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For the Record: Brunswick offers to make loan payments for jobless - Trade Only Today

For the Record: Brunswick offers to make loan payments for jobless

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Shortly after an initial announcement that Brunswick would make the monthly boat payments for buyers of three of its brands, the company expanded the promotional program to a total of 12 lines.

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The program, first announced in May, makes monthly boat payments for up to nine months for those buyers who lose their jobs. Consumers must take delivery of their boats before July 6.

The brands are Bayliner, Maxum, Trophy, Cypress Cay and Palmetto Pontoon, Harris FloteBote, Kayot, as well as select models of the Crestliner, Lowe, Lund, Princecraft and Triton aluminum boat lines.

The qualifying monthly payments are up to $500 for Bayliner, Maxum and Trophy brands, and up to $250 a month for the other brands.

"In today's economy, it is important to alleviate consumer concerns over many issues, including the potential of job loss," Brunswick chairman and CEO Dustan McCoy said in a statement. "So we're addressing it in an effective and impactful manner within the marine community."

Similar promotions have been offered recently in the auto industry by Hyundai, Ford and General Motors.

Bonnier purchases Boating magazine

Bonnier Corp. and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. announced June 2 that Bonnier acquired five magazine titles from HFM U.S.: Boating, Popular Photography, Flying, Sound & Vision and American Photo.

The five titles bring to nearly 50 Bonnier's collection of enthusiast brands, including marine publications Motor Boating and Yachting.

"Boating is the world's largest powerboat magazine and for more than 50 years has done an outstanding job in delivering the most boat tests and solid editorial content on how to maintain and understand your boat," said Glenn Hughes, group publisher of Bonnier's Marine Group, in a statement. John McEver was named publisher and Randy Vance editor in chief.

After 50 years, Bertram is planning to relocate

Miami-based Bertram Yacht is looking to move from its current production facility located along the Miami River.

"Bertram is determining more suitable options for a state-of-the-art facility to accommodate the larger sportfishing boats that are being built today and remain on the cutting edge of the ever-evolving boating industry," the company said in a statement.

Bertram has been in its current location for nearly 50 years.

"We are driven by the passion that our customers and employees have for Bertram yachts and the experiences that it represents to them personally. So we are directly responding to our customers' requests to build larger sportfishing vessels," said Mike Myers, president and COO of Bertram Yacht, in a statement.

Bertram Yacht is a brand of Ferretti SpA, a leading luxury motoryacht manufacturer.

Yamaha turns to Web to reduce dealer costs

Yamaha Marine University will begin using electronic media to deliver business management training to its nearly 2,100 dealers, in an effort to reduce costs to dealers.

Starting this March, YMU planned to deliver a series of seminars via WebEx, a Web-based meeting service that allows YMU instructors to communicate with students using voice and visual presentation, such as PowerPoint slides. In addition, YMU will also employ a series of instructional teleseminars for dealers.

Yamaha Marine University will host several additional webinars and teleseminars through May, covering a variety of dealership management topics.

There will be no cost to the dealer for participating in the YMU webinars and teleseminars, and Yamaha will soon post a schedule of available business management education topics on YMBS.

Registration will be available on www.yamahauniv.com. In addition, registration will be available by phone through YMU registrar Jennifer Christ at (866) 644-4968.

Marina and boatyard satisfaction detailed

Survey Advantage, a customer research and loyalty firm, recently released its 2008 benchmarks for marinas and boatyards, and it contained good news.

This report was designed in cooperation with the Association of Marina Industries and the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association. The report tracks four key areas: facility quality, marine service quality, customer service and boater loyalty.

In measuring a boater's likelihood to recommend his or her marine service provider, the survey found 51 percent promote and refer their provider, 29 percent are passive supporters or not emotionally charged about their provider, and 20 percent are at high risk of leaving their provider and spreading negative word of mouth about their experiences.

While operations continue to receive high ratings on courtesy, the industry continues to struggle on communication or keeping boaters abreast of service being performed. While the slip areas receive high marks, it was surprising that the industry can't do a better job keeping restrooms and shower areas cleaner and continuously stocked, the survey found.

The highest marks were in the marina area and ships stores, with gas docks and service desks receiving the lower scores, according to Survey Advantage.

Nine service quality areas were benchmarked, including engine repair and rigging services. The highest ratings came in the hauling and launching areas, while sailboat rigging and electronics repairs received the lowest marks, the survey shows.

For information, or to receive a copy of the overall report, contact Survey Advantage at info@surveyadvantage.com or call (401) 560-0311.

Boatbuilders continue adapting to downturn

Brunswick Corp. announced it will close its Sea Ray plant in Knoxville, Tenn., for three months because of continuing weak demand in boat sales.

Sea Ray informed its employees that the plant will observe a production furlough from July 6 through Oct. 1, with production scheduled to resume Oct. 5, according to Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera. This is an addition to previously announced furloughs and affects only the Knoxville plant.

As with previous furloughs, this action primarily will affect the plant's 240 hourly employees. Salaried employees will remain on the job to provide ongoing support for dealers and customers. However, Sea Ray's salaried employees will also observe two weeks of furlough time during this period, which was announced earlier this year.

Kubera said this most recent action is part of Brunswick's continuing efforts to deal with a difficult and uncertain marine marketplace.

New Bern, N.C.-based Hatteras Yachts - another Brunswick builder - is planning a furlough that will begin July 1 and run through mid-August, the company announced in early June.

"Hatteras traditionally takes downtime in July," Kubera told Soundings Trade Only. "Employees were told earlier this year that the time would likely be extended, due to anticipated market conditions."

This action affects hourly and salaried employees. However, most salaried employees will remain on the job to provide the Hatteras dealer base and customers with ongoing support, Kubera says.

Crownline Boats did not resume full production at its West Frankfort, Ill., facility June 1, as it had previously planned.

"Currently active personnel will continue to serve our dealers and customers; however, production will be deferred pending resolution of Crownline's previously announced initiative to secure investment capital," the company said in a statement.

Crownline shut down production in December and had originally planned to reopen in March. In March, the company announced it was again pushing back its reopening until June.

In receivership, Aussie builder has a suitor

Australian boatbuilder Mustang Marine has offered to buy fellow Aussie manufacturer Riviera, according to a report in Gold Coast Publications.

Riviera, Australia's largest luxury boatbuilder, is in voluntary receivership.

The receivers and managers are looking to preserve the long-term viability of the company, restructure the business and sell it as a going concern, Riviera said in a statement.

"The purpose of the receivership is to continue trading and to restructure the business in order to survive the current economic climate, while continuing to provide a high-quality Australian product," the company said in a statement.

"This process may take some time," Deloitte, the company appointed as receivers and managers of the company, said in a statement. "Our key focus is to ensure the continued trading and preservation of employee jobs, as well as to derive and implement a restructuring plan. This will allow us to continue to care for the needs of the strong customer base."

Riviera builds open and enclosed flybridge boats, offshore express models and sport yachts from 33 to 70 feet.

Shortly after the announcement, Riviera laid off about 150 employees at its Coomera-based manufacturing plant, according to Gold Coast Publications. The company has reportedly laid off about 400 people since last August.

NMMA report says boat registrations up slightly

Boat registrations increased 1 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year, according to a report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

A total of 13 million vessels were registered and/or documented in the U.S. in 2007, compared to 12.9 million in 2006, NMMA said in its 2007 U.S. Recreational Boat Registrations Statistics report.

Florida topped state rankings for registered boats, with nearly 992,000 vessels recorded in 2007. The rest of the top 10 were California, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, New York, South Carolina, Ohio and Illinois.

On a regional basis, Great Lakes states had the most registered vessels in 2007, while the inland and south Atlantic regions ranked second and third, respectively. All regions except the north Atlantic posted increases in boat registrations in 2007.

Electronic copies of the study are available free to NMMA members. The price for non-members is $300.

Contact NMMA fulfillment coordinator Chris Keil at orderdesk@nmma.org or (312) 946-6209.

Brunswick, GE enter asset-based loan facility

Brunswick Corp. and GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corp. have entered into an asset-based loan facility, secured by the domestic accounts receivable of Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick.

The asset-based loan facility replaces Brunswick's existing accounts receivable sales program, pursuant to which Brunswick had sold the domestic Mercury Marine receivables to Brunswick Acceptance Co.

Brunswick Acceptance Co. is a joint venture between Brunswick Financial Services Corp. and CDF Ventures, a subsidiary of GE Capital Corp.

The asset-based loan facility totals $100 million and includes provisions to increase the size to $120 million. On May 29, the amount outstanding on the asset-based loan facility was $81 million.

Acquisition creates stabilizer mega-company

Naiad Maritime Group Inc. recently acquired VT Motion Control Group from VT Group Plc. The acquisition includes marine system brands Naiad Marine Systems, Maritime Dynamics, Vosper Motion Control and Vosper Stabilizers. These businesses collectively constitute one of the world's largest suppliers of roll stabilization systems spanning the commercial ship, luxury yacht and military sectors.

With the recent acquisition, the fully integrated business will trade globally under the unified Naiad Dynamics brand. It will continue to serve each of these marine sectors and plans to expand.

Naiad Maritime Group comprises Naiad Dynamics US Inc., Naiad Dynamics UK Ltd., and Naiad Dynamics Holland BV. It has operations in Connecticut, Maryland, Florida, Washington, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Australia.

Mass. marinas join seasonal visitor program

The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association is praising local marinas for their agreement to participate in the "Stay Local Boat MA" transient referral program.

Recently announced by Newburyport Marinas, this reciprocal program encourages seasonal guests to visit participating destination marinas in exchange for reduced transient dockage rates determined by the number of boats traveling together.

"The concept is so simple yet completely original at a time when small businesses of every kind are focused inward to survive," said Kurt Saunders, MMTA president and president of Saunders Boat Livery in Southwick.

The program has grown to more than a dozen participating facilities on the North and South shores, Boston Harbor and Cape Cod.

Caterpillar reports increase in sales

Sales of Caterpillar's marine engines were up 48 percent in April compared to April 2008, the company said in a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Also, the company reported sales were up 12 percent in March and 19 percent in February, compared to those months in 2008.

No specific unit numbers were given in the report.

Total engine sales, however, were down in March and April by 2 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Caterpillar reported a 1 percent increase in overall engine sales for February.

This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue.

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