Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

MDCE 2013 VIDEO: Industry leaders buoyed by boat sales increase

From left, Rick Correll, Bob Menne, Mark Schwabero, Ron Huibers and Bill McGill.

From left, Rick Correll, Bob Menne, Mark Schwabero, Ron Huibers and Bill McGill.

The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo's annual Industry Leaders Panel of five company presidents responded to wide-ranging questions that touched on market trends, product cost, technology, marketing, government regulations and growing boating.

The discussion at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., on Monday featured Rick Correll of Tige Boats, Ron Huibers of Volvo Penta Americas, Bill McGill of MarineMax, Bob Menne of Premier Marine and Mark Schwabero of Mercury Marine.

All agreed that sluggish spring sales have given way to solid second-half numbers and they remain optimistic about the trajectory of the industry's recovery.

"It's not a steep curve by any means," McGill said. "It's a slow recovery, but the good news is that it’s a steady climb."

Correll said his ski boat sales were "up close to 25 percent over what our projections were."

The issue of rising costs has proved a double-edged sword for the panel with the majority saying their customers have demonstrated that they want plenty of bells and whistles on their boats.

McGill sees "getting some of the cost out of the product" with smaller engines and simplified accessories as one of the industry's biggest challenges.

"To get into boating is not $10,000 to $15,000, it’s now $30,000 to $40,000,” he said. “The higher the price, the less customers you've got."

Correll, however, said sales of his "de-contented, price-point" ski boats are down, but sales of higher-end models are up.

"The days when I see ski boats going for $25,000 are long gone," he said. “Our customers demand that our boats have touch screens and top-line stereo systems."

At the opposite end of the market, Menne said growth at pontoon builder Premier also is coming at the middle and upper range of the line, driven largely by demand for more horsepower and accessories.

"If someone told me four years ago we'd be selling pontoon boats for over $100,000, I'd think they were smoking weed, but we’re there," Menne said, drawing laughter from the audience.

"We can't change the fact that consumers want more horsepower," Schwabero said, but he suggested that savings can be found in more intuitive design, easier maintenance and, of course, fuel economy.

Beyond horsepower, the issue of a preferred propulsion system — outboard vs. sterndrive — drew a lively debate.

Huibers said the rapid rise in 4-stroke technology, initially in emissions and efficiency and more recently in reduced weight, has outpaced sterndrive technology.

"Emissions have to catch up," he said of sterndrive technology. "But from everything we see, I/O technology is going to be around for years to come.”

The other engine manufacturer on the panel agreed.

"Let's face it. The outboards of today are a lot different from those in the past," Schwabero said, noting the rise of 4-stroke technology and, more recently, the emergence of joystick control for outboards. "But we don't think there's a wholesale shift going on."

Related

Suntex Adds Superyacht Facility

The investment group adds Seahaven Marina, which can accommodate vessels up to 250 feet.

Newsweek Honors Brunswick Corp.

It’s the second consecutive year that the magazine named the corporation to its list of America’s Most Responsible Companies.

Southern Marinas Adds to its Portfolio

The company announced its acquisition of Tims Ford Marina and Resort in Winchester, Tenn., its seventh transaction this year.

Groupe Beneteau Acquires Portugal Facility

The builder adds the Rodman Lusitania shipyard to support demand for powerboats under 40 feet.

Digital Dealership Dashboard for Marine Dealers

The Parker Business Planning digital platform for marine dealers will be introduced next week at MRAA Dealer Week in Austin, Texas.

Back and Forth and Back Again

As the world waits for the pandemic and its economic effects to subside, a new virus variant emerges.

Suzuki Crew Cleans Florida Shoreline

Executives, staff and families removed more than 40 bags of trash from Florida’s Courtney Campbell Causeway as part of the company’s Clean Ocean Project.

Seattle Boat Show: Full Speed Ahead

The largest show in the Pacific Northwest is set for its 9-day run with a new location and robust seminar format for 2022.