The boating industry hasn’t fully shaken its doldrums from a few years back, but dealers can relax a little instead of struggling mightily to land sales.
Jim McClellan, general manager of Hall Marine Charleston, described the feeling as “climbing up a wall with your fingernails. Even when you’re going up, it doesn’t sound good.”
Today, the boating trade is on a more even keel. “I think to a great degree it has (recovered),” McClellan said, as the Daniel Island dealership prepares for the 12th year of its annual Boat Expo & Sale. “Sales are healthy. There are still boat markets that have struggled a little bit. You don’t get quite the consistency,” he said.
Yet Hall Marine for one is “blessed” to represent boat makers with solid roots and popular products, he said.
This year’s expo and sale takes place Sept. 20-22 on B Dock at Charleston Harbor Marina east of the Cooper. The company will display a half-dozen or so just released models and scores of 2012 and ’13 editions across its entire lineup: Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Bennington, Meridian and Summerville-based Scout Boats.
Signature boats to dock next weekend include the 2014 Scout 350 LXF and 2014 Sea Ray 470 Sundancer as well as a new, earlier model Scout Dorado 210 XSF, he said.
McClellan sounds upbeat about the upcoming expo. “It looks good. We will probably have 22 to 24 boats in the water.”
The representation will include three or four unveiled Scouts new-model Sea Ray outboards and a 54-foot Meridian with three state rooms, three beds and a $1.5 million price tag.
Also docked for the event will be a new Boston Whaler. The boat will be “more family (oriented),” he said, marking a departure for the boat-making fixture best known for its dependable fishing vessels.
Hall Marine holds the expo and sale toward the latter stages of the boating season. According to McClellan, fall marks a fine time to host such a show. “There’s still two months of boating left, and the fishing is good in the fall,” he said. Also, “there’s a certain group of people who like less (traffic),” McClellan said. They prefer picking out a new boat in the fall, “not the overwhelming enthusiasm like spring, when people can’t wait.”
Topping it off, Sept. 1 historically marks the new model year for boats, although manufacturers aren’t rigid about the date and may wait until later in the season to introduce new designs and styles, he said. Unlike car manufacturers, boat makers tend to wait until current year inventories start to dry up before rolling out new models, he said.
The 2013 season, McClellan said, has been “really good through the first part of the year.” Boat sales typically slow down during the last vestiges of summer as school starts up again and youngsters are involved with volleyball or football, he said.
But there are values out there now for boaters, McClellan said, noting that it’s a good time for people in the position to buy.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HALL MARINE BOAT EXPO & SALE AT A GLANCE:
Sponsor: Hall Marine Charleston
When: Sept. 20-22
Where: Charleston Harbor Marina – B Dock
Hours: Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Price: Free admission and parking
Models: Bennington pontoons; 19- to 47-foot Sea Rays; 17- to 35-foot Scouts; Meridian Yachts; 17- to 32-foot Boston Whalers
Special offer: Boaters can register at www.HallMarine.com to schedule a VIP showing for any yacht or sport yacht displayed.