IBEX 2020: West Marine 2.0

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West Marine Pro staff held a session during the virtual International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference yesterday, emphasizing the tenures of many of its regional sales managers and teams.

Southeast and international market manager Scott Preston talked about how West Marine Pro, formerly known as Port Supply, has changed over the past few years. “Four or five years ago we decided to make a branding change,” Preston said, referring to the company’s name change. “We continued to expand the business and kept looking for opportunities to grow.”

Parent West Marine also shifted from a publicly traded to a privately held company, Preston noted.

“When you’re a public company, you’re kind of handcuffed in what you can and can’t do because you have to report certain things to the stock market and Securities and Exchange Commission, so you’re driven by different kinds of numbers to make your stock grow,” he said. “Today, we’re not driven by a stock price; we’re driven by becoming a better company. We’re focused on increasing profits, not inventory turns or whatever the analysts happen to be watching at the time.”

Preston said the company has had a complete turnover in senior management since becoming private. “When you have that, you have different philosophies that occur,” he said.

When Ken Seipel took the helm as CEO of West Marine in 2018, the company was in the midst of declining sales and an identity crisis, Soundings Trade Only reported in April.

His predecessor had attempted to transform the company from a marine retailer to one with a broader footprint, covering all aspects of life on the water. Seipel led the company’s charge to get back to the core customer.

“The very specific things that we attacked are, first and foremost, stabilizing our team,” Seipel said. “We had a little turnover in our merchant level and wanted to make sure that we had good merchants in place, which I’m very proud to say we do.”

Check out more IBEX sessions today here

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