The Voice of Marine Dealers

A successful generational blend

Phil Keeter Award

Matt Gruhn presenting Phil Keeter with the award renamed after Keeter in honor of his commitment and dedication to marine retailing.

They keynote at this year’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo was by far the most talked about presentation the event has ever had. Not only was it entertaining through its incorporation of humor, but it also hit home because of the clear connection the topic had for the MDCE audience.

The topic was simple: There’s a difference between each one of the four generations in the marketplace today, and we need to be aware of the characteristics of each of those generations as we conduct business. The presentation itself focused on how to sell to each of those generations, but the principles can be applied to how we interact with our employees, our co-workers, our suppliers and those people we interact with in our personal lives.

The MRAA is undergoing a generational shift as I type. Many of you know that I’m the new guy on the block, a Gen Xer who has all of about 50 days under my belt as president of this association. My predecessor in this role, Mr. Phil Keeter, has about 22 years and 11 months on me in this role and his 50-plus years of marine industry experience dwarfs my 15 years.

Both of our vantage points add value to building your MRAA of the future however. I may bring a new outlook on technology and some new ways to operate the association. But the wisdom, built through experience and offered by Mr. Keeter, has proven more valuable to me than I could ever explain. I’ll go to him with an idea, and he’ll offer historical perspectives, thoughts to consider, potential potholes to watch out for, and then he simply suggests that I take that backdrop and run with the decision I’d like to make. What a fabulous mentor he has become for me.

Mr. Keeter and the MRAA board of directors have also created a Young Leaders Advisory Committee, a group of Gen Xers and Millenials that have been given the opportunity to breathe next-generation thinking into a strengthening organization. The board and the YLAC group work together on committees, blending their wisdom, experiences, insights and energies to help build a stronger MRAA.

It’s this type of collaboration that I believe will fuel our growth as an association and strengthen our voice as a dealer community in the days ahead. And that has me energized.


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