For the Record: Model-year introductions are trending to the fall - Trade Only Today

For the Record: Model-year introductions are trending to the fall

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Building on advantages Brunswick Corp. said it reaped last year by moving its model-year introduction back to September, the company announced it will do so again this year, according to a letter to dealers released by Andy Graves, president of the Brunswick Boat Group.

In last year's announcement, Brunswick says it made the changes to allow dealers to continue liquidating inventory in the heart of the selling season and reduce the risk of retail lenders lowering available credit on existing inventory.

"Last spring we announced our intention to move our 2010 model-year conversion out a few months from the traditional changeover period," Graves says in the letter. "Among the advantages, we believe this allowed you to continue to sell your inventory during the retail selling season, reduced the impact of retail lenders lowering available credit on existing inventory and minimized consumer confusion over the introduction of new models during the selling season. I believe these advantages continue to be relevant today as we enter this year's boat selling season."

Meanwhile, J&D Acquisitions announced it is moving 2011 model-year introductions for its Larson, Seaswirl, FinCraft and Triumph brands to September.

"Moving the 2011 model-year introductions to September will allow our dealers to continue to sell and order new 2010 products during the height of the retail selling season without being concerned that 2011 products will interfere with and/or depreciate the value of their 2010 boat inventories," company chairman Irwin Jacobs said in a statement.

Jacobs has long been an advocate of pushing back model-year introductions from the summer to the fall. Larson, Seaswirl, FinCraft and Triumph traditionally have introduced new models on or before July 1.

Hydra-Sports builds first boats with new ownership

Hydra-Sports Boat Co., recently bought by MasterCraft Boat Co. and its partners, announced that it ramped up production and rolled completed 2011 models off the line in early May.

"There is no question this is a big moment for the Hydra-Sports brand," says John Dorton, president and CEO, in a statement. "It was only a few short months ago the future of this remarkable company was in real question."

In addition, the Hydra-Sports team will work to restore the brand to the top of the center console and saltwater category, the company says. The team is now implementing updates to current product while working to make changes to future offerings that are scheduled to be unveiled this fall at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

MCBC Hydra Boats, which purchased Hydra-Sports in the Genmar bankruptcy proceedings for $1 million, is a subsidiary of the same company that owns MasterCraft Boat Co. Both brands are now owned by Wayzata Investment Partners, a Minneapolis-based investment firm.

Dockside magazine mourns its publisher

Scott Leigh, publisher of Dockside magazine, died May 1 at his home in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was 60 years old.

Dockside was launched in the early 1990s as a 32-page newsprint magazine called Boating Digest, published in a corner of a Costa Mesa, Calif., warehouse. The publication grew into a respected full-color magazine covering West Coast boating. Well-known in the region's marine industry, Leigh had plans to expand into Florida.

Leigh was a North Dakota transplant who attended the University of North Dakota, where he was a hockey player. In addition to boating, his interests included skiing, cooking, gardening and golf. He is survived by his two grown daughters, Courtney and Taylor, and by his life partner, Linda Petersen of Gig Harbor, Wash.

NMMA to revamp its CSI program

A new customer and product research program will be made available to members of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The program will offer a revamping of NMMA's Customer Satisfaction Index program with research partner Avala Marketing Group to formulate strategic and tactical plans to assist customers in making better business decisions about marine products and sales channels, according to the NMMA.

The new CSI program will provide for industry prospect (presale) satisfaction measurements and updated real-time dashboard reporting of CSI data. "These solutions strengthen the entire marine industry because it allows the industry to be measured from the consideration to ownership phase," says Steve Pizzolato, Avala president.

MRAA: restore funding for Grow Boating

The Marine Retailers Association of America is asking the Grow Boating board of directors that full funding be restored to the program and the redirection of engine assessment funds be halted.

The Grow Boating/Discover Boating marketing program had exceptional results, the MRAA says. Seventeen percent of the people requesting Discover Boating DVDs purchased a boat, a recent study revealed.

"The program was an initiative targeted to promote the boating lifestyle and to increase participation in boating, and not a short-term sales promotion, as the redirection of funds created," the association said in a statement.

NMBA pushes to broaden lending

A review of marine lending by the National Marine Bankers Association makes a realistic assessment of the recession's impact on the boating and finance markets, but also points out that a large percentage of Americans continues to embrace the lifestyle.

"We are starting to see a slight opening in the availability of consumer credit and want to position marine lending as a primary place for funds to flow," said NMBA president Karen Trostle, of Sterling Acceptance Corp., in a statement.

"This new review is designed for lenders to take to boardrooms to help get recreational boating consumer and inventory loans in their strategic plans," she says. "It can also be shared with community and other bankers to remind them of the opportunity to attract high-quality borrowers and assist local small businesses."

Through the report, "A Fresh Look at Marine Lending," the NMBA plans to deliver the updated information with a goal to set up roundtable discussions bringing together local or regional lenders with marine business representatives to underscore industry needs and how lenders can address and profit from them.

Future uncertain for two boatbuilders

Two Midwest boatbuilders - one known for houseboats, the other for go-fast and ski boats - face uncertainty after financial moves.

Wisconsin-based custom houseboat and yacht builder SkipperLiner Industries shut down operations April 30. The company permanently laid off 55 employees in Wisconsin and eight in Arizona, some of whom had only recently been hired, according to an article in the LaCrosse Tribune newspaper.

"This was an extremely difficult decision," owner Noel Jordan said in the report. "My family has been involved in this enterprise since 1985 and it is a major part of our lives. Many of those employees let go ... have been with the company for 25 years or more. It is tragic that these highly skilled and loyal people will lose their jobs due to this disastrous economy and banking collapse in our industry."

Meanwhile, Missouri-based Challenger Powerboats, which shut down and filed for bankruptcy in April 2008, is for sale. Challenger Powerboats also manufactured Gekko towboats and Sugar Sand jetboats. Following the closure, Gekko founder Mark Overbye regained ownership of Gekko and Challenger.

"This is an excellent opportunity for another builder to expand their line with an excellent collection of timely products that has won great reviews and enjoyed a solid market position," Overbye says. "Challenger spent millions on these boats - there are new master plugs, fresh molds and the technology story is a good one. There's no better way to grow an opportunity than this, and I'll consider all offers."

Overbye can be reached at (952) 445-5445 or mark@77ir.com.

ABYC names officers and board members

The American Boat and Yacht Council announced the election of new officers and a new board of directors during its annual meeting in Annapolis, Md. The new members include chairman of the board Gerry Douglas, vice chairman George Bellwoar, technical chairman Dave Marlow, and treasurer Jack Hornor.

Douglas is vice president and a principal of Catalina Yachts. He most recently held the position of treasurer of ABYC and chair of the Business & Financial Planning Committee.

Bellwoar has served as vice president of sales and marketing for Perko since 1995 and is the immediate past chairman of the board of the NMMA.

Marlow is director of product Integrity for the Brunswick Boat Group and a past chair of the ABYC board of directors. He is a current member of the board's executive committee and nominating committee, as well as chair of the technical board and a PTC member.

Hornor is president of Marine Survey and Design Company, and a longtime surveyor, naval architect and current ABYC board member. He is a member of both the National Association of Marine Surveyors and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors.

Exhaust manufacturer wins patent ruling

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida found that De-  Angelo Marine Exhaust willfully infringed on two of Marine Exhaust Systems Inc.'s U.S. patents and that these patents are valid and enforceable, Marine Exhaust Systems announced.

The court also awarded Marine Exhaust $92,804 in damages and agreed to consider additional losses, as well as possibly tripling the final amount. The court found DeAngelo Marine Exhaust infringed on Marine Exhaust's U.S. patents 5,740,670 and 6,035,633 for water-jacketed exhaust pipes for marine exhaust systems.

DeAngelo Marine Exhaust stated it plans to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is the sole appellate court for reviewing patent infringement decisions. A statement by DeAngelo Marine Exhaust intimated it will seek a reversal of the verdict.

Vicem Yachts holds first VIP rendezvous

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Vicem Yachts held its first VIP rendezvous in April, as a fleet of 12 yachts with 75 guests converged on the Old Bahama Bay Luxury Oceanfront Resort on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas.

Broker Dave Mallach was recognized by the company for his years of service and achievement with a $10,000 donation made in his name to the Bodaire School in Haiti.

"At Vicem, we are not just owners, brokers, service technicians, managers or presidents - we are a family," Vicem CEO Alberto Perrone Da Zara said in a statement. "And this rendezvous was a wonderful way for us to get together as a family and celebrate Vicem's past, present and future."

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MIASF director to step down in July

Frank Herhold is retiring as executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, effective July 1. Herhold has been at the helm of the approximately 800-member recreational marine trade association since 1990 and will assume an emeritus role and serve as a consultant following his retirement.

During his tenure, the MIASF has grown to be nationally recognized as one of the pre-  eminent marine trade organizations, and membership more than doubled. He led the association through a variety of industry challenges, including the luxury tax of the early 1990s, manatee and environmental regulations, longshore insurance reform, and the growth of the MIASF-owned Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, as well as a long list of other accomplishments.

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"[Frank's] commitment to this organization and our industry cannot really be measured, and his willingness to stay involved with major projects, even into retirement, speaks volumes about his passion for the business of boating and for MIASF," says association president John Stephens, who is steering the transition process. A new executive director is expected to be announced June 5 at the association's annual meeting and awards reception.

Small businesses seek online loans

The Marine Retailers Association of America says an increasing number of small businesses are using online loan companies to finance operations and acquisitions.

Overall lending plunged 7.5 percent in 2009 - the largest decline since 1942, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. There are several sites where businesses can seek lenders online. One, RaiseCapital.com, has a network of more than 5,000 investors and lenders who make loans from $10,000 to $2 million. Interest rates are a little higher than typical bank lending rates and range from 8 to 15 percent. A one-time application fee of $99 is charged. Other online sites include OnDeckCapital.com, Business    Finance.com, and LendingClub.com. The MRAA says it does not endorse or support any of these sites.

Financier offers program for factory-direct sellers

As the industry's distribution and sales models continue to evolve, Dealer Financial Services Group is adapting its financing programs. Dealer Financial Services Group, a division of Newcoast Financial Services, says it will make available to manufacturers that sell factory-direct to consumers the same retail finance program offered to its dealers.

The program is in response to the announcement that several manufacturers are setting up factory-direct sales offices in addition to their dealer networks. "We felt that today's climate warranted offering this direct finance program to manufacturers on a regular basis," says Vernon Blanc, director of dealer financial services. "This program will help manufacturers and their dealers more easily reduce non-current inventory levels, as well as enhance their offerings and increase market share."

Alliance promotes navigation safety

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is sponsoring a new alliance of industry companies and organizations that will stress to recreational boaters the importance of up-to-date navigational information. The Alliance for Safe Navigation comprises BoatU.S., Jeppesen, the U.S. Power Squadrons, OceanGrafix and the Sea Tow Foundation for Boating Safety and Education.

"We identified a widespread lack of awareness among boaters regarding the accuracy of their charts, whether electronic or paper," OceanGrafix president David DeGree said in a statement. "The truth is that inaccurate chart information can turn a safe and enjoyable cruise into a dangerous situation."

To view the alliance's white paper on the issue, visit www.jeppesen.com/forms/marine/boat-smart.jsp.

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