ADVOCACY IN 2018
In more than 20 years in this industry, I’ve never experienced the level of collaboration and partnership that I felt at our Dealer Week strategy meeting last October. Our staff joined up with our board, members of our Young Leaders Advisory Council and members of our conference committee and worked hand-in-hand with some of the most influential suppliers and manufacturers and other partners in our industry to co-create a vision for what Dealer Week should (and will) become. It was so inspiring to see them collaborate to help us bring such a big vision to life and to see them rally behind our mission of creating opportunities for our industry to find greater success.
Matt Gruhn, President
I am told there is never a dull moment around here, but I think 2018 in particular was a wonderfully chaotic year. We added some amazing people to our staff, ramped up for Dealer Week, and continued to challenge the way we support the marine industry the best we can. For me, I loved seeing the marine industry's connectedness. Being a part of the Strategy Session for Dealer Week where dealers and partners engaged in conversation about how best to collaborate for this reimagined conference experience was inspiring. It makes bringing the event to life in December even more exciting.
Katie Eichelberger, Program Marketing Coordinator
At the Centurion/Supreme Dealer Meeting, we had the chance to share the Marine Industry Certified Dealership and Continuous Certification programs with dealers. We saw a record number of dealers engage with the program as a result of that meeting, and we look forward to helping them improve their businesses in 2019!
Liz Keener, Certification Manager
The huge milestone that MRAA achieved in 2018 that was most meaningful to me was the expansion of our education team. While everyone at MRAA contributes to our ability to serve the marine dealer community through education, growing the number of people on our team who are specifically devoted to it is already making a tremendous difference in the number and quality of educational tools, resources, courses and publications we are developing for dealers. That represents an enormous boost to our ability to help members improve and grow.
Liz Walz, Vice President
During the American Boating Congress, I had the opportunity to guide some of our members around Capitol Hill so that they could speak personally with their Senators and Representatives in Congress. Getting to see dealers speak passionately about the issues that they cared about with lawmakers was an inspiring experience, and I was proud to help our members make that connection.
Will Higgins, Public Policy Manager
2018 was the year for Dealer Week planning. In preparation for building our new, re-envisioned conference, myself and a few others from the MRAA staff flew out to Washington, D.C., to attend a conference for conference planners. I was wowed. I came back to the office completely re-energized and ready to create an event that left our guests feeling the way I did.
Mickaela Hilleren, Program Marketing Coordinator
One of the greatest things about 2018 were the multiple opportunities I had to make connections with dealers at meetings and industry events. Keep inviting me back! I saw so much positive energy in our Dealer Week strategic meeting in Tampa during IBEX. That's what drives the industry forward and curates community for participants and it was cool to see. I have been working more and more closely with MRAA members to find solutions to improve on dealership practices. Connecting members to each other not only allows them to support each other, but helps grow my retail operations expertise in our industry.
Nikki Duffney, Member Development Manager
I enjoyed working with new dealers this year like N3 Boatworks. It was cool seeing how they are marketing their used boats online with such detail that a prospect could make a buying decision from a distance or when the boat is stored for the winter. N3’s process includes a structured photoshoot in a staging area, a detailed video walkaround, and a video where boats look best in the water! Their meticulous online marketing and SEO efforts are complete with full descriptions that both prospects and Google can read. I’m certain the only reason they don't sell more used boats with this level of marketing is their supply of used boats.
Bob McCann, Lead Certification Consultant
My favorite moment is a collection of moments. Anytime I have the opportunity to meet, in person, with partners it helps me fulfill my passion of building relationships and helping them meet their goals and objectives. Some of the highlights were attending the Miami Boat Show, National Marine Lenders Conference, IBEX and the MRAA Annual Conference and Expo.
Allison Gruhn, Director of Business Development
Every year, the conference is my highlight because it's an opportunity to connect with dealers. It's also an opportunity to witness the hard work that goes into the conference come to fruition in the form of dealer education and networking.
Michele Rosacker, Office Administrator
Being hired to support MRAA has been inspiring. Hearing first hand how passionate each person is during my interviews, and then my first day on the job, I felt prepared, supported and ready. How many people can say that on day 1? Fast forward to the strategy meeting in October, and witnessing the genuine connections between the dealers, staff and partners, I continue to be impressed. I’ve never seen such commitment and focus from all three segments of an association.
Sarah Korbel, Event & Operations Specialist
Although I didn’t officially start my position with MRAA until after the new year, I flew to Orlando at the end of 2018 to attend the annual conference. For me, it was great to return to the marine industry after some time away and reconnect with old colleagues and partners. I very quickly remembered what makes this industry special: It’s a group of people doing what they love, whose day job is to provide people with happy memories, and everyone is trying to find better ways to share the magic of being on the water. I’m excited to help further that mission in 2019.
Mike Davin, Director of Education