Japanese diesel engine manufacturer Yanmar purchased Netherlands-based Vetus, a boat equipment systems engineering company with markets in more than 100 countries, in an effort to strengthen its European marine footprint in a stagnating economy.
The terms of the sale were not disclosed, according to Peter Aarsen, vice president of Yanmar Europe. “But from an operational point of view we will keep Vetus as a strong, independent brand within Yanmar Group,” he said. “As Vetus is very strong in the application parts and accessories development and production, it will bring great experience and knowledge into our family.”
The acquisition allows Yanmar to offer “complete packages of technical equipment for the boatbuilding industry,” Aarsen said. Vetus will now be 100 percent owned by Yanmar, but will retain its brand name and all of its current business lines, including engines, and will continue to be developed separately and sold independently.
“Vetus is proud to become a member of the Yanmar group of companies,” Vetus CEO Marcel Borsboom said in a statement. “Together we will create a powerhouse in the industry, from which all our customers and the marine sector in general will benefit. Being two strong, profitable companies, we enter the future with great confidence.”
Both companies hope to capitalize on the extensive sales and service networks each has developed during the combined 150 years they have been in business; Yanmar celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and Vetus will mark its 50th in 2014. Yanmar Europe CEO Geert Jan Mantel said in a statement that he expected the merger to be profitable for both companies. “Together we will be able to further strengthen our presence in the leisure craft market and fill in each other’s gaps. In today’s stagnating economy we both see partnership as one of the best strategic ways to grow.”
Based in Schiedam, Netherlands, Vetus has been involved in pleasure craft and small commercial vessel innovation for nearly half a century, with brands that include Maxwell anchoring systems and Marex custom-made windows. Maxwell’s products will help strengthen Yanmar’s presence in the sail, powerboat and superyachts industry, Yanmar said.
The Yanmar organization, which employs more than 15,000 people globally and has a sales network operating in more than 130 countries, has been building diesel engines since 1912 with a design philosophy geared toward more power and less weight.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Tom Watson, brand manager for Georgia-based Yanmar America. “I really like their product lineup. It complements a lot of things we do as engine manufacturers and that’s why we’re excited about it. Everything made sense for both companies.”
Discover Boating debuts movie ad
Print is back. That was one of many messages delivered by Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating, during a webinar that updated the industry on 2012 efforts and outlined goals for 2013.
“As the DVD technology is starting to wane, we decided to go back to the old-fashioned way and print [Welcome to the Water] pamphlets again,” Blackwell said during the webinar.
There are four versions: one in American English, one in Canadian English, one in Spanish and one in Canadian French, Blackwell said. It was one example he gave of resources designed to broaden boating’s appeal.
One upcoming effort Blackwell highlighted at the April 3 webinar was the migration to the silver screen, which will start this spring with a 30-second spot called “Transformation.”
“From our advertising perspective, our online video is vital in our plan,” Blackwell said after the webinar. “Boating is so visual and, as I said, it really brings our product to life. It captures the magic or fun that sets us apart from other activities. It’s our competitive advantage and we need to emphasize it whenever we can. Our consumer engagement measurements were very strong against advertising industry benchmarks.”
Joe Lewis, chairman of Grow Boating Inc. and owner of Mount Dora Marine in Florida, said after the webinar that visuals are crucial to boating, second only to inviting more people to get out on the water. “People light up when you get them out in a boat.”
An industrywide Welcome to the Water National Marina Day that Blackwell addressed during the webinar should be a win-win for everyone in the industry, Lewis said. “WTTW on NMD offers us the opportunity to make taking that next step easy in a mutually beneficial way,” Lewis said. “For marinas it’s an opportunity to show-off their facility, services and attract new people. For dealers it’s a chance to re-energize cold prospects and give the most recent ones that extra little nudge.”
Blackwell unveiled a revamped Discover Boating website at the webinar, emphasizing that the “Boat Selector” tool has led to increased traction and manufacturer site referrals. It has been implemented on the Take Me Fishing website, and Discover Boating is working with other “big entities — some sites that have a lot of traffic,” to integrate the boat selector tool, as well, Blackwell said.
Brunswick, GE extend floorplan agreement
Brunswick Corp. and GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance division extended their joint venture, Brunswick Acceptance Co., through 2016.
The joint venture, referred to as BAC, was formed in 2002 and began operations in 2003 and is the largest floorplan finance provider for Brunswick boat brands and Mercury Marine engines in the United States, as well as one of the largest providers of wholesale financing programs and service to the marine industry.
“This extension is a reflection of the commitment that the partners have to the U.S. marine industry, as well as our confidence in BAC’s demonstrated ability to provide market-leading products and services to the dealer body,” Brunswick chairman and CEO Dustan McCoy said in a statement.
“We are committed to offering our dealers all the tools they need, including a stable and affordable source of financing, along with our high-quality boats and engines to ensure they can provide America’s boaters with a fully satisfying ownership experience.”
“We are excited about our extension with Brunswick, and we will continue to provide their dealers with flexible financing and top-notch customer service,” Commercial Distribution Finance marine group president Bruce Van Wagoner said in a statement. “BAC dealers will also continue to have access to CDF’s industry-leading online tools and the resources of GE to help them manage and grow their business.”
In a related development in Canada, Commercial Distribution Finance renewed its agreement to be the strategic inventory finance provider for Brunswick boat dealers through 2016.
Survey ranks Midwest tops in participation
The Coast Guard’s 2011 National Recreational Boating Survey shows that the highest boating participation rate and highest percentage of people who fished from a boat was concentrated in the Midwest.
The study found that about 29 percent, or 34.2 million, of the estimated 116.7 million U.S. households had at least one member who was on a boat, canoe or kayak in 2011. Because many people don’t include kayaks and canoes under the boating umbrella, the NRBS asked the question specifically in order to capture all people who spent time on the water in a recreational vessel, the survey stated.
More than a third, or 12 million, of all boating households in the United States were in the South. The overall household boating participation rate was highest in the Midwest, at 34.6 percent. The Midwest also had the highest percentage, 17.4 percent, of households with at least one person who fished from a boat.
The Northeast had the highest percentage of households with one or more people who canoed or kayaked in 2011, at 14.7 percent. Canoeing and kayaking were especially popular in Maine, where 31.8 percent of households had at least one member who had kayaked or canoed, and New Hampshire, which had 31 percent.
California (3 million) and Florida (2.5 million) had the highest numbers of households participating in boating, and Alaska (53.2 percent) and Minnesota (50.7 percent) had the highest overall percentage of boating households.
Brunswick names Whaler president
In a long line of recent domino-effect changes, the Brunswick Boat Group named Huw Bower president of Boston Whaler.
Bower will leave open his most recent post as president of Brunswick’s aluminum boat brand Lowe. He replaces Tim Schiek, who was tapped to head Sea Ray Boats after former president Rob Parmentier’s departure.
“Any time you move things internally you have a series of domino effects, and we want to be able to play that out as well as we can so we’re strengthened everywhere along the way,” Brunswick Boat Group president Andy Graves said just prior to Schiek’s appointment.
Bower, who will report to Graves, will be responsible for managing the Boston Whaler, Brunswick Commercial & Government Products, and Rayglass teams.
Bower joined Brunswick in 2006, and for the past three years has led Lowe, where he significantly strengthened and expanded the product portfolio, built strong dealer relationships while adding new stores to the dealer body and drove market share gains, Graves said in an announcement.
“Under Huw’s leadership, Lowe has pioneered best practices in lead management and social media,” Graves said in the statement. “He also has adeptly led new product development and market launches of both aluminum fish boats and pontoons, and championed Lowe’s entry into the bayboat market. Huw also has spearheaded the redesign of an all-new aluminum deck boat, to debut this spring, targeted to capture consumer interest in the growing dayboat marketplace.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue.