Boaters and water enthusiasts from across the state enjoy last year’s Metro Boat Show on Lake St. Clair. This year’s show, put on by  the Michigan Boating Industries Association, will be held Sept. 13-16.

Boaters and water enthusiasts from across the state enjoy last year’s Metro Boat Show on Lake St. Clair. This year’s show, put on by the Michigan Boating Industries Association, will be held Sept. 13-16.

Photo provided by the Michigan Boating Industries Association

Boat show reflects Michigan’s love of water

Industry continues to grow after slow years

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 6, 2018


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Great Lakes State.

The name alone triggers visions of endless blue skies, a warm sun and fun on the open water. Recent years have seen an increase in people taking part in that fun across the state via boats.

Which is why the Michigan Boating Industries Association Metro Boat Show will come to Lake St. Clair Metropark Sept. 13-16.

The ninth annual show will feature hundreds of watercraft and boats up to 60 feet in length on display and for sale at what organizers say are “great end-of-season prices.”

Boats featured include new and previously owned fishing boats, sailboats, cruisers, yachts, pontoon boats, personal watercraft, ski and wakeboard boats, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. New 2019 models will be introduced by local yacht brokers and dealers, as well.

According to the MBIA, boat, motor, trailer and accessory sales in Michigan, and across the country, are at an all-time high, with more than $981 million spent in Michigan and $39 billion spent across the country.

There was a 12 percent increase in sales in Michigan and a 6.5 percent increase in the U.S. in 2016, according to statistics recently released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“There are a few factors we attribute to the growth of the industry,” said MBIA Executive Director and Show Manager Nicki Polan. “Pent-up demand from the recession, millennials are starting to buy, consumer confidence remains high, gas prices remain low, interest rates are low — it’s a perfect storm.”

Responding to the demand of sales and service activity increasing, local dealers are expanding and adding new locations.

Wilson Marine, headquartered in Brighton, now has seven locations, adding its latest in Wixom.

“It is great to see the industry rebounding after lows experienced in 2008 through 2010. All facets of boating seem to be increasing,” said Debi Schroeder, of Wilson Marine. “While for years it has been primarily a pontoon market, we have recently, in the last 18 months, seen an increase in the other segments, such as fishing and Fiberglas sport boats/cruisers.”

SkipperBud’s, headquartered in Illinois, is another dealer that has recently added another new location, a full-service complete marine complex in Waterford, totaling six locations in Michigan and 18 throughout the Midwest.

“There are two lifestyles that are fueling and bringing growth to the industry, at least locally: the popularity of wake surfing, and the progression of horsepower and luxury in the pontoon world (tri-toons),” said Chris Somers, sales manager at SkipperBud’s Cass Lake Marina. “We are also finally seeing growth in Fiberglas runabouts and larger Fiberglas bowriders that did not rebound as quick after the great slowdown era of 2008-2012. Day boating on Lake St. Clair and the Great Lakes has been a continued growth area I don’t see slowing anytime soon.”

As larger boat sales increase, Grand Pointe Marina, headquartered on the Grand River in Lansing, also has new locations in Sterling Heights and most recently in Harrison Township.

“I think it is our industry’s goal and duty to get younger families continually involved in boating,” Grand Pointe Marina General Manager Chris Stevens said. “Time and discretionary income are the largest hindrance. Making boating easy, fun and relaxing is the key for customer retention and the invitation to new boaters.”

The Metro Boat Show will also feature fun attractions for the entire family, including live music, a 1980s dress-up contest, Michigan-made craft brews at the beer tents, giveaways, and the Kids Entertainment Zone with RC boats, bounce houses and a mermaid.

Metro Boat Show hours are from noon to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13-14, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 16. Admission costs is $10. Children 12 and younger attend free of charge with an adult. Parking costs $10 for those without a 2018 park permit.

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