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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Recreational Boating Industry

Jan 17, 2024 10:00AM ● By Donna Walker

Innovation Takes Center Stage as U.S. Boat Sales Cool Following Covid-Era Demand Surge

As the U.S. recreational boating industry enters the busy winter boat show selling season this month, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), which represents 85 percent of the country’s recreational boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers, reports new powerboat retail sales are estimated to be down slightly in 2023, approximately 1 percent to 3 percent, to 258,000 units.


For the 2024 calendar year, officials said recreational boating is poised to see new unit sales on par with 2023 levels as the industry continues to navigate interest rates, as well as ongoing shifts in consumer confidence.


Looking ahead, recreational marine manufacturers are focused on continuing to deliver innovative new products and will showcase emerging technologies at dozens of boat shows across the country, ranging from hydrogen-fueled marine engines to boats powered fully by sustainable marine fuels, the officials said.


While most categories of new powerboats saw estimated unit declines in 2023, anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent, the personal watercraft segment saw a significant increase, and is projected to be up between 20 percent to 25 percent as final 2023 sales data are calculated.


Personal watercraft, which are small craft for one to three people, and often a gateway to boating given their entry-level pricing and ease of use, are expected to make up approximately 85,000-90,000 of the 258,000 estimated new units sold at retail in 2023.


Recreational boating remains a significant driver to the U.S. economy due to the estimated 85 million Americans who go boating each year, bringing their friends and family and spending on everything from food and marine accessories to marinas, storage, and insurance.


It drives an economic impact of $230 billion, up 36 percent from 2018, while supporting 36,000 U.S. businesses and 812,000 American jobs, according to NMMA’s 2023 Economic Impact Study on Recreational Boating.

Charlotte-Based Firm Expands Greenville Portfolio With Shopping Center Near Heart of Downtown Greenville

Aston of Charlotte announced its purchase of McBee Station, a mixed-use shopping center located at the corner of Church Street and McBee Avenue just blocks from downtown Greenville’s Main Street.


The purchase from Barings, a global investment manager headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., closed Jan. 8, making Aston one of the largest retail owners in the Greenville metropolitan statistical area (MSA).


In addition to McBee Station, Astons owns McDaniel Village, North Hills Shopping Center, Verdae Village, and Powdersville Plaza.


Officials said Aston plans to manage the more than 79,000-square-foot retail portion of the property. McBee Station features anchor tenants Publix and Staples, along with several local businesses such as Greektown Grille, McBee Nail Lounge, Design on Tap, and more.


Said George S. Dewey IV, president and CEO of Aston, “We are committed to providing a first class shopping environment so that tenants can continue to provide essential business services to the downtown Greenville community.”


Berkeley Capital Advisors, a retail investment brokerage firm, represented Barings in the transaction.


Aston, founded in 1980 by Steele Dewey, provides the full complement of real estate services, including property management, leasing, development, and capital market services.


In the Greenville area, it owns North Hills Shopping Center, Verdae Village, McDaniel Village and Powdersville Plaza.


Berkeley Capital Advisors is a retail investment brokerage firm that deals exclusively in the representation of income-producing real estate.


Since 1997, Berkeley Capital Advisors has closed 2,637 separate transactions with $17.6 billion in total sales volume. BCA consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally for brokers.

Loud Beverage Group, Inc. Acquires Surge Distribution LLC

Loud Beverage Group, Inc. (OTCPK: LBEV), a holding company specializing in the distribution of a diverse range of products, announced its successful acquisition of Surge Distribution Company, LLC, a South Carolina based company.


Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Officials said Surge Distribution is poised to attain $5 million in revenue for 2024, with an ambitious projection to double the figure by 2025.


Operating from a 30,000-square-foot facility in Greer, South Carolina, the company is strategically venturing into high-potential markets including Charlotte, North Carolina, Central Florida, Tampa, FL, and Jacksonville, Florida, in 2024 and 2025, the officials said. 


They said this marks a historic juncture for Loud Beverage Group, signifying a new chapter in corporate leadership and strategic vision.


Effective Oct. 26, 2023, the approval of a change of control provides a comprehensive span of voting control across the executive team, the officials said.


Brandon Spikes assumed the roles of chief executive officer and chairman of the company. Simultaneously, Chris Sellinger took on the role of vice president of operations.

Duke Energy Offers Tips to Save Energy And Money As Temperatures Dip

As temperatures dip across the Carolinas this week, Duke Energy is reminding customers of resources, tips and tools to help them manage energy usage and utility bills.


Money-saving tips to combat the cold

Reduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy usage and bills.


One of the easiest things customers can do for heating efficiency is to change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy and can increase costs. Also, have heating systems checked regularly by a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor to maintain efficiency and peak performance.


Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun's rays to warm the house, but close them at night to help insulate your home.


One of best energy-saving habits you can do each year is to check windows, doors and vents for air leaks. Caulking, sealing and weatherstripping leaks can save 10 percent to 20 percent in heating costs.


Replace standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). LEDs are more efficient than regular bulbs, while giving off the same amount of light. Replacing just six of your most frequently used bulbs with LEDs can save up to $480 over the lifetime of the bulbs.


Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction in the winter, which pushes warm air back down into the room. (Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor.) While fans move air and make people more comfortable, they do not provide heat, so remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room.


Manage water heating. Set your water heater to 120 degrees or less. Water heating is typically the second biggest user of energy in your home.


Ways to manage winter heating bills

Duke Energy offers free programs and tools to help customers better manage and understand their monthly energy expenses:


Budget Billing gives customers better control over their energy spending by establishing predictable monthly payments.

Pick Your Due Date allows customers to adjust the date their bill is due.

Interest-free Installment Payment Plans are available for customers who need flexibility with paying a bill.

Usage Alerts notify customers how much energy they are using and how much it costs in time to adjust before the end of a billing cycle.

For customers who qualify, Duke Energy's partnerships with community and state agencies can help them access a range of state, federal assistance and Duke Energy programs, including:

Weatherization Program: Available in some Duke Energy service territories to help income-qualified customers save energy and reduce expenses through energy conservation measures like weatherstripping and HVAC repairs or replacements.

Share the Light Fund: Assists qualifying customers struggling to pay their energy bills. Employees, customers and Duke Energy shareholders contribute to these funds.

Customers can learn about agencies that serve their area by dialing 211, texting "electric" to 211211, or visiting or online. The free service helps connect customers to local community agencies supplying aid for a wide range of needs, including help with energy bills.


Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America's largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity.


Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,600 people.

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