Masthead29_Mar2014 G.pub - page 26

TheMasthead
News&Views
Growing sales are topic at
MarineRetailUniversity
BROCKTON,Mass.—TheNorth-
east region of theUnitedStates
mirrors the nation overall in regard to
boat segments leading the industry’s
recovery, with growth seen in
pontoons, aluminumboats andmost
notably, saltwater fishing boats.
That’s according toGECapital busi-
ness solutionsmanager Charlie
Brooks, who addressed about 125
peoplewho are attendingMarine
Retail University, one of several
regional events organized by the
MarineRetailersAssociation of the
Americas andDominionMarine
Media.
On a 12-month rolling basis through
November, sales of saltwater fishing
boats 25 feet and larger grew 27.55
percent in the nation, 25.39percent in
theNortheast and 33.58percent in
Massachusetts, Brooks said.
“Keep inmindwhenyou’re talking to
your reps, you’re competingwith the
rest of the country for that inventory,”
Brooks told attendees. “One of the
thingswe keep an eye on is the poten-
tial for inventory shortages. Saltwater
fishing boats are such a big part of the
market up here. That stuff is just
flying through the channel, and there
really is no inventory left out there to
speak of, which really puts pressure
on saltwater fishmanufacturers.”
After his presentation, Brooks told
TradeOnlyToday that he emphasized
the growth in that segment because it
is a higher-dollar sector than some of
the other areas that are showing strong
growth after theGreat Recession.
Aging inventory continues to be at
historical lows in the nation, Brooks
said, with about 14percent of inven-
torymaking it to a year. Fewer than 6
percent of new boats stay on show-
room floors for 18months.
Larger sterndrive and express cruisers
carry a “bitmore aging than average”
in theNortheast, comparedwith the
overallmarket.
Inventory turns have improved from
1.8 percent in2010 to2.09percent in
2013, Brooks said. Earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amor-
tization— ameasure of cash flow—
has increased from2.97 percent to
5.97percent in that time period.
“A lot of the damage to balance sheets
from the downturnhas been repaired,”
Brooks said.
Source: SoundingsTradeOnly1/29/14by
ReganHaynes
Senators hear from stake-
holders on ethanol use
Therewas testimony once again on
Capitol Hill regarding theEnviron-
mental ProtectionAgency proposal
that would— for the first time since
theRenewable Fuel Standard passed
in 2007— decrease the amount of
biofuel required in the overall fuel
supply.
The SenateCommittee onEnviron-
ment andPublicWorksmet Tuesday
to hear testimony from and ask
questions of several stakeholders on
both sides of the proposal.
“The truth is, we have hit the ethanol
blendwall,”ChrisGrundler, director
of theEPA’sOffice of Transportation
andAirQuality, told the committee.
“We are acknowledging the blend
wall has been reached.We’remaking
an estimation of a reasonable amount
of ethanol that can be consumedwith
the current system in place.”
The “blendwall” is
the termgiven to the
amount of ethanol
that can be blended
into fuel with existing infrastructure
that will not damage small engines
andmarine engines.
“Fuel economy improvements and
other factors have resulted in lower
consumption of gasoline,”Grundler
said. “If gasoline demand continues to
decline . . . increasing the amount of
ethanol in the fuel supplywill result in
higher concentrations of ethanol.”
Grundlerwouldn’t saywhether
exceeding the blendwall would
increase gasoline prices, but he did
say that “infrastructure clearly needs
to adapt ifwe’re going to use higher
blendwalls.We didn’t think it would
be feasible to reach that level of infra-
structure for 2014.”
The debate about increasing the
amount of ethanol in gasoline beyond
10 percent—which largely comes
down to a diminishing demand for
gasoline and a growing pushback on
the negative effects of E15 and higher
blends on engines— calls into ques-
tion themandate, which does not
require an increase of biofuels or
ethanol on a percentage basis.
Proponents of higher-blend ethanol
fuels say technology should keep up
to accommodate the higher concentra-
tion.
Higher blends of ethanol have been
proven to be bad formarine engines,
saidSen. SheldonWhitehouse, D-R.I.,
and that affects constituents. “When
you’re out in the ocean that’s no time
to bemessing aroundwithyour en-
gine,”Whitehouse said.
Sens. BenCardin, D-Md., andDavid
Vitter, R-La., are planning to draft
further bipartisan legislation to amend
theRenewable Fuel Standard. Both
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