Jopie Helsen has established a line of communication with the Mayor’s Office and they are looking out for input from the Marine Industry as they work on the Master plan for the development of the St. Pete Waterfront.
The initial plan was rejected and Jopie is pushing hard to be sure there is a recreational boating element included in any future plan. He is asking for the help of all interested members to work with him in making recommendations to the city.
Call us or contact Jopie at 727-823-1155, ext. 206 – firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great example of how we can work together to improve boating for all our customers.
On Friday, December 6th, 2013 the Manasota/Tampa Bay (MTB) Region of the SWFMIA held the first industry breakfast meeting at the Hanger Restaurant. We had great attendance with 92 people representing 62 companies. We also signed up 6 new members. The meeting was opened by the MTB Regional Chairman, Jopie Helsen of the Sailor’s Wharf Yacht Yard. He thanked the sponsors Port Supply-West Marine and Mastry Engine Center who made this meeting not only a success but very affordable for a complete buffet breakfast.
Jopie introduced John Good, the executive director of SWFMIA who talked about the achievements of the Region. John introduced Hans Wilson, the SWFMIA president who gave a MIAF update and talked about his role as a member of Governor Scott’s Boating Advisory Council. Hans introduced Missy Timmins, our state legislative lobbyist who gave a very enthusiastic overview of all that is happening in our state concerning our industry. She also brought to our attention upcoming issues that may affect our industry. We are all very happy to have Missy Timmins on our team.
Next, Norm Schultz, an icon in the marine industry for the past 30 years, was introduced and spoke about all the benefits of belonging to a marine association and that we can’t do it alone. If we work together as a team, we will have more impact to accomplish all our goals to make us all successful. Jopie Helsen talked about the issues that are affecting our industry in the Tampa Bay area including the dredging issues of the passes on Florida’s West Coast and the local channels that have shoaled and will not allow boats to get in our out of their slips based on the tides. He has also been named to the St. Pete Waterfront Task Force to represent our association and has been asked by the Pinellas County Commissioners to give a presentation of our industry on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014.
John Good finished the meeting by talking about our website www.goboatingflorida.com and the improvements that will be made to the site in 2014. He also encouraged those who are not yet a member of our association to join.
Jopie Helsen, Regional Chairman
The 2013 Fort Myers Boat Show was by any standard our best show in several years. Overall attendance was up nearly 20%, and if the weather on Saturday had been just a little nicer, attendance would have been even better. Sales results were very strong and we have heard nothing but positive comments from exhibitors and show visitors. With waterfront improvements finished, the show had a fresh look. The city of Ft. Myers stall did a great job on all fronts, including a much improved parking plan. We are already looking forward to 2014!
The Charlotte County Boat Show, Jan. 16-19 is just around the corner and we hope the same momentum continues with our first show in 2014. The show always produces surprising results for exhibitors and there is still time if you want to participate. Give us a call.
After 25 years, our Spring Boat Show is now the Bonita Springs Boat Show, March 6-9 at the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track and it is gaining momentum. Layouts and contracts are being mailed and e-mailed. Since this is a new location and new layout, we are adhering to a strict policy for the initial space assignments. If you are planning to exhibit and you have participated in a SWFMIA show in 2013, be sure you read the procedure and get your contract and deposit back to us by Monday, January 20th.
Over the last couple of years, SWFMIA has devoted significant effort and dollars to developing our consumer boating website and social media campaign. It has been a resounding success. In 2012, our site had 9,778 visits. In 2013, that number soared to 27,664. Our Facebook Page has over 7,000 likes! As a SWFMIA member you benefit from all those visits. In fact, after the Boat Show Pages, our directory pages (listing of members and services) are the most frequently visited part of the site beyond the home page.
In 2014, you will once again see significant improvements, including a much expanded directory listing for each member. Our goal is to not only give the boating public a great informational boating site but also to drive those consumers to our member businesses.
Remember that there are limited, low cost advertising opportunities for members. In 2013, only five members advertised on the site, but all together those five received more than 85,000 impressions. Give us a call if you want more details.
Finally, and perhaps most important is our need to have you be a part of the GBF website. Keeping content fresh is critical, and providing us with interesting information about you or your customers having fun on the water (along with photos) or promoting events is free publicity for you. It does not have to be long or professionally written. Just a few paragraphs, and we’ll do the editing. Please help us!
At our recent annual Planning session, the Board approved a budget for 2014. Our biggest push for the year to enhance the benefit to members is a complete overhaul of our swfmia.com site. Swfmia.com is our association site containing all kinds of association information, Boat Show Information, Legislative Updates, Industry News, etc. It is a functional site but it is time to take it to a new level.
We want our association site to have the same impact within the industry as our GBF site does on the consumer side. Pearl Brands, who developed and maintains the GBF site have been retained to work their magic on the SWFMIA site. It will have a completely new look, probably with some similarities to GBF. It will have many new features and opportunities for our members to use the site, both to communicate with other members and as a resource for industry information. Many details will follow but look for this to be another big step in the growth of our association.
I’ve made this comment before, but our Association is really fortunate to have a great Board of Directors. Our board has eleven members plus our new Chairman of the Manasota/Tampa Bay Region. On December 18th, the Board met for its annual planning session. This is the one time each year that an extended meeting is held to review the past year, approve a budget, and set goals and priorities. In many organizations, these kinds of meetings can be cumbersome at best. In our case, however, meetings are always productive and stress free. Every member of our board is a real asset to us. Everyone contributes and everyone has the association’s best interest in mind.
Of course it helps that we are financially strong. 2013 was a good year for your association. Each year, we set a budget that is based fairly closely on actual numbers from the previous year. A balanced, zero based, budget. While we are cautious in how we spend your money, we also believe that money the association earns should be used to promote boating and our membership. We carry substantial reserves to protect us against the proverbial rainy day so why not make use of our annual revenues.
This year, the board committed to re-launching our association website. They approved funds for our political and legislative efforts. That includes continuing support of the industry’s efforts in Tallahassee through the Marine Industries Association of Florida, a retainer for our local Government Affairs Consultant Joe Mazurkiewicz, and contingency funds for whatever comes along. They approved another year’s budget for our Welcome to the Water television commercials.
Representatives from our state association and our Tallahassee Lobbyist Missy Timmins were in hand with an update on MIAF and what to expect in the next year in Tallahassee. Missy does a great job representing boating and it was really nice of her to make the trip to Ft. Myers to give the board a personal update.
I want to thank all of our board members, Jopie Helsen, Missy Timmins, and Frank Donahue and John Sprague of MIAF, for taking pretty much an entire day to work through a long agenda.
Hans Wilson & Assoc.
From the Helm – Finally! 2014 is here! Not that 2013 was THAT bad, but let’s just say I am glad to see it in my wake. The beginning of the new year is always full of promise. New beginnings, an opportunity to alter bad habits, a recognition of change particularly within ourselves. I have been working hard with John and Laura to try and seek options to keep our Association growing and thriving, bringing value to our membership, and advancing our boating agenda.
It is a pretty simple agenda: service the needs of our membership; get more people on the water; make it easy for them to do it; and work on projects that involve the next generation of boaters. If we don’t get them on the water at an early age, to appreciate the beauty, the value of resource, the variability of nature, then we are not doing our job of advancing boating,
Our GoBoatingFlorida.com website has been a great resource for many of our boating public. The website has made it more attractive to go boating with fishing reports, personal anecdotes, how-to articles, and adventure stories about boating. It is an opportunity for the novice boater to get a taste of what boating is about.
It is now time for us to pump up our industry website for more effective communications on the political winds and how they affect our industry. So along with increasing our membership locally and up the coast into Tampa and St. Petersburg, we will be working on how the Association can bring value to our members with workshops, political representation on important issues affecting boating, and special events to attract new boaters to the lifestyle. Stay tuned! 2014 should be a hoot!