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NMTA President/CEO George Harris

Did you know 1947 was an eventful year in Seattle history? SeaTac Airport began operating commercial flights, Memorial Stadium opened, and Dorothy Stimson Bullitt bought KEVR-FM, the first piece of the KING broadcasting empire? It was also the year NMTA was founded (as Northwest Marine Industries, Inc) to fight a proposed special tax on boaters (and advocating for boaters in Olympia is still a critical part of our mission and work). The Association quickly expanded its vision of a unified industry by pitching a tent on the shores of Lake Union and holding its first boat show across from Bryant’s Marina on Lake Union.

I’m enormously proud and excited that February 4 – 12 we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Seattle Boat Show, presented by Union Marine.

We took this milestone opportunity to dust off boxes and boxes of photos, clippings, and slides from the NMTA archives. We had a ton of fun, found many, many gems, and were reminded of just how deeply boating and fishing are ingrained in our northwest lifestyle.

The show has always been a celebration of boating and a place for boaters to rendezvous with friends, share boating memories, plan for summer adventures and reminisce about past adventures and the good old days.  

Depending on your age and situation the good old days could be 2020, 1990 or 1970. Recognizing these nostalgic feelings, our advertising agency Bullseye Creative has developed a fun, creative campaign that captures this perfectly using “then and now” images we uncovered in the archives. At the NMTA offices (in our homes now and on N. Northlake Way) it’s all hands-on deck as staff are busy finalizing the floor plan and seminar schedules, updating the website and planning 75th anniversary promotions. Right now, we have 258 members committed to celebrating our boating lifestyle and connecting with new and old customers at Lumen Field Event Center and Bell Harbor Marina. You can see the full exhibitor list HERE and the 166 different new and brokerage boat brands that will be on display. Show tickets will go on sale December 7 and that’s when the show website will be full strength. You can read our November press release for more show details HERE.

If your company would like to exhibit indoors at Lumen Field Event Center or afloat at Bell Harbor Marina, please contact Show Director Katie McPhail at the NMTA office or by email at katiemc@nmta.net. Members can print and download the application HERE.

Board of Trustees Changes
Alex Sutter with Fisheries Supply has moved up to become NMTA Boar Chair effective November 1. Alex’s move to Board Chair is roughly 18 months ahead of schedule because Mark Helgen, formerly with Union Marine, has left the marine industry to follow his dream and start his own business in Tacoma - South Sound Scooters. Mark started his position as Vice-President Sales for Lake Union Sea Ray, now Union Marine, in June of 2007 after 12-years with Olympic Boat Centers. Mark served on the NMTA Board of Trustees since 2006 for both Union Marine and Olympic Boat Centers. We thank Mark for his many years of volunteer service and wish him great success in his new venture.

With Mark’s retirement from the Board, Mike Kirshenbaum with HO Sports was voted by the Board at the November meeting to become Secretary-Treasurer of the NMTA Executive Committee and Kelly Hawley, owner of Tom-n-Jerry’s Boat Center and Master Marine Boat Center, was approved to fill the unexpired term. Kelly also serves as a trustee on the NMTA Health Trust Board and brings a needed strong voice for recreational fishing to the NMTA board.

Peter Schrappen, NMTA Vice-President & Government Affairs Director Leaving NMTA for American Waterways Operators

Peter Schrappen, our Director of Government Affairs since 2010 will be leaving NMTA in mid-December to begin work for the American Waterways Operators (AWO), the tugboat, towboat and barge industry association. The change is “bittersweet.” Sweet because this is an incredible opportunity for Peter to work for a highly regarded national organization and perhaps a bit bitter for NMTA because during his tenure here, Peter has transformed NMTA’s advocacy role in the northwest and taught me (and our Board and members) much about what advocacy work and success look like. I know for certain his political chops, optimism, leadership, hard work and wit will be missed. Thank you, Peter Schrappen, for all you have done for NMTA members in eleven years!

For me, the culmination of Peter’s work and a powerful example happened during the start of the pandemic. Peter’s strong relationships and his access to key policy makers in Olympia paved the way for marinas, boatyards, fuel docks and service providers to be designated as essential businesses during the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Shortly after, he was instrumental in making sure our dealer and broker members were included in the Phase 1 reopening. These two accomplishments showcase how Peter elevated NMTA’s status, and the status of recreational boating and fishing, with law and policy makers all across the region. 

For members that know Peter you know he is a reader and curious about all things from cooking to human behavior to podcasts to political strategy. Peter taught me about “recency bias” early on so it seems appropriate to apologize now to Peter for just using a recent example of his exceptional work. Sorry, Peter!

Peter managed five NMTA standing committees – Government Affairs, Boatyard, Marina, PAC, Superyacht and our annual Northwest Marina & Boatyard Conference. These committees and conferences are where member challenges are often first revealed, and ultimately where advocacy priorities and plans are established. Peter has staffed hundreds of NMTA committee meetings and become close friends with hundreds of members. 

The search for NMTA’s next Government Affairs Director is underway and I hope to have someone in place by the start of the legislative session on January 10. Between then and now our business lobbyist Cliff Webster, sportfishing lobbyist Carl Burke, Committee Chairs, and I will need to play a bit of a zone defense and I’m confident we will be ready for the session. You can read NMTA’s announcement about the open Government Affairs Director position at this LINK.

Wishing you and yours the very happiest of holidays and looking forward to celebrating all things boating with you in February as we get back to "the good old days!"


George Harris

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