Largest regional boat show marks 40 years in Charlotte

February 2012 News

Local marine businesses are banking on a big weekend once the calendar flips to February. They're hoping area boat enthusiasts will see it as the same opportunity.

The 40th Mid-Atlantic Boat Show anchors into Charlotte Convention Center Feb. 9-12. The annual event brings many of the biggest regional names in the boating industry to one place, offering deals for boat enthusiasts. For water-based businesses, it's also the launch of their season.

"We use this boat show to kick off our season each year and give customers and potential customers an opportunity to view new products and answer any questions they may have about their water-dependent structures," said Perry Johnston, owner of Dock Masters.

The 2012 show features 98 dealers and exhibitors, including locals like Dock Masters, Boat Sales of Lake Wylie and Lake Wylie Marina from Lake Wylie, Long Cove Marina from Steele Creek, Zeko Shoes from Clover, Southtown Watersports and Waterjack Boat Lifts from Fort Mill, Tega Cay Marina from Tega Cay and Commodore Yacht Club from Rock Hill. Also included are service organizations like Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Charlotte Power Squadron and Lake Wylie Marine Commission.

"We'll have some good deals on Veranda pontoons, Yamaha outboards, EZ Loader trailers," said Vic Winebarger, general manager at Boat Sales of Lake Wylie.

Customers will see special financing deals, manufacturer discounts and rebates at the show Winebarger said. They'll also be able to save considerable time and gas money compared to shopping around for deals on boats.

"If you're looking to buy a boat, you can go to one building and shop everybody that's anybody in this area," Winebarger said.

Johnston has deals including a Hi-Tide free remote control system ($530 value) for any boat lift or personal watercraft sold, or a 5 percent discount on any Touchless Boat Covers order within two weeks of the show. A sometimes undervalued part of the show, industry leaders say, is the expertise that accompanies the businesses.

Johnston, for instance, will display American made solid core cellular PVC Gossen Weather Ready decking but also explain how it prevents cracking, cupping and warping. He'll have boat lifts and single and double personal watercraft lifts, and can explain how they'll eliminate problems like muskrats, snakes and servicing along with options such as swim platforms for children.

Duran Coley operates three marinas on Lake Wylie - Tega Cay and Lake Club, along with Commodore. He's been involved in about 15 shows. For Tega Cay Marina, a single show can be a business boost for years to come.

"What we promote is our boat slips," Coley said. "People looking for a boat want to have a place to put it."

At renewal time April 1, there always is some turnover and more opportunity for slips, Coley said. The boat show is a great time to plan for that change. It's also a great way to promote pontoon rentals at Tega Cay.

"We always give away a full day rental (at the show)," Coley said.


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