Smooth Sailing: NATM, NMMA's Joint Program Optimizes Boat Trailer Manufacturing

Posted By: Scott Crimmins NATM Member News, Trailer Safety,

The National Association for Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) maintain a joint program to streamline certification for boat trailer manufacturers to receive both NMMA and NATM Certification during a single visit by a NATM Compliance Consultant. By merging the NMMA Certification Program with NATM's Compliance Verification Program, the industry is taking a significant step toward ensuring our roads are safe. In addition to safety, this partnership demonstrates a shared commitment to education in the trailer/boat trailer manufacturing industry and offers time and cost savings for participating boat trailer manufacturers.

“For more than a decade, the NMMA and NATM have partnered to support trailer manufacturers and streamline the NMMA certification process for boat trailers,” said Scott Berry, senior director of engineering standards for NMMA. “Together, we have a shared commitment to safety and education. Collaboration between our two industry organizations ensures the boating consumer receives a highquality, compliant, and, most importantly, (a) safe trailer.” 

“I appreciate the efficiency of certifying for both NMMA and NATM with a single annual inspection by NATM,” added Owen Shelton, President of Boatmate Trailers, LLC, located in Maryville, Tennessee.

In addition to Boatmate, 21 other NATM boat trailer manufacturing members also belonged to NMMA in 2023.

Each association individually operates its compliance program and governs it with slightly different requirements. The most notable difference is that NMMA requires an annual consultation, whereas NATM does it's inspections every two years. In the case of an off year for the NATM consultation, the consultant will still do the yearly NMMA consultation as a stand-alone. With boat trailers submerged underwater more regularly than non-boat trailers, their wiring has to withstand the problems an increased exposure to water can cause over time. NMMA has specific questions about wiring and lighting they require for their certification. NATM has many of the same but will call them recommended best practices versus actual requirements. When setting the GVWR for a trailer, NMMA requires that it "equals (the) weight of (the) trailer plus (the) maximum load carrying capacity." The GAWR rating on the VIN label must also match the GVWR rating under the NMMA requirement. While many NATM Members do the same, others will set their GVWR based on some increased percentage over the tire/wheel/axle rating since no standard method exists specified by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or any other agency for establishing those values.

In terms of similarities, both hold their members accountable to the tire record-keeping requirements set forth by NHTSA for having a reliable means within their records to track the tire identification numbers (TINs) to the corresponding VIN of the trailer the tires installed on. A fiveyear retention of these records is mandatory. The partially completed tire registration cards given to the purchaser also are verified. NATM has been actively educating members on these requirements over the last several years through forums and workshops at the annual NATM Convention & Trade Show as well as with webinars, which lends itself to the shared commitment to education within the industry. What was a problem a couple of years ago with the placement of the VIN label in the correct location (forward half of the left side of the trailer) rarely occurs today and is an excellent example of education in action. 

If you would like to hear more about NMMA and its certification program, please contact Scott Berry at Questions about the NATM program? Contact NATM Technical Director Scott Crimmins or call (785)-272-4433