If marine dealers’ congressmen and women don’t know them on a first-name basis, dealers aren’t communicating enough with them.
“The best thing you can really do as a dealer is have your local congressman know you by name so you can call him yourself and tell him how you feel” about issues affecting the marine industry, Yamaha Marine Group president Ben Speciale told Trade Only Today.
Speciale said some of the issues — notably the threat of E15 in the fuel supply and problems with saltwater recreational fishing laws — are the most important challenges facing the industry today. Not the economy or competition with other recreations or marine lending, Speciale said.
So Yamaha is trying to make it easier for its 2,000-strong dealer network to make inroads with their local legislators through theYamaha Marine Advocacy online tool it unveiled last week.
For example, legislators might not understand the hurdles brought on by E10 gasoline that the industry has already tackled. Without that background, it might be more difficult for lawmakers to grasp the potential harmful effects of E15, Speciale said.
“It’s real simple. We have to be the facilitator of that discussion, and that’s why we’re so passionate about this marine advocacy tool,” Speciale said. “This has been a long time coming, and I’m really excited about it.”
Capping the ethanol blend at 10 percent is one of two issues the site focuses on, Speciale said.
The other is trying to ensure that the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act includes language that specifically addresses the recreational fishing industry, instead of lumping it in with commercial fishing, as has been the case for decades.
Yamaha dealers and boatbuilders can access Yamaha Marine Advocacy through the Yamaha Marine Business System and identify their federal legislators. They can then choose to communicate with legislators through a variety of media (Twitter, email, etc.) about issues affecting the industry.
Yamaha will conduct orientation sessions at dealer meetings throughout the boatbuilder meeting season. Dates and locations will be announced. In addition, Yamaha will be contacting its boatbuilders and dealers by phone to answer questions about the system and how it functions.
The company is also trying to facilitate more face-to-face meetings between members of Congress and the dealers they represent. It’s all part of Yamaha’s increasing emphasis on marine GR — government relations — Speciale said.
“I can sit in a boardroom and have these discussions all day, but the thing we bring to the table is the voice of 2,000 dealers,” Speciale said. “If we can get them all speaking with the same voice, we’ll be a lot more effective. We don’t have that [huge ethanol lobby], but what we have that they don’t is all our small business owners. I’ve never met a congressman who doesn’t want to go visit a small business. Those are his constituents. It’s pretty exciting.”