Boat sales picking up speed in Nevada

After struggling during the Great Recession, boat sales are surging again in the U.S. and Southern Nevada.

Recently released data from The National Marine Manufacturers Association and its 2016 recreational boating statistical abstract said the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is at a post-recession high.

“The industry has been growing 6 percent each year for the past four, five years,” said Thomas Dammrich, association president. “We’re not completely back to where we were before the recession, but we’re the highest we’ve been at since.”

The resurgence is being felt in Southern Nevada.

Candice Hayes, sales manager at Boating Lake Mead’s Dry Dock Boat Sales in Las Vegas, said the recession was one of the biggest challenges the family business has faced.

“Our 50th anniversary was 2007, and that was kind of the end of everything being great,” she said of the company that launched in 1957. “It was a lot of work … there were a lot of dealers across the country that didn’t make it.”

Lately, though, Hayes has seen a major upswing in boat sales. One of the most popular segments are tow boats, which can pull gear like wakeboards or water skis.

“We’ve been on the upward trend for the past couple years, but this year’s been the biggest jump,” she said. “We’re definitely at a high of where we were over the past 10 years.”

Similar trends can be found all across the country, according to The National Marine Manufacturers Association.

New powerboat unit sales increased 6 percent in 2016, and are expected to continue to increase at this rate throughout 2017 and 2018. New ski and wakeboard boats were up 11.5 percent in 2016, and jet boats increased 8.7 percent. Yacht sales saw a 3.5 percent increase in sales, reaching 1,715 units in 2016.

Dammrich said the industry’s comeback can be attributed to high consumer confidence and low unemployment. While unit sales still need to catch up, dollar sales in the boat industry are back to a pre-recession high.

“All the economic signals are confident,” Dammrich said. “It’s very likely that in 2017 we’ll be back in pre-recession high as far as unit sales.”


Although baby boomers are still the primary buyers of new boats, Dammrich said, younger generations are starting to invest in the market.

“We’re starting to see some increase in (Generation X) and millennials,” Dammrich said. “We expect to see those two segments grow pretty quickly over next decade.”

Dammrich said boat manufacturers are making changes to attract millennial buyers, 83 percent of whom have “a strong propensity toward boating.”

These changes are making boats easier to use, Dammrich said, with features like joystick docking, communication systems and more ways to integrate technology.

“You have manufacturers that are building boats with more outlets and USB ports for electronics,” he said. “Millennials aren’t going to go anywhere without their electronics.”

The fastest-growing boats in popularity, according to the study, are pontoons, saltwater fishing boats and ski and wakeboard boats.

Hayes said she’s seen a shift from cruise boats to sport boats in the past few years at Dry Dock Boat Sales and attributes it to younger generations entering the market.

“The buyers have changed,” she said. “It used to be the parents. Now, the tow boats are driven by high-income millennials or Gen Xers, or they’re pushing their parents to buy it … while our typical buyer (at Dry Dock Boat Sales) is not the millennial, I think they’re definitely an influencer for the family.”

Local trends

Stuart Litjens, owner of the dealership Boulder Boats in Henderson, said he’s seen a similar trend among his customers. Litjens said tow boats and pontoon boats have grown in popularity in recent years, with water sports like wake surfing driving sales.

With boating, Litjens said, the whole family has something to do — whether you’re a parent who wants to pilot and relax or a younger family member who wants to wake surf.

“With boating, you’re all involved, you’re all together,” he said. “In that sense, it’s not uncommon that we have a middle-aged professional family with younger children be brand new to this sport.”

While Nevada boat sales have closely followed national levels in overall growth, the state trails other areas.

Nevada was 44th among the states in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016, according to the NMMA.

Hayes said even though their business sells year round, the city simply doesn’t have a large boating market.

“Las Vegas, obviously there’s a ton of stuff to do here. So boating is not a priority … there’s not a lot of places to boat here,” she said.

Yet many still have an optimistic outlook for the boating industry in Las Vegas. Nathan Yates, director of research at the research and consulting firm Forward View, said in an email that Las Vegas offers a rare large inland boat market with man-made reservoirs, excellent weather and an abundance of affluent buyers. Because of this, the market has potential to grow along with the national boating industry.

“We do believe that the boating industry will grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy through the end of the decade,” Yates said. “While boat demand is at a post-recession high, sales remain below the likely cyclical peak … both the RV and marine industries are seeing strength.”

Hayes expects the growing trend in boat sales to continue.

“If you look at boat sales trends over the past 30 years, absolutely … I would definitely see that we have a nice upward trend for a few years,” she said. “There’s a lot of ground to make up.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at or 702-383-0256. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like