Greenville Boat Event To Show How Industry Stayed Afloat In Tough Times

The boating business, which is a major industry in several counties across eastern carolina, took a major hit during the recession. Now, Grady White Boats says its putting on an unprecedented event to show how they stayed afloat. Grady White Boats says Thursday's show at the Greenville Convention Center is the largest the company has ever had.

"We saw literally 50% declines, that makes you question where we're going." said Park Boat Company Owner Austin Smnithwick.

While some boating companies ran aground during the economic downturn in 2008, things have changed. Grady White Boats is presenting 24 of its best and newest styles to dealers, like Austin Smithwick, the owner of Park Boat Company in Washington.

"We're very happy it seems we turned the corner. We're selling a lot of boats and that's a good thing for our business and the local eastern carolina economy cause there's a lot of boat builders in our area," said Smithwick.

National Marine Manufacturers Association reports recreational boating is a $121 billion business nationwide. Grady White boats is a large employer in Pitt County that had to downsize during the recession, but is back to rehiring.

"Today we're at about 200 employees. At our high point at one point before the recession we were at about 350," said Vice President of Marketing Shelley Tubaugh.

The public is invited to the boat show at the Greenville Convention Center 8:00 a.m. - noon Thursday.