Concerned Okanagan citizens are speaking out about the imposed tariffs between the United States and Canada, worried that many of their smaller local dealers will go under because of the added costs of imported goods related to the marine industry. Darell Wiley, Vice President of Operations and General Manager at Dockside Marine Centre in West Kelowna, British Columbia, explains that many dealers pay an added inventory cost on vessels brought in from the U.S. He continues, “we have to reduce the number of boats that we have ordered for 2019, because we’re deeply concerned about how many we will sell with an added price tag on them.”
Wiley goes on to say that Canadian boat manufacturers and dealers are in short supply, which makes replacing their U.S. inventory difficult. “I think most dealers will have to absorb the costs [of the new tariff],” and “smaller retailers are giving up,” many of which aren’t pursuing new boat sales anymore, he said.
However, according to Wiley, there are other factors besides the tariffs that play into diminishing marine businesses, such as pipeline disputes between B.C. and Alberta, the Albertan economy, B.C.’s new speculation tax, and smoke from wildfires. He said there are “some headwinds and as a consequence, most of the industry has been lagging in sales.”
On the bright side, a select few businesses are using these tariffs as a business opportunity for their local companies. It gives them “an excellent opportunity to promote a Canadian-built product,” explains Brian Milligan, director of sales and marketing at Campion Marine in Kelowna, B.C. He continues, “When the majority of the market has boats that they’re selling that are American-made, it gives us an opportunity to grab some market-share based on a price differential.”
Milligan said they nearly doubled their sales at a January boat show in Toronto from last year. To him, it’s “great news,” but to others, the tariffs are a lurking offshore storm.