Toronto International Boat Show Sold

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today announced the completion of an agreement to sell the Toronto International Boat Show to Canadian Boat Shows, Inc. (CBSI). The sale is expected to be finalized on March 31, 2010.

The 52 year-old Toronto International Boat Show has been owned by Chicago-based NMMA since 1992, when it was purchased from the Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows. With its world-renowned indoor lake, it is one of the largest consumer boat shows in North America, and one of the pre-eminent selling venues for the recreational boating industry.

Newly-formed Canadian Boat Shows, Inc. will be led by Linda Waddell, NMMA's Vice President of Northern Shows. Formed for the purpose of the acquisition, CBSI consists of Waddell, the Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA), long-time Canadian show producer Peter Kiddell of Canwest Shows, and a group of investors. Waddell will remain with NMMA until the transaction is finalized. Specific terms of the sale are undisclosed.

The majority of NMMA's Canadian boat show staff will join Waddell at Canadian Boat Shows, Inc. including Show Manager, Cynthia Hare; Sales Manager, Scott Macinnes; Operations Manager, Kim Blair; and Administrative Manager, Ruth Krentz.

“Bringing ownership of the show back to Canada is a great opportunity for our industry,” says Waddell. “Many of our shareholders, including the OMOA, have long been key stakeholders in the recreational boating industry in Canada. Successful and innovative business leaders, they are keenly interested in the sustained success and positive economic impact of the show.”

A strong advocate for boat show exhibitors and recreational boating, Waddell is a 23-year industry veteran whose career spans both Canada and the United States, most recently as NMMA's Vice President, Northern Shows. Waddell's commitment and roots with the show run deep – she was TIBS show manager prior to NMMA's acquisition in 1992. She will serve as CBSI President.

“TIBS is a world-class show, produced by a world-class team,” says Al Donaldson, executive director of the OMOA, the largest recreational marine trade association in Canada. “Our board of directors is delighted that the OMOA has been able to acquire an ownership position in this new venture.” Donaldson will chair the CBSI Board of Directors.

On the heels of its recent acquisition of the New England Boat Show in January, the sale of the Toronto International Boat Show comes as the NMMA continues to reposition its boat show portfolio. The repositioning is part of a larger long-term strategy, enabling the association to continue to best serve the industry's advocacy, marketing, and research and statistics needs while producing quality boat shows in key markets throughout the United States.

“Selling the Toronto show is a strategic decision that allows us to expand our reach in other markets and better position NMMA to best serve the industry for the long term,” notes NMMA President, Thom Dammrich. “There are a lot of opportunities for NMMA and the recreational boating industry as the economy rebounds and we make changes to better align with shifts in the economic climate.”

Adds Dammrich, “Toronto is a strong market and with Linda Waddell remaining at the helm of the show, we are confident it will be in excellent hands and continue to offer incredible value for the industry.”

NMMA will maintain its presence in Canada to serve the needs of marine manufacturers doing business in Canada, with its team dedicated to government relations, member communications, research and statistics and the Canadian Discover Boating campaign. The Canadian team is led by Sara Anghel, Vice President for NMMA Canada, and will remain in its Ontario headquarters in Bolton, ON.

“It's business as usual for the 2011 Toronto International Boat Show, scheduled to run January 8 to 16 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place,” confirms Waddell. “Working together with the TIBS show committee will continue; this relationship has been a key factor in the show's long time success. In addition, our staff will remain intact and in touch, based out of the same TIBS offices in Bolton.” Waddell acknowledged the synergies inherent in the close proximity of the CBSI and NMMA groups, as both “are committed to growing boating and making it the number one recreational pursuit of Canadians.”

Recreational boating annually represents more than $26 billion in economic impact to Canada, with more than 52 percent of all Canadian boaters living in Ontario. Each year generating more than $354 million in economic impact to the region, during the last five years the Toronto International Boat Show has annually attracted more than 550 exhibitors and an average attendance of 90,000 visitors.