It was great at Elevate!

Our Elevate plan was to create something new and different for the recreational boating industry; a unique, leader-specific, industry-wide, future-driven, smaller-by-design, strategic conference unlike any the industry had ever seen.

And we are pleased and proud to say the first-ever Elevate conference went according to plan – and beyond!

The event got off to a good start with marine marketing maven Wanda Kenton Smith, president of Kenton Smith Marketing, moderating a panel on Women & Leadership in Boating. She was joined by Susan Bonivich of Volvo Penta, Angela Pilkington of Correct Craft, Kathleen Burns of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, Keri Doscher of Emerald Coast Marine Group and Kristen Frohnhoefer of Sea Tow International.

At the same time, Disney entertainment veteran and University of Central Florida professor Dr. Sean Bliznik led a breakout session about values-based leadership. He said, “Leaders establish, embody and enrich the values and vision by which their teams and organizations flouirsh.”

Finishing up the first day, was a fireside chat with me and soon-to-be-retired CEO Ron Huibers of Volvo Penta, who spoke about his passion for boating, his career, and the future of the industry.

Saturday’s keynote was Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, the “bowtie economist,” who brought an energetic and enthusiastic approach to the boating industry and the broader economy. His main takeaway? We are not headed for a full-blown recession, but global growth is going to be slowest since then.

Author and consultant Karla Brandau spoke about personality types in the workplace and how to “earn discretionary effort from your employees.”

A breakout on navigating political and economic uncertainty was led by John-Michael Donahue of the NMMA and Scott Crabtree of Yacht Executive Solutions.

Then there was a Dealer/Supplier Relationship panel consisting of Regal Marine’s Tim Kuck, Oliver Ray of Ilmor, Jeff Husby of Regal and Nautique of Orlando and Quality Boats of Clearwater CEO Dan Bair. We touched on subjects such as dealer-manufacturer communication, nationally advertised pricing and other things.

Dr. James Pogue began the last day of Elevate with his keynote about multi-generational intelligence, stereotypes, conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace, and how to respect other perspectives.

Elevate’s managing director Jonathan Sweet brought the event to a close with a panel discussion of Top 100 dealers including Dan Bair of Quality Boats, Amanda Levandowski of Charlotte Ski Boats and John Wooden of River Valley Marine.

Of course throughout, there was networking, conversations, exchanging of best practices and business cards, and interaction in the exhibit hall.

After a costume change into tuxedos and formal attire, hundreds of us gathered in the ballroom at the Rosen Centre for food, fun and lots of Top 100 awards, including Top 100 Dealer of the Year, Quality Boats of Clearwater.

If you were a part of Elevate 2019, either as an attendee or sponsor, our heartfelt thanks.

And if you weren’t, please make plans to join us next year. We will be announcing the time and place very soon!

Why attend Elevate?

Lots of people are asking about – and talking about – Elevate, our first annual strategic conference for leaders, and emerging leaders, in the recreational boating industry, November 22-24, in Orlando.

That’s a good thing. It means you are consuming our content for starters. We try to be judicious about how many times we hit you up with e-blasts, and podcasts and blog posts and the like, but we do want you to know about it!

People ask about it during our dealer visits, when we talk to groups such as Women Making Waves and 40 Under 40, and we all certainly fielded plenty of Elevate questions in our booth at IBEX.

It’s clear from some of those questions that there is still a little haziness around what Elevate is and who should attend.

Part of that is understandable. After all, we were an integral part of producing another show for a decade-and-a-half, and it’s reasonable to ask whether this is an iteration of that, or something completely different. The answer is the latter by the way.

Compelling Content
The idea for Elevate really came from a clean sheet of paper. We have all attended conferences that were really valuable, and some that weren’t. Or aren’t. And to be honest, sometimes that has as much to do with your expectations and goals as it does with the actual content.

Anyway, we wanted to create a conference that features important intelligence about key trends facing the marine industry and give you information and strategies to help guide you through whatever comes next.

That includes the economy, making your employees your critical competitive advantage, managing multiple generations in the workforce, navigating the supplier/dealer relationship, and so on.

We have award-winning speakers scheduled, as well as opportunities to hear from industry veterans such as Ron Huibers, president and CEO, Volvo Penta of the Americas, and our 2019 Mover & Shaker of the Year.

Free Pre-Conference
We also added an exciting pre-conference to the Friday afternoon schedule that is part of your registration.

Growing future business leaders is vitally important, both to the current leadership team(s) as well as those in their wake. How can these groups work together to ensure future success? Dr. Sean J. Bliznik will lead the discussion. He is a long-time Disney employee who is now an assistant professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF where he teaches courses in entertainment management and leadership.

And then there is a session on Women & Leadership in Boating. Some of the greatest minds in the marine industry are gathering to discuss important topics related to women in the boating industry. Well-known marine marketing veteran Wanda Kenton Smith carefully curated a diverse group of women from Volvo Penta, Correct Craft, Sea Tow International, Emerald Coast Marine Group and the Connecticut Marine Trades Association. The panel will describe their career journey, sharing both the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced, along with keen insights and their best strategies for success. This session not only includes a panel discussion, but an opportunity to meet – and talk – with these women individually as well.

Awesome Awards
Some of the top women and young leaders in the industry will also be recognized at the Opening Awards reception on Friday night as we honor the 2019 Boating Industry Women Making Waves and 40 Under 40.

Also that opening night, we are pleased and proud to present the inaugural “National Boating Industry Safety Awards” where the Sea Tow Foundation, with the help and support of its newly launched North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, will honor top boating safety programs and promotions in four separate categories.

At the other end of the conference, we will finish with a flourish as we present our Top 100 dinner and awards celebration, that includes announcing Dealer of the Year.

We are all really excited about Elevate, and hope you are too. If you haven’t yet registered, just go to the home page, hit the Register Now button, put it in your calendar, and we’ll see you next month in Orlando!

Sea Tow Foundation to present boating safety awards at Elevate

The Sea Tow Foundation, with the help and support of its newly launched North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, announces the unveiling of a new national awards program designed to recognize the best boating safety work in the for-profit sector of the recreational marine marketplace occurring within the United States.

The inaugural presentation of the “National Boating Industry Safety Awards” will be held the opening night of Boating Industry’s Elevate Summit on November 22 in Orlando, and will honor top boating safety programs and promotions in four separate categories.

According to Sea Tow Foundation’s Executive Director Gail R. Kulp, the North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council developed and recommended the recognition to spotlight the best in class work of marine retailers, marine manufacturers and marine media. A fourth award will be presented for the best overall marine marketing outreach program promoting boating safety.

“We are very enthusiastic about the work of our Sober Skipper Advisory Council members who have collaborated with us to develop this important awards recognition,” said Kulp. “While there are some existing boating safety award programs, none focus on and recognize the contributions of the greater for-profit sector of the marine industry. Our goal is to help build awareness and inspire new opportunities within the for-profit sector to better promote boating safety and to showcase best practices throughout the industry within the U.S. We hope our program not only serves to recognize the outstanding work currently underway but will ultimately spur greater industry support and participation in the future.”

“We are very pleased to participate with the Sea Tow Foundation and the North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council in hosting the inaugural awards presentation at our Elevate Summit,” said Top 100 and Elevate Managing Director Jonathan Sweet. “Our event is designed for key influencers and decision-makers throughout the boating industry, so we felt this new award presentation was perfectly suited for our audience and our venue.”

Nominations will be accepted between August 15 – October 1, 2019 and includes the boating safety work of marine industry for-profit organizations conducted between August 15, 2018 – August 18, 2019.

Applications are available for download at http://soberskipper.com/awards

Economist Elliot Eisenberg named as Elevate keynote speaker

Economist and columnist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg will kick off the first full day of the 2019 Boating Industry Elevate Summit.

Eisenberg will speak at 8 a.m. November 23. Elevate runs from November 22-24 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. The full schedule for Elevate is available at BoatingIndustryElevate.com.

“Elevate is designed for the top executives in the boating industry and having Dr. Eisenberg on board will help us deliver the kind of information they need to run their businesses,” said Jonathan Sweet, managing director of Boating Industry’s shows and the Top 100 program. “Dr. Eisenberg not only knows his stuff, he also makes economics fun and interesting.”

Eisenberg is a nationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making economics fun, relevant and educational. Eisenberg is the Chief Economist for GraphsandLaughs, LLC, an economic consultancy that serves a variety of clients across the United States. He writes a syndicated column and authors a daily 70-word commentary on the economy that is available at www.econ70.com.

“I am already very excited to be part of the 2019 Boating Industry Elevate conference,” Eisenberg said. “There will be great educational and networking opportunities that should not be missed by anyone in the industry!“

Eisenberg has spoken to hundreds of business groups and has been invited to testify before lawmakers and is often asked to comment on proposed legislation. His research and opinions have been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bureau of National Affairs, Forbes, Fortune, and many other publications. He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk and public radio.