March 2011 Newsletter


Casting Off

By Gary A. White, President, P’Chelle International

Nine Days That Changed An Industry

[caption id="attachment_104" align="alignright" width="267"]Entrance_to_Messe_Dusseldorf ENTRANCE TO MESSE DÜSSELDORF, THE HOME OF BOOT DÜSSELDORF 2011[/caption]

Maybe the title of this article is a slight exaggeration, maybe not. Time will tell. If the nine days the Snake River Boat Builders invested in exhibiting at the 42nd boot Düsseldorf, January 22 – 30, 2011 doesn’t change the industry it will definitely have an impact. Six welded-aluminum jet boat manufacturers from Lewiston and Orofino, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington, packed their product literature, dvds and laptops and presented some of the most exciting boats the European market had ever seen.

Participating manufacturers were Bentz Boats, Custom Weld Boats, Phantom MIL/PRO, Riddle Marine, SJX Jet Boats and Thunder Jet Boats. Long by U.S. standards, the nine day show provided an eclectic mix of exhibitors, importers, agents and consumers from throughout Europe. The show is advertised as the “world’s biggest watersports show” and I believe it. It encompassed 17 exhibition halls with 1,550 exhibitors and approximately 240,000 attendees from over 50 countries. An estimated 1,700 boat models were displayed from the most beautiful and expensive yachts to kayaks and canoes that you could fold up and put in your pocket (assuming you have a very large pocket).

[caption id="attachment_275" align="alignleft" width="305"] SNAKE RIVER BOAT BUILDERS IN ACTION[/caption]

Anything and everything that had anything to do with water was exhibited; power boats; sailing boats; diving, surfing, angling products; boat equipment, marinas and water based excursions. Fifteen “theme worlds” were offered, a Disney Land for mariners, if you will, from Beach World to World of Paddling to Blue Holiday World (sailing and motor yachting) to Diving World. It was good to see old friends again: Martin Porath, Silver Boote; Tomai Gomersbach, Pontoon Boot and Hilmar Hoenes, On-Water Sports, boat buyers who had participated in the in-bound trade mission to Lewiston/Clarkston in October, 2010. It was equally good to make new friends among the many European boat industry professionals.

The Hotel Excelsior was an excellent example of German hospitality while the Rhine-Ruhr Local Transport Network and Messe Düsseldorf (the sight of boot Düsseldorf) were excellent examples of German efficiency. Participation in the show provided outstanding “hands-on” training for the boat manufacturers. Not only did they interact with potential buyers, but also had the opportunity to see new designs and technologies that could be incorporated into their own products and develop a global perspective of their industry.

[caption id="attachment_276" align="alignright" width="264"] SNAKE RIVER BOAT BUILDERS IN ACTION[/caption]

An interesting dynamic was the cooperation amongst the boat manufacturers, each a competitor at some level, working together to develop an industrial cluster that in the long run will benefit all of them. The Snake River Boat Builders brand was firmly planted in the hearts and minds of the European market. Based on conversations after the show, I am certain sales will result. Based on conversations during the show I am just as certain that boot Düsseldorf 2012 will witness a bigger and even more dynamic presence from the Snake River Boat Builders.

Time will tell whether exhibiting at boot Düsseldorf 2011 will change an industry, but I do believe it has already changed a number of welded-aluminum jet boat manufacturers from Idaho and Washington.



By Janet Bauermeister, Director, U.S. Commercial Service, Spokane, WA

The U.S. Commercial Service, a trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, is dedicated to helping U.S. companies increase sales to new global markets. In nearly 80 countries, with trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities, our services include:

  • Market Intelligence to help U.S. exporters target the right market(s) for their products and services.
  • Trade Counseling to provide them with the information they need to navigate the export process
  • Business Matchmaking services to connect them with the right partners and prospects
  • Trade Advocacy for U.S. companies to level the international playing field for international procurement

A Real World Example


The Snake River Boat Builders Export Program is an excellent example of a manufacturing cluster leveraging the resources of the U.S. Commercial Service to generate export sales in a chosen foreign market. Beginning in the Spring of 2010 I researched our extensive data bases to determine the best potential foreign markets for welded-aluminum jet boats. As a whole, the European Union quickly rose to the top. That determined, I emailed a “letter of inquiry” to determine which European based U.S. Commercial Service Trade Specialists would be interested in participating in the program. Many offices replied positively but the most interesting response came from Paul Warren-Smith in our Frankfurt, Germany office. One of Paul’s special industries is boats and our program fit in perfectly with a program he was developing. By June, Paul had recruited Klaus Schneiders, Chief Editor, Skipper Boote Und Yachting, one of the leading European trade magazines covering the boating industry, for a visit to Lewiston/Clarkston to visit the participating boat builders and provide some initial “how to sell boats in Europe” training.

They were both “blown away” by the quality of the boats and boat builders. Upon their return to Germany, Paul and Klaus went to work recruiting European buyers for an in-bound trade mission. In fact, Klaus wrote an amazing 8 page article about the Snake River Boat Builders for the August, 2010 issue of Skipper magazine. Talk about leverage! In October, 2010 Lewiston/Clarkston participated in its first ever European boat buyers trade mission with a visit by qualified importers. Deals are being negotiated as I write this article.

The grand finale of the inaugural year of the program was the Snake River Boats pavilion at boot Düsseldorf 2011 (Düsseldorf, Germany). Paul Warren-Smith and Klaus Jonas, U.S. Commercial Service, Düsseldorf met us at the airport, delivered us to the hotel, helped set-up our booth, arranged appointments with potential buyers and even provided an interpreter. During the nine days of the show we had visits from Hannah Kamenetsky, U.S. Commercial Service, Frankfurt and Karel Vantomme, Commercial Advisor and boat specialist, Brussels, Belgium. They were all excited about the program and asked “how can we help?”. No problem there. I am already working with them and other commercial officers as we gear up for the next phase of the program, with increased European exposure and sales for 2011/2012.

Even though your business may be small by some standards, it can be big internationally by leveraging the resources of the U.S. Commercial Service. For more information please contact me at 509-353-2625 or