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Houston Boat Show Could Be An Economic Indicator

With last summer's drought and a still recovering economy, organizers at Houston's summer boat show hope things are a bit different this year. Vendors say a lot of things to get people to buy luxury items like boats this weekend.


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A few hours before the 25th annual Houston Boat Show opened to the public at Reliant Center, workers were completing the setup that features every type of recreational vassal on water — from kayaks to fishing boats to ski and even skateboarding boats. For the first time, RVs will be on display.

Boat Show president Ken Lovell has been in the business for years.

“It’s a great family activity. It’s something the whole family can get together and enjoy together … you take golf and other sports that are more individual. So it’s a great family activity, boating is.”

Hernandez: “How long have you been president?”

Lovell: “Since 1988.”

Hernandez: “Things have changed since then, huh?”

Lovell: “They’ve definitely changed over the years, definitely.  We’ve gotten a little more fuel efficient with our boats, and more safe as well.”

Factors that play a role in the general economy also affect the watercraft industry.

Lovell says it should be evident with more people attending this weekend.

“I’m looking forward to this one really to tell you the truth. With the drought last year hurt us, and with the lakes being full again, fuel prices falling, things are looking up.”

Exhibitors like Tommy Nolan feel the same way about the industry rebounding.

“We’re up from 2007-2008 when the recession really hit hard. Everybody had a lot of inventory. The builders were all geared up to build numerous boats a year, and it kind of came to a screeching halt. So it hurt a lot, a lot of boat manufacturers went out of business, and most of those lines are coming back.”

Nolan’s boats are big and geared for the serious sports fisherman.

“A lot of these guys will go 100-120 miles one way. A lot of them are blue marlin fishing or fishing for large tuna. That’s kind of what these boats are designed for, because they’re fast and they’re real fuel efficient, and they’ve got the range to go 100-200 miles.”

Hernandez: “What’s the price range of your product here?”

Nolan: “The larger boats are in the $250,000-300,000 range. Smallest boat we brought this year is a “25 Contender” and it’s a little under a $100,000.”

Hernandez: “How many boats do you hope to unload before the boat show’s over?”

Nolan: “We brought six and we’d like to see them all find a new home.”

Additional evidence of a resurgence can be seen in the increase in attendance at other boat shows in Texas.      

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