The energy coming off the Miami boat show is palpable. It’s also important. Important because it gave industry a chance to showcase numerous and innovative products. Admittedly, show organizers are always quick to put a positive spin on show attendance with chatter about spiking new boat sales and brokerage deals even when the facts on the ground aren’t supportive of their claims.
But this is different. What Miami represents, to me, is a reawakening. A reawakening triggered primarily by two things; perceptions of an improving economy and the maturation of key, innovative technology.
Since the dark days of 2008/9, we saw a shaking out of the recreational boating industry. Many businesses folded. Others radically downsized or reorganized. Still others, primarily the larger brands, hung on and held their breath, knowing that eventually the tide would turn. Some were even bold enough to introduce new product lines but most were highly risk averse, choosing to hunker down and wait it out.
However, throughout all of this the word kept turning. Technology marched ahead. Innovators continued to innovate. More powerful outboards. Advances in composites. More joystick control options. Digital switching. Innovative use of space. All these things and more were happening, but most builders pulled down the green eye shades and weren’t about to deeply invest in new tooling and associated requirements to put all this in production on a large scale.
I’ll leave the rigorous economic discussion to those more qualified, but from my perspective you could sense the shift in mood and thinking a couple years ago. Then, into 2014 and now 2015 there is an unmistakeable, increased optimism around the docks. This was the trigger. Builders are building, and all those innovative products that bubbled up over the years are being harnessed, exploited, and put into production.
The result is what we saw in Miami. Industry and consumers alike should be poised to take advantage. The range of boats available is nothing short of amazing, be it a boat and trailer for under 20k or an eye popping multi-outboard 53 foot center console. Exciting times indeed.