Donald Dubois Discusses Industry Challenges and Trends at Boating Ontario Conference

Taking stage in front of a full room of Ontario's boating industry members, Princecraft President, Donald Dubois, kicked off Boating Ontario's lineup of keynote speakers at its annual conference and trade show. This year, the association held its annual event at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario.

A cross section of industry members filled the hall for Dubois' presentation, which included a brief history of 60-year-old Canadian aluminum boat brand, some of the issues facing boat sales and boat dealers in general, and how to deal challenges within one's sphere of control.

Aided by data provided by the National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada (NMMA) and GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance, Dubois showed a series of recent boat sales trends divided into separate categories.

An initial slide he shared contained data from the US, showing that the pontoon, aluminum fishing and fibreglass outboard boat categories have lightly rebounded in recent years since the economic downturn in 2008. However, inboard and Inboard/outboard sales haven't recovered from their fall, and continue remain flat south of the border. "The market remains tough in all segments,' says Dubois of both Canada and the US. "We have to adapt and change.'

Change was one of Dubois' central themes for his discussion. He went on to identify some of the key external environmental changes facing the Canadian marine business including an aging population, a scarcity of available labour, successfully balancing work with life, various government legislations, changes in technology, globalization and the Internet. "All these things have arisen over the last decade,' he explained. "This external environment is becoming increasingly complex.'

One slide Dubois shared contained population by age group estimates. In the year 2000, seven percent of the world's population was over the age of 65. The projection for 2050 is that 16 percent will be over the age of 65. "That's a lot of people that we'll need to take care of,' says Dubois. "The government will want more money to pay for that health care. All these things will eventually affect our business. Also, older people will not be replaced by enough younger people to cover for our retirement. Currently, globally there are only 241 higher education establishments offering marine courses. Unless somebody can suddenly open a bunch of marine schools, we're going to be struggling with having less people available to help our businesses. Either these people will jump from one business to another or we're going to have to simply rethink our business. These are some of the realities we need to think about now so they don't impact us too much later on.'

For in-depth coverage of Dubois tips for dealers, see the January/February issue boat Boating Business magazine.

Each year the Boating Ontario Conference and Trade Show features a full program of industry experts and social networking opportunities. It continues until the evening of December 3.