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President’s Report – May 2021
NMTA President/CEO George Harris

Last week, we livestreamed our second virtual annual meeting in as many years and I appreciate the members who joined us April 29 for this important tradition. There are plenty of reasons I can’t wait to gather in-person again in 2022, but one silver lining of a virtual meeting is you can watch or re-watch the meeting on your own schedule at this LINK. During my 45-minute presentation to members, I covered NMTA’s major accomplishments this past year from A to Z and shared details about NMTA’s financial position.

At this year’s meeting, which I hope is our last virtual event, we returned to important traditions like our industry awards (congratulations to our recipients Michael Collins, Logan Brown, and Bob Donegan) and a keynote presentation by National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) President Frank Hugelmeyer, who presented the latest national boating and fishing trends to NMTA members. I hope you can take a few minutes and watch all, or some of the meeting, which kicks off with industry awards at 33 minutes into the recording, my annual report at 45 minutes, and closes with Frank Hugelmeyer’s keynote at 1:33.

Switching gears, membership renewal invoices were mailed and emailed in late April and are due on June 30. If you are undecided if your business should or should not renew your NMTA membership for the coming year I strongly encourage you to watch the annual meeting recording or at least call or email me personally (george@nmta.net). Never have I felt so strongly about the value of an NMTA membership, and the value returned to members this past year. I am pleased to report 2020 and early 2021 were exceptional years by NMTA staff and our volunteers to keep member businesses open.
Signature wins include:

  • Essential designation for marinas, fuel docks, boatyards and marine service providers during initial Stay Home – Stay Healthy order
  • Early reopening for boat dealers and brokers on May 5, 2020 Phase 1 reopening
  • Ensure favorable legislation and policies for all segments of our membership (boatyards, marinas, recreational fishing, superyachts)

NMTA cannot take all the credit for the newfound interest in boating and fishing by so many, but the fact that the governor prioritized recreational boating businesses in the re-opening was due to NMTA advocacy for its members.

Not only are we asking you to renew this month, but we also hope you will participate in voting in our board elections and approval of our proposed bylaw changes. Board election ballots were mailed and emailed to all members on May 3. This year we have five candidates on the ballot to fill three 3-year terms on the NMTA Board of Trustees. You can read statements from each of the candidates at this LINK. Also included with the Trustee ballot are proposed revisions to the NMTA bylaws, which we strive to do every 3-4 years. The proposed revisions are subtle and are primarily updates to language in the bylaws regarding methods of communication with members and the board, updating the term “Board Chairman” to “Board Chair” and, perhaps the most notable change, officially moving the Annual Meeting to the second quarter of the calendar year. Ballots are due by June 4. Members with questions about voting or the by-law approval should contact Katie Groseclose at katieg@nmta.net.

Watercraft Excise Tax
In early April, Peter Schrappen and our business lobbyist Cliff Webster learned of a state senate proposal to double the Watercraft Excise Tax (WET) from 0.5% to 1.0% on the value of each registered boat. In a matter of days this proposal turned into Senate Bill 5483. For context, recreational boaters are the only motorized user group that pays an excise tax. Boaters pay their WET annually when they renew their boat registration every June. With assistance from the Recreational Boating Association of Washington’s (RBAW) lobbyist and members, NMTA and RBAW quickly went to work to activate our constituents. Special thanks to all the NMTA members that contacted their senators and representatives to oppose the excise tax increase. In the end, over 5,500 NMTA and RBAW constituents sent over 17,000 messages opposing the increase and the increase was removed from the bill. Additionally, boaters can be assured they are paying more than their fair share for state services they receive. A recent legislative audit showed boaters pay an estimated $71M in taxes and fees and receive only $54M in actual services.

Boat Shows
I’m pleased to report NMTA is planning the Anacortes Boat & Yacht Spring Sale for May 21-22 at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. That’s right, our first in-person event since January 2020. In late March, we received guidance from the Governor’s Office that an in-water event would be “perfect” for this phase of the pandemic. Proper social distancing for a safe and successful event can be done easily with just two boats side-tied on each finger pier. We currently have 26 member businesses displaying 66 boats which uses all available finger piers. It’s important to note that in 2018 and 2019 the show had over 300 boats on display in the water, shoreside and at local boatyards.

The Anacortes show committee decided it would be best to call the event a “spring sale” for new and brokerage boats rather than a “boat show” which suggests boats, accessories, and entertainment. The spring sale will be an un-ticketed (free) event for attendees. We have been approved for up to 400 attendees and staff on C-dock at any one time. The sale hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22. You can see the exhibitor and boat lists at this LINK.

It is never too early to start thinking about the next Seattle Boat Show, and I have some news to share with you on this front. Dates for the 2022 Seattle Boat Show at Lumen Field & Event Center will be Friday, February 4 to Saturday, February 12. In late March, the NFL announced they will add one game to the regular season (17 games) which for 2022 moves the Super Bowl to Sunday, February 13 and as a result moves the Seattle Boat Show and other consumer shows a week later. There are many pros and cons to show date selection, but our lease with the Seahawks is clear that our dates are secondary to all NFL games. Applications for the 2022 show will be mailed and emailed to all members on July 1. Members with questions about upcoming shows should contact Katie McPhail at katiemc@nmta.net.

First Quarter Boat Registrations
As referenced earlier, when it comes to new boat sales in the first quarter of 2021, we have witnessed exceptional growth. Washington state new boat registrations are up 35.0% in units compared to first-quarter 2020 with an increase in value of 65.4%. New registrations for boats sold by brokers are up a solid 15.8% in units and up 16.5% in value.

With so much going on at NMTA, the staff, board, and volunteer leaders greatly appreciate your trust and support.

See you on (or near) the water.


George Harris
Email me!

P.S. Please take a look at and consider attending an upcoming committee meeting in May. You can see the NMTA meeting schedule on the homepage of nmta.net. These are open meetings for members and a great way to get involved, meet like-minded members, and become familiar with emerging topics.

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