MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – May 30 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — With gas prices hovering above $3 a gallon and expected to creep higher throughout the summer, it is critical now more than ever that boating consumers find reputable dealers to buy from and service their boats. Thanks to Boating Industry magazine and its soon-to-be-published list of the 2007 Top 100 Dealers, consumers will soon have the definitive list of the best-of-the-best dealers at their fingertips.
The Top 100 Dealers Program, a ranking of those marine dealers that are unsurpassed in overall business operations, customer service, marketing and professionalism, has developed a growing reputation not only for celebrating dealer successes, but also for helping the marine dealer community improve on all fronts. And to help bring the Boating Industry Top 100 to life, Ehlert Publishing Group, the magazine’s parent company, created the Leadership Alliance – an elite group of the marine industry’s leading suppliers. These companies were invited to participate because they possess as one of their corporate values a true belief in, and commitment to, raising the bar of professionalism across all marine industry sectors, particularly for dealers.
“The Boating Industry Top 100 has, in short order, become the most coveted award in the marine market,” said Tammy Galvin, group publisher for Ehlert’s trade magazines. “Marine dealers are on the front line with consumers every day, and this is one way we can help provide much needed benchmarking information for all other dealers to measure themselves against.”
“While most industry awards are given to those dealers that sell the most boats, our Top 100 program is much more qualitatively focused,” said Matt Gruhn, editor-in-chief of Boating Industry, “thereby leveling the playing field for all dealers and directing consumers to those dealers that can best deliver on the dream that boat ownership promises.”
The 2007 Leadership Alliance members include: BRP US Inc./Evinrude, GE Capital Solutions/GE Money, Yamaha, BoatTrader.com, Volvo Penta, ADP Lightspeed, Honda Marine, Channel Blade Technologies, Manheim Specialty Auctions and the Marine Retailers Association of America.
Boating Industry magazine, along with the Leadership Alliance, will announce the 2007 Top 100 at an invitation-only gala awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Nov. 28, 2007.
Meet the 2007 Leadership Alliance:
Boating Industry magazine, a 78-year-old business-to-business publication owned by Ehlert Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity Group Inc., is the most authoritative and widely respected magazine serving the marine industry. Visit www.boating-industry.com to learn more about the Top 100 and view the lists of previous winners.
BRP U.S. Inc./Evinrude, Sturtevant, Wis., has been delivering quality recreational experiences for people around the world for more than six decades. In 2001, Evinrude and Johnson outboard engines joined the Bombardier family, and in 2003 after extensive R&D, the company released Evinrude E-TEC, which revolutionized the outboard engine industry. BRP also produces innovative products and brands such as Sea-Doo watercraft and sport boats, Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Rotax karts and engines and Bombardier ATVs and utility vehicles. Visit www.evinrude.com
GE Capital Solutions, Commercial Distribution Finance unit (CDF), in Hoffman Estates, Ill., creates customized financing programs to help manufacturers sell more products and dealers stock optimal levels of inventory to drive more sales. With more than 50 years of experience serving the marine industry, CDF supports its customers with the industry’s most knowledgeable staff and provides a single point of contact for support. CDF is a recognized leader in the marine industry because it is dedicated to helping customers improve cash flow and grow their businesses though an array of financing programs and services. Visit: www.ge.com/cdf. GE Money Sales Finance, based in Kettering, Ohio, has provided marine dealers and manufacturers quality retail lending programs for more than 25 years. Sales Finance also provides private label credit card programs, marketing, installment lending, service contracts and financial services for national and regional retailers, dealers, manufacturers and service providers in more than 20 industries. With more than $190 billion in assets, GE Money, a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), is a leading provider of credit services to consumers, retailers and auto dealers in more than 54 countries. Visit: www.gemoney.com
Yamaha Marine Group, Kennesaw, Ga., has quickly become a leader in product quality and technology by providing superior value and customer satisfaction. The company has built a strong brand and loyal customer base in the marine market for its outboard engines as well as its Skeeter, Century and G3 boat brands. In 2000, Yamaha Marine introduced its High Pressure Direct Injection technology that swept the top three industry awards for innovation, design and engineering-the marine equivalent of horse racing’s Triple Crown. A more recent award-winning and industry-defining introduction is the F350, the world’s first V8 5.3-liter four-stroke outboard. Visit: www.yamaha-motor.com
BoatTrader.com, the online portal for Boat Trader Magazine, is the nation’s largest boating classified source. Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., BoatTrader.com displays more than 110,000 boats to an audience of 2.2 million visitors nationwide each month. It serves as a convenient and effective advertising forum for boat dealers and brokers. The company’s goal is to make it easier and faster for its dealers to expand their online presence and to ultimately sell more boats. For more information on BoatTrader.com, call 877-354-4069 or visit www.BoatTrader.com
Volvo Penta, headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, has become the fastest-growing marine engine company in the world by constantly developing innovative new products and services. Founded in 1907, Volvo Penta introduced its first outboard engine in 1922, the first in-line 6-cylinder diesel in 1946, the first sterndrive in 1959, the first duo-prop in 1982 and Electronic Diesel Control in 1995. In 2004, Volvo Penta changed the face of marine propulsion forever with the Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS). Volvo Penta’s core values-quality, safety and care for the environment-drive the development of new products as well as how the company serves its customers. For more information about Volvo Penta, visit www.volvopenta.com
ADP Lightspeed has the No. 1 software programs in the automotive, heavy truck and powersports industries and now, with the backing of the Automatic Data Processing Co., its LightspeedMarine dealer management system is quickly nearing the top spot in the marine industry as well. LightSpeedMarine’s integrated modules include: Comprehensive Sales and F&I Tools, Real-Time Accounting Functions, Complete Service Cycle Tracking, Automated Parts and Inventory Management and Unit Rental Management. Visit: www.adplightspeed.com
Honda Marine, Alpharetta, Ga., has continued its long corporate history of innovation and responsibility with a proud legacy of groundbreaking design and leadership in the boating industry.
In 1973, Honda introduced the first full line of 4-stroke outboard engines in the United States-long before other outboard manufacturers realized the advantages of this type of clean, reliable power and followed suit. The company works to ensure that every Honda outboard model sets the standard for fuel efficiency and ease of operation, while staying true to the core Honda attributes of durability, quiet operation, quality, reliability, outstanding fuel efficiency and ultra-low emissions. Visit: www.hondamarine.com
Channel Blade Technologies, branded for the company’s sharp focus on the entire distribution channel of its clients, provides innovative Web solutions to the marine, RV and powersports industries. Channel Blade’s development of eXceleratePro, Branded Flow Technology and the Footsteps Customer Relationship Management tool revolutionized the way the recreation industry conducts Web-enabled business by driving customers from online leads to the showroom, ultimately resulting in more successful sales. The company’s expert team is committed to the success of its existing and future partners and customers. Visit: www.channelblade.com
Manheim Specialty Auctions was created in 2003 by Manheim-a trusted name in the auction industry for more than 60 years-to meet the growing needs of customers looking for vehicles other than the traditional automobile. The company created auctions with sales dedicated to boats, RVs, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and powersports vehicles at 20 locations nationwide. Manheim offers dealers who participate in its auction process many benefits, including a critical mass of buyers and sellers, credible pricing, market liquidity, affordable participation and technological applications. Atlanta-based Manheim is a global organization with 32,000 employees at 145 locations. Visit: www.manheim.com.
The Marine Retailers Association of America is the leading not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting the recreational marine industry and the welfare of the marine retailer. The association raises the standards of retailing within the industry, provides its members a common source of information concerning all aspects of marine retailing and serves as the voice within the industry and in Washington regarding issues concerning marine dealers nationwide. Visit: www.mraa.com
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