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FLIBS 2013 VIDEO: MarineMax touts new boats and sales gains

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FORT LAUDERDALE — With new boats from such brands as Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Scarab, Azimut and Hatteras that range from 19 to 100 feet, MarineMax is charging forward to build on the steady improvement it has seen during the last year.

“It’s an exciting time for the boat business,” MarineMax president, CEO and chairman Bill McGill said Wednesday night at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. “We are seeing very positive signs. Housing is recovering and automotive is on fire and our customers are coming out of the woodwork. We are very excited about this show. We have a lot of pent-up demand from customers. We have prepared ourselves for the better times, and they are coming.”

McGill and a handful of other MarineMax executives at the W Hotel assessed the industry’s temperature and outlined the new-boat offerings from many of its 11 brands. They made a presentation to about 70 members of the media.

MarineMax will push its product through a new marketing campaign called “United by Water,” MarineMax leisure lifestyle manager Abbey Heimensen said. “Boating really changes people’s lives — experiencing destinations and new locations and having fun with friends is what it is all about,” she said. “So our new logo is ‘United by Water.’ ”

MarineMax also has thrived by using a no-haggle sales philosophy, McGill said. In customer focus groups “when we asked them whether they want to negotiate, they said yes — ‘I want the best price,’ ” he said. “And that is what we are giving them. There is no negotiation, and customers are loving it.”

To introduce the new boats, three Sea Ray executives made presentations, starting with vice president of west operations Brett McGill. He described the smaller-boat lineups from Scarab, Boston Whaler and Sea Ray. The latter will introduce the 350 SLX, a big bowrider with twin MerCruiser sterndrives. Boston Whaler unveils three boats in its Dauntless family. Scarab hits the market with a 19.5-foot jetboat.

In the larger-boat segment, the 510 Flybridge from Sea Ray makes its debut. “It’s not the 510 Sundancer with a new lid,” MarineMax vice president of east operations Chuck Cashman said. “It’s a new boat from the keel up and it had to be to support the boat’s flybridge superstructure.”

Lex Raas, president of marketing for charters and special initiatives, followed Cashman. He told the crowd about the company’s charter business growth through the 484 power cat. “The 48 at the show is really doing well out on vacations,” he said. “We started pretty small, with 22 boats in January, but we’ll be up to just over 40 boats a year from now. The bookings are incredibly good. We just want the pie to get bigger, and we want a pretty significant piece of that pie.”

To that end, MarineMax at the Miami International Boat Show in February will add a 44-foot power cat to its lineup.

McGill told me before the event that “every quarter has gotten better.” He said all of the boat companies have been pumping out enticing vessels and technology, and it’s paying off.

“The new Boston Whaler Vantage series is on fire,” he said. “Sea Ray has been doing a great job, and Scarab has a new 19-1/2-foot jetboat here.”

Other new boats include the Azimut 80 (an 84 will debut in Miami) and Hatteras 100.

— Chris Landry

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