Boating industry offers a growing opportunity to custom wrap shops

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported powerboat sales are anticipated to increase six percent in 2017, while the outlook for 2018 puts growth at another five or six percent.

Meanwhile, Boating Industry's forecast survey found 45 percent of respondents working in boat manufacturing said their revenue increased between 10 and 25 percent in 2017, and 46 percent said they expect sales to increase by the same percentage in 2018.

As more people engage in boating, they will also invest in the appearance of their boats. This presents a unique opportunity to shops who specialize in wrapping cars. It could be very lucrative to transfer these skills to the boating world.

Quality materials and tools matter

When wrapping boats, it's critical to use reliable materials and tools. Low-quality vinyl might peel over time, and a poorly performing heat gun could prevent the wrap from properly adhering to the surface. In both cases, the wrap could come off, ruining the custom design and potentially causing damage to the vehicle itself.

A white boat sits on the open water on a sunny day.Boat owners may want to customize their crafts through vinyl wraps.

This is especially important with boats, where water can pull at an inadequately applied wrap job, and the speed at which the vessels travel can cause additional strain on the vinyl. Craig Campbell, marketing coordinator for digital products at Georgia-based vinyl media manufacturer Oracal, cautioned professionals entering the boat wrapping space to steer clear of air egress vinyl, which is designed with channels within the vinyl to prevent air bubbles, according to

"This type of vinyl is good for regular application on vehicle wraps, but if the channels are not sealed off properly on a boat wrap, then water can run through those channels and rip the graphic off," Campbell explained. "I'd recommend a repositionable vinyl for boat wraps because it gives you some flexibility but you can avoid the issue of the water in the channels."

Beyond the vinyl, it's important to choose the right heat gun. Adhering vinyl can be a slow, painstaking process that requires specific temperatures and precise application. Using a heat gun that records the surface temperature and comes equipped with a guiding laser, such as Master Appliance's Proheat 1600 & 1615 STC Heat Guns, can help ensure the vinyl is heated properly and in the right places.

Potential business opportunities abound

Entering the boat wrap scene right now could be a lucrative decision. With an improved economy encouraging consumers to spend more on recreational endeavors like boating, more people will put money into customizing their boats.

Additionally, there will be many long-time boaters investing in new vessels after hurricanes caused extensive destruction in marinas in Florida and neighboring states. BoatUS Public Affairs Vice President Scott Croft noted that residents who lost boats to the storms plan on investing in their next boat soon.

"Everybody said they were going to buy another boat," Croft stated, according to Boating Industry. "There wasn't anybody who said, 'That's it.'"

This could provide ample opportunity for wrappers to customize new purchases by seasoned boaters. As boat dealerships head into their winter boat show season, shops that specialize in boat wraps will be in a unique position to attract boat owners who want to customize their crafts.

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