GE Capital logoNearly 80% of marine industry participants expect sales to increase between five and ten percent this year, according to survey results released today by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF). That’s up from 54% who expected growth in that range last year, and almost double from the 43% two years ago.

According to a press release, the marine industry also sees improvements in terms of employment and capital expenditures. Eighty-four percent plan to increase the size of their company’s workforce and 78% expect their firm’s capital expenditures to be greater than last year.

“The industry continues to grow by offering innovative products at a variety of price points,” said Bruce Van Wagoner, president of CDF’s marine group. “As the demand for boats increases, dealers and manufacturers want to ensure they are properly staffed and operational to capitalize on this growth, which we are forecasting to be around 5% to 6% in units and 8% to 9% in retail sales in the U.S.”

The marine industry has grown steadily since the dramatic downturn in 2009. Fifty percent of survey respondents expect this recovery to continue for the next two to three years, while another 28% think it will continue for the next three to four years.

“While the overall industry is still smaller than it was prior to the recession, it is financially stronger today than it has ever been,” noted Van Wagoner. “There is plenty of room for further growth, but dealers and manufacturers are committed to growing with sound inventory management and at the pace of the market.”

GE Capital’s survey was conducted at the Industry Leadership Conference, which was held in conjunction with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), at the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show on Feb. 11. The respondents are a variety of marine industry participants, including manufacturers, dealers and suppliers.