Boating Industry Entrepreneurs Getting Up on Plane

Aug 18, 2020

I have spent many perfect days in the sunshine on Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Columbia River cruising in a boat on plane with family and friends enjoying all the Pacific Northwest has to offer its lucky residents and visitors.  A renaissance in the United States boating industry started in 2018 with an eleven year high in revenue, continued in 2019, but it took COVID-19 to put the industry on plane at an unanticipated level of velocity that will likely see snowball growth and future stability into the foreseeable future.

The reason for America’s 2020 enhanced love affair with boating is driven by what the science is telling us we should be doing this summer: social distancing, being outside, spending time with our inner circle of family & friends in small groups,  and limiting travel away from our homes.  This recreational passion is anticipated by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) to result in 2020 revenue numbers above the $42 billion spent in 2019 on boats, marine products, and services. 2019 consumer demand in the recreational boating industry had a $6.9 billion impact in Washington and $1.6 billion impact in Oregon supporting 22,872 and 5993 jobs in the states.  2020 is anticipated to exceed those economic impacts and numbers of jobs created.  This trend has been widely documented including in Forbes ( and the New York Times ( recently.

One reason the consumer trend is anticipated to continue is that many of the purchases are being made by the Millennial generation, people born between 1981 – 1996 (Currently 24 – 39 years of age), a group that is in their prime earning and family years. Boating is a social and aspirational activity. Families and individuals that bought boats in 2018 & 2019 are having friends buy boats in 2020.  Starter boats are progressing to larger boats. Existing boats are enhanced and accessorized. Many fortunes were made in America by entrepreneurs satisfying the needs of the Baby Boomer generation.  The Millennial generation exceeds the Baby Boomers in size comprising 21.97% of America’s 330 million population versus 21.19% for the Boomers.  The economic power of this group is mirrored in many other industries, including the home improvement segment.  Using Home Depot’s stock as an example of this influence on company fortunes, a five-year review of the stock finds it has risen from about $115 per share to over $280 during this time period, an increase of 143%.

IBA, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, and a market leader in facilitating business sales in the marine & boating industry for over forty-five years has enjoyed seeing the entrepreneurs in this industry return to strength after some tough years after the last recession when Generation X, the smallest of the last four generations, currently 40 – 55 in age, did not have the ability or desire to become boaters for almost half of the last decade creating an environment where fewer upgrades and persuasion of friends occurred for a period of time, a market dynamic that has happily passed.

If you are an owner of a recreational boating business, perhaps a Baby Boomer ready to retire, the experienced & knowledgeable members of our marine & boating industry transaction team would welcome the opportunity to learn about your business and provide an overview of our services. All information shared with IBA is held in strict confidence and 100% of our fees are payable upon performance when the project is completed.

If you are an entrepreneur interested in entering this growing, enjoyable industry, we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you. A significant percentage of the companies represented by IBA sell to buyers in our Buyer Database program with limited or no time in the public domain on the market.  Participants in our Buyer Database program get the first opportunity to look at new businesses exclusively represented by IBA for sale.  The buyers in our Buyer Database program continue to complete acquisitions in 2020.   This market demand for quality companies by motivated buyers has resulted in seven completed transactions by IBA’s business brokers in the last seven weeks for our clients.  Completed transactions in 2020 included a highly respected boat repair yard in Anacortes, Washington.  Presently we are representing for a sale a wonderful boat dealership, repair yard, and storage business to facilitate the retirement of the owner that had gross revenues of over $13 million in 2019 and recently completed a 2020 June month that experienced 35%+ growth over last year’s revenue booking in access of $2.5 million in sales.

Oprah Winfrey once said, “Passion is energy. Feel the power of focusing on what excites you.”.  It has been my experience that the boating and automotive industries are two industries where entrepreneurs can achieve their financial goals working in an industry they would work in for free.  If a person can obtain economic security while whistling a happy tune while they work, they are well on their way to having a quality, fulfilled life.  It is our hope that you will consider IBA for your crew whether you are bringing your business into dock for the final time or looking for the right business opportunity to set sail.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.