MRAA Represents Voice of Dealers at American Boating Congress

Last week the recreational boating industry, including the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA), visited Washington, D.C., for the annual American Boating Congress (ABC) hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). MRAA staff, certified dealers and members of the MRAA board of directors met with lawmakers to discuss the contributions of the marine industry to the larger economy as well as issues of concern and how Congress can help.

MRAA Represents Voice of Dealers at American Boating Congress - 2024
Mike Sayre, MRAA Director of Government Relations, Chad Taylor, President Taylor’s South Shore Marina, Mike Davin, MRAA Vice President of Industry Relations, Jeff Strong, President Strong’s Marine, Matt Gruhn, MRAA President, Chad Tokowicz, MRAA Government Relations Manager, and Joe Lewis, General Manager Mount Dora Boating Center.

ABC, an integral event for the recreational boating industry, enables business owners and stakeholders to discuss issues impacting their businesses and the recreational boating industry directly with their elected officials. These conversations are key in developing relationships between members of Congress and event attendees, laying critical groundwork for the MRAA Government Relations Team.

This year, ABC featured a new schedule, with attendees coming in Wednesday for a day of programming and preparation ahead of a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, followed by a dinner and keynote speakers. While on the Hill, MRAA staff and members visited with various offices, including meeting with the staff of Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY-1), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2) and many more.

These meetings put MRAA members and staff at the table with key members of Congress and their staff, presenting the opportunity to discuss key policy priorities like the LAKES Act as well as issues impacting the recreational boating industry like the proposed Right Whale Vessel Speed Rule and proposed tariffs on aluminum extrusions.

After a long day of successful Hill meetings, attendees reconvened for a dinner and to hear from Keynote Speakers Mike Allen and Alex Thompson from Axios. In a fireside chat, moderated by NMMA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Robyn Boerstling, Allen and Thompson prognosticated about the 2024 Presidential Election, provided input about the importance of policy at the state level, and gave insights about the unique political and legislative landscape we are in currently.

The final day of ABC, Friday, May 10, featured a panel that discussed efforts to bolster the workforce in the recreational marine industry. Again moderated by Boerstling, the panel featured MRAA’s Mike Davin, Vice President of Industry Relations, Randall Lyons, Executive Director for the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association and John Adey, Executive Director of the American Boat and Yacht Council. The panel discussed current efforts being undertaken by each organization while diving into the opportunities for collaboration among various entities.

MRAA represents voice of dealers at American Boating Congress - panel
Randall Lyons, Executive Director Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, Mike Davin, MRAA Vice President of Industry Relations, John Adey, President American Boat and Yacht Council and Rob Newsome, Senior Vice President of Operations National Marine Manufacturers Association.

In all, ABC 2024 was a success and the MRAA staff and members ensured dealer concerns were represented and made known. This is a challenging time of year for dealers to break away and engage in advocacy, which is why the MRAA Government Relations Team is consistently advocating on behalf of retailers to ensure the voice of the dealer is always included. As they say in D.C., if you are not at the table, you are on the menu, and MRAA works to keep you at the table.

If you have any questions about ABC or want to attend in 2025, please do not hesitate to reach out to Chad Tokowicz, MRAA Government Relations Manager, at or Mike Sayre, MRAA Director of Government Relations, at