Marine leaders gather for 2022 ELEVATE SUMMIT

By Jamie Stafford

Just last week, the boat industry ELEVATE SUMMIT – the premier education and networking event for executives in the recreational boating industry – in sunny Orlando, Florida. ELEVATE is produced and hosted by boat industry and parent company EPG Brand Acceleration. The three-day conference included numerous keynote speakers and Q&A panels.

The event started on November 14 with an afternoon panel. Editor-in-Chief Adam Quandt interviewed 2022 Mover & Shaker winner Aine Denari in a conversation that covered topics ranging from advocacy and work culture to attracting new talent and how she brings her automotive industry experience to the marine industry to serve.

Curtis Dubay, chief economist for the Department of Economic Policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, opened day two by discussing the challenges of inflation, rising interest rates, the prospect of a full-blown recession, changes in consumer spending and other issues facing the entire outdoor recreation industry is faced. “We’re facing tough economic times,” Dubay said, “but there’s good news buried in bad news.” According to Dubay, inflation will continue to be a problem, but the industry does not face insurmountable growth opportunities.

This was reflected in the next panel, with Aine Denari, President of Brunswick Boat Group; Bill Yeargin, President and CEO of Correct Craft; Danny Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of Marine Connection; Dan Cowens Founder of Oasis Marinas. These executives came together to discuss the state of the industry. All in all, the year is ending on a positive note, and companies across all sectors of the industry need to remain proactive in customer service and sourcing new talent.

After learning about the state of the recreational boating industry, attendees received an update on boating legislation from Callie Hoyt, NMMA Director of Federal Relations. Hoyt provided an overview of what the NMMA has been working towards on Capitol Hill and addressed the recent Outdoor Recreation Economic Report, which provided new figures on how much the industry contributes to the economy – $862 billion in revenue really stunning value lot.

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Later Angela Pilkington, CFO of Correct Craft; Ann Baldree, senior vice president of Chaparral and Robalo Boats; Morgan Bailey, Forest River Marine Marketing Director; Stephanie Vatalaro, senior vice president of marketing and communications at RBFF; and Nicole Armstrong, winner of the Women Making Waves Award and Vice President of Corporate Initiatives at Priority One Financial Services, all came together to discuss how women can excel in the industry.

The day’s panel discussions concluded with John Adey, President of the American Boat and Yacht Council, reporting on new initiatives ABYC is taking in workplace development. “We realized that if we can’t provide schools with the information to teach them what people need to learn, no one is going to get into this industry,” Adey said. To this end, ABYC created a curriculum for technical high schools and colleges to use. They’ve also created a certification program and partnered with SkillsUSA to promote technician training. Adey reiterated what many of the panels had emphasized earlier in the day: It is vital to capture the attention of the next generation – both as workers and consumers.

Both November 14th and 15th then concluded with a networking reception that allowed attendees and sponsors alike to exchange and connect with other professionals from the powersports and marine industries.

The final day of ELEVATE dawned bright as attendees made their way to the convention center. David Gee, former Editor-in-Chief of boat industry, was there to greet her. He started the day on a high note with his discussion of best marketing practices. Gee emphasized that it’s all about the story: by getting potential customers to connect with boating, they’re investing in the future of leisure at sea.

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After Gee’s presentation, Sean Marerro, President of Watershed Innovation and Ingenity Electric, took the stage to talk about the possibilities of electrical engineering and what Ingenity is doing to move the needle. Electric is just part of the bigger equation of what exactly consumers are looking for today. To fill in the rest of this equation, Jack Ellis, CEO of Info-Link; Aaron Carver, Data Solutions Manager at Lightspeed, and Robert Grant, Vendor Solutions at CDK Global, provided insights into how the market looks and what trends can be predicted up to 2023. Info-Link, Lightspeed and CDK Global all work together boat industry to create the annual market data book, an invaluable tool for any manufacturer, retailer or marina.

While the Market Data Book is a popular resource for educating consumer habits, boat industry has gone one step further by asking consumers directly what they are looking for. Through EPG Brand Acceleration magazine’s parent company and sister company EPG Specialty Information, boat industry is now able to aggregate data from consumer surveys to give shipping companies even more detailed feedback on demographics and decision-making.

ELEVATE saved one of its most anticipated panels for last, interviewing three of the top retailers honored at the 2022 Top 100 Awards. Nautical Ventures’ Frank Ferraro, Pasadena Boat Works’ Nick Doetsch and Gregg Orr Marine’s Lisa Murphy sat down with Editor-in-Chief Adam Quandt to discuss the success of their respective dealers. Topics ranged from newly implemented practices to inventory management and marketing updates.

Finally, the exclusive invite-only event that many had been waiting for closed the Summit with a bang. This year the Top 100 Awards Gala looked a little different. Reflect boat industryFor its commitment to serving the entire recreational boating industry, the Top 100 Awards recognized not only the Top Dealers 2022, but also the 40 Under 40 and Women Making Waves 2022.

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The ELEVATE SUMMIT and Top 100 Awards Gala return to Texas in 2023. Keep an eye out for dates and more information on the pages of in the coming months boat industry and online at

The 2022 boat industry ELEVATE SUMMIT was made possible by the following sponsors:

Diamond: Dealer Profit Services and Kicker Marine Audio

Platinum: boat line

Gold: AppOne and MotoTV networks

Silver: ARI, Boats for Sale, Constellation Dealership Software, Dealer Spike, Morgan Stanley, National Powersport Auctions (NPA), Performance Brokerage Services and United States Warranty Corporation.

The 2022 Top 100 Awards program was made possible thanks to the 2022 Leadership Alliance:

Diamond: Dealer Profit Services and Kicker Marine Audio

Platinum: boat line

The Women Making Waves Awards 2022 were made possible thanks to the following sponsors:

Dealer Profit Services, Kicker Marine Audio, Chaparral & Robalo Boats, Correct Craft, Priority One Financial Services and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.