Growth is good, but the world is changing — and the recreational marine industry will need to keep up.
That was the message during Brunswick CEO Mark Schwabero’s keynote speech at the 30th anniversary Metstrade breakfast briefing.
During the speech, delivered in a packed room at RAI Amsterdam this morning, Schwabero emphasized the need for companies to evolve continually to meet changing market opportunities.
Contrary to some opinions, Schwabero is positive about the role new generations will play in the recreational marine industry’s future.
“The suggestion that millennials aren’t boaters doesn’t agree with the data — they still have an affinity for the water,” Schwabero said, according to a statement.
However, he cautioned that the marine industry would need to “fasten its seat belts” and deal with a lot of change, driven by different expectations and technology.
The trends that are emerging in automotive today will be similarly influential in the marine market, Schwabero said.
Marine businesses will need to develop solutions around boat sharing, connectivity and autonomous boats.
Brunswick partnered with peer-to-peer boat rental company Boatbound in 2014, Schwabero pointed out. (Boatbound was purchased by Boatsetter this summer.)
Brunswick is supporting an autonomous project undertaken by MIT's Marine Autonomy Bay that explores fully and semi-autonomous systems, as well as underwater communication, sensing of the marine environment, detection and sensing of man-made objects and other vessels and navigation and localization capabilities that also will apply to recreational applications.
The company has also opened up an innovation laboratory in the University of Illinois Research Park and formed a joint venture with TechNexus, an incubator that curates, works with, develops and funds start-ups at the early stages of development.
“The future ain’t what it used to be,” Schwabero concluded, quoting American baseball catcher Yogi Berra.