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For the Record: BRP marks milestone at 75,000 units - Trade Only Today

For the Record: BRP marks milestone at 75,000 units

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Bombardier Recreational Products hit the 75,000-unit milestone at its sportboat manufacturing facility in Benton, Ill., as a 21-foot 2010 Sea-Doo 210 Challenger SE jetboat rolled off the line Feb. 11.

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There are currently 362 people who work in the facility, which has been in operation since 1996. The 398,264-square-foot building was recently upgraded with energy-efficient lighting systems and has a host of lean manufacturing tools.

"Despite our investments made in Benton and across all BRP sites, a company is only as good as its employees," says Alain Villemure, vice president and general manager of vehicle development and manufacturing operations, in a statement. "Our people are empowered through a teamwork management approach that allows for continuous improvement generated at the plant floor level."

Four Winns gets tax credit worth millions

Michigan officials awarded Four Winns a state tax credit valued at $27.1 million over eight years. The funds are meant to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over competing sites in Minnesota and Tennessee. The city of Cadillac is considering an abatement in support of the project, state officials say in a statement.

"The manufacturer of recreational fiberglass boats has defined a project to invest up to $63 million over the next eight years, an average of $7.9 million per year, to expand in Cadillac to support increased production of Four Winns, Wellcraft and Glastron boat brands currently produced in Cadillac and Little Falls, Minn.," Michigan officials say in a statement.

"Assuming a return to peak manufacturing levels, the project has the potential to create 5,255 total jobs, including up to 2,320 directly by the company, between now and 2018," the release states. "[Michigan Economic Development Services] estimates the increased economic activity created by the project could create an additional 2,935 indirect jobs."

Four Winns was one of 10 companies to receive such incentives.

Sailboat builder buys Legacy Yachts

Tartan/C&C Yachts announced it acquired Legacy Yachts of Middletown, R.I. All Legacy manufacturing and business operations are being relocated to Tartan/C&C's Ohio location.

The acquisition was completed in early January, sales manager Andrew Drumm says. "We have been working on this acquisition for quite some time," he says. "I'm glad that it has finally come to fruition."

Drumm says the company was in the process of working out the logistics of the move but planned to move the tooling this spring. In terms of jobs, Drumm says production at Legacy had slowed or stopped "some time ago," so many positions were lost prior to the acquisition.

"Our goal is simple: manufacture high-quality boats and increase jobs in Northeast Ohio," he says. "We have and will continue to search for highly motivated, skilled workers, and this is not limited to just our region."

Drumm says terms of the deal were not made public.

- Beth Rosenberg

Sea Ray broadens alliance with retailer Costco

Sea Ray Boats is expanding its strategic alliance with the Costco Auto Program in key U.S. metropolitan areas. The agreement gives Costco members in certain areas special pricing on select Sea Ray Sport Boat and Sport Cruiser models, plus up to $3,000 in rebates.

"We are very pleased with the program results thus far, especially taking into account that nearly 70 percent of the buyers are new entrants into the sport," says Mike Burke, vice president of sales and marketing for Sea Ray, in a statement.

The expanded program will be offered throughout the United States and Puerto Rico (excluding Alaska).

MRA sets Nov. 2-4 dates for annual conference

The Marina Recreational Association Educational Conference and Trade Show will be held Nov. 2-4 in Las Vegas at the Rio Casino and Report.

"We encourage all marina operators and marine trade exhibitors to meet us in Las Vegas. The issues have national importance. What happens in California, doesn't just stay in California," MRA president Jim Hayes says in a statement.

The MRA is offering special programs for new members. The first 18 new marina members to join will get a free ticket to the conference if they have never attended. Also, the association is planning to enlarge the amount of booth space for the trade show portion of the event.

For additional information, contact Mariann Timms at (209) 334-0661 or e-mail questions to timms@marina.org.

Health of sailing industry addressed in Miami

The Sailing Company presented its annual State of the Sailing Industry report during the Miami International Boat Show, and it was peppered with such phrases as "survival mode" and "Darwinian gale," along with a sense that things are slowly starting to improve.

Rick Walter, of MarketResearch Associates, delivered a sober assessment of the sailing industry but one that promised "brighter skies" in 2010. "The recovery consumer is rethinking risk, value and consequence," he says, "and marketers will have to work hard to redirect decision-making that is perceived as responsible."

Production was down 20 percent between September 2008 and August 2009, and the work force was down 29 percent. Cruiser production was down 55 percent, and multihulls were down 36 percent. The estimated overall value of North American sailboats was down 58 percent to $258 million. A 12 percent increase is forecast for 2010.

Exports among all "developing nations" were down 46 percent, to 1,154 units, while imports were down 33 percent - or 118 units - to 240 units. A 16 percent drop in imports was forecast.

The decline was across the board by size, ranging from 31 percent (46 feet and larger) to 37 percent (20 to 35 feet). Multihulls held their own, declining only one unit to 113. This year's forecast is for an overall increase of 95 units.

"Delivering bad news is tough," says The Sailing Company's group publisher Sally Helme. "But we are all here, and we survived because we are the best and brightest. Get ready for a recovery."

- Rich Armstrong

Yacht broker buys Maryland marina

Shady Oaks Marina in West River, Md., was recently purchased by John Martini, who had worked there when his father owned it more than 25 years ago. Shady Oaks, which had been owned and operated by Tom Frank in recent years, is a 60-slip marina in a protected cove off the West River. It caters to 30- to 60-foot powerboats, offering covered and open slips, haulout and full service support.

Martini, who has been a yacht broker for 20 years, launched his own brokerage, Martini Yacht Sales, in 2006 and has purchased the marina to complement his business. "Walking the Shady Oaks docks gives me a great deal of pride but also brings with it a lot of challenges. I have a lot of plans to update the facilities and enhance amenities," Martini says in a statement. "We're going to return the marina to what Tom Frank had created in its heyday - one of the finest places on the bay to buy or berth a boat."

Larger crowds come out for Trawler Fest

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PassageMaker magazine reports an increase in attendance at Trawler Fest Fort Lauderdale, its first event of 2010.

"Abundant sunshine, the latest cruising designs moored to modern floating docks of the Bahia Mar Resort Marina, and a host of new-technology products on display in the massive on-land tent helped make the inaugural Trawler Fest Fort Lauderdale a well-rounded experience for attendees," PassageMaker editor in chief John Wooldridge says in a statement.

Organizers say 2,400 people attended the three-day event, held Jan. 19-21 at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort and Yachting Center, which was a 62 percent increase from the previous year. There were more than 90 exhibitors.

Pro-Line announces new models, floorplanning

Pro-Line Boats announced that the company is making wide-ranging adjustments, including new retail strategies, additional floorplan financing sources for dealers, and new models.

"We've substantially reduced field inventory at the dealer and factory levels, and over the past few months our production of retail sold boats has continued to increase," says John Walker, senior vice president and chief operations manager for American Marine Holdings, the parent company of Pro-Line Boats and Donzi Marine, in a statement. "The climate for new business is showing signs of improvement, and we're adapting our methods to increase sales in this changing marketplace."

Walker says events that allowed customers to experience Pro-Line Boats firsthand provided better results than traditional boat shows.

American Marine Holdings has secured a private floorplan source and recently announced that floorplan financing will be available to Pro-Line and Donzi preferred dealer partners.

"By offering our dealers a floorplan option so they may finance boats for stock, we're helping them to remain viable business entities, as it has been proven that customers are far less likely to purchase from so-called catalog dealers," Walker says.

On the product-development front, Pro-Line is focusing on both ends of its model lineup.

The company is expanding its popular Pro-Lite line of affordable family fishing boats with new 21- and 23-foot center consoles. Both models are currently in production, with deliveries scheduled for early March.

Pro-Line is also taking aim at the offshore tournament center console market with a new 35-foot Super Sport. This will be the first Pro-Line to feature a stepped hull and will be available this spring.

Online brokerage offers finance service

YachtWorld.com recently launched the YachtWorld Finance Center, its new marine finance service for yacht brokers.

"YachtWorld.com's goal is to provide yacht brokers with services that will enable them to sell more boats," says Jeff Moore, director of sales for YachtWorld.com and Boats.com, in a statement. "The YachtWorld Finance Center's mission is to stay on top of today's finance market and make sure it has the resources and knowledge to provide the finance programs our broker members and their clients want."

YachtWorld.com has partnered with the Financial Underwriters Network to provide this new service.

YachtWorld.com and Soundings Trade Only are divisions of Dominion Enterprises.

ABYC launches online purchasing directory

The American Boat and Yacht Council Foundation launched a standards-based online Marine Industries Global Purchasing Directory.

"This new service may well revolutionize the method by which customers research, locate and possibly even procure self-certified, standards-based products and services," says Skip Burdon, the foundation's secretary and president, in a statement. "For the first time marine businesses that build, maintain or repair boats, or provide standards-based services, have a one-stop tool from which to reach local, national, as well as global customers at no or very low cost."

Manufacturers, retailers and/or service providers appearing in the directory must self-certify that their products and/or services meet one or more of the following qualifying criteria:

  • applicable ABYC standards
  • product is on the NMMA type accepted list
  • product is certified/approved by a classification society
  • product is CE compliant
  • product is on the NMMA listed component list

In order to meet the "applicable ABYC standards" criteria, business entities must be current ABYC members. Users of the service must acknowledge that self-certification does not in and of itself guarantee compliance to ABYC standards or any of the criteria for appearing in the directory.

College program gets help from Joe Charles

Industry leader Joe Charles, president of Charles Industries, is issuing a challenge to the South Florida marine industry and recreational boaters: He will match every dollar donated to the Broward College Marine Technology Center of Excellence capital program, up to $25,000.

After touring the marine center facility, meeting instructors and students, and learning about the curriculum, Charles was compelled to chair the marine center's capital program. In 2009, he personally contributed $50,000 and raised more than $500,000 in equipment and capital donations from the industry.

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"By investing in Broward College's Marine Technology Center of Excellence, you are purchasing an insurance policy that assures future skilled technicians capable of professionally repairing and maintaining your vessel," Charles says in a statement. "I was surprised to learn that a program like the one offered at Broward College was not already well-established in an area like South Florida. The college has the distinction of being the first in Florida to offer a two-year accredited degree in marine engineering and seamanship."

Broward College's Marine Technology Center, chosen by the American Boat and Yacht Council as one of seven national ABYC marine league schools, is the only school in the region offering ABYC certification. It graduated its first class in 2009. The program is designed to provide boat and yacht manufacturers, dealers and boatyards with well-educated and skilled marine technicians.

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue.

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