The speaker was Hank Hartmann, a friend of Dave McFadden. Dave first stepped to the podium to introduce his friend. Hank’s experience includes several years in the New Jersey boating industry. At the present time, Hank works for Sandy Hook Yacht Sales.    

    Hank opened his speech with a history. The marine industry in New Jersey got its start after World War II. The fishing industry is what brought recreational boating to the Jersey Shore. There was what Hank called exclusive participation. The participation was attributed to the costs, the lack of facilities, and how expensive it all was. Happily, changes took place down the line. Wood was first used to make boats. Then later, it was decided to use fiberglass to make boats so they would be affordable. After 1959, boats weren’t only for fisherman; cruising on boats became an activity. Manufactures started to build different boats. Popularity grew. Marinas appeared. Work needed to get done. Fuel docks had to be constructed. The industry got bigger and bigger. It turned into a significant part in the economy. As the industry got bigger, so did the participation. Then the industry went through setbacks, like when the financial meltdown happened in 2008. Boats had fewer uses between 2008 and 2011. Fewer boats were purchased. Some boat owners didn’t put their boats in the water. The industry basically shrank. 

    The good news was that the downturn wasn’t permanent. Growth came back around 2012. People took their boats out again. Younger people got into boating. More boat registrations were documented. More slips filled up in marinas. Currently, the marine industry (just recreational boating) is a $2 ½ billion industry. There are about 15 thousand jobs. The industry is comprised of mainly small companies; however, there are large companies too. MarineMax, Inc., a national company, has many locations in the state. Large companies own certain marinas; nevertheless, some mom-and-pop marinas are still in existence. Hank believes that the people within the large companies have given the small marina workers a deeper understanding of how to maintain a better marina, especially when it comes to environmental issues. Today, Hank believes recreational boaters (for the most part) are very environmentally conscious. They have helped the standards. They have made people remember to throw their garbage in the proper bags or containers and not overboard or out a window.

    Hank has been around boats his whole life. That’s not the case for everybody. Hank has found that more exposure leads to more comfort. Boating is a great activity. Groups go out fishing. Boat owners take their friends out to see the beautiful sights. Maybe the groups stop to get a bite to eat. Hank has noticed many families out on the water. People make return trips with their children. Hank, along with others who have a passion for boating, would miss the industry if he wasn’t in it. The industry is filled with nice individuals. Many fun times take place. But dedication, discipline, and motivation are needed if someone wants to work in the industry. Boating can take up entire days.  It gives a person a reason to get dressed in the morning. Boat owners who lead busy lives still find the time to get out on the water.

    New Jersey is definitely a state good for boating. Winds along the coast have made sailing ideal. The Shore has created several opportunities for people to experience boating. Yacht clubs have junior sailing programs. The children get acclimated to boats. They begin to understand all about the activity. Learning about boating has been compared to learning to swim.

    The industry will most likely move forward in the future. These days, the state has fewer small boats registered than in the past. The balance is more toward bigger boats. This is attributed to the signs of the times. Certain individuals in this present economy have been able to buy bigger boats. Guys have reentered the market in bigger numbers. Availability is one reason for the bigger numbers. Some guys are willing to sell their boats at the price that’s 1 percent of the cost of a new one. So opportunities are out there for potential buyers.

    Opportunities exist for individuals who want to get into boating but don’t want to buy at first. Daily boat rentals are limited. So belonging to a boat club is a wonderful option for those individuals. The experience is a good first step.  

    Hank went on to say that he believes if people show they want to go boating, the government ought to use some tax dollars (with our approval) to help to provide access because some areas have limitations. For instance, there are only town launch ramps in Monmouth County. Our area could also have County launch ramps.