Genmar is expanding its FinCraft line

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It plans to build 8,000 to 10,000 of the fiberglass fishing boats by the end of 2010

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Genmar Holdings this spring announced the expansion of its new FinCraft line, with plans to introduce new models for the 2009 spring and summer selling season.

Complementing the 17-foot VEC-manufactured FinCraft introduced in January will be a 19-foot center console, expected by early July, as well as a 17-foot dual console and what the company calls the 1850 dual console. The boats are available in three color options: red, dark blue and black.

"I believe that FinCraft could make the difference in not only helping your dealership to get through these historically difficult times, but FinCraft in many cases could make the difference between a dealership being profitable or not being profitable," Genmar chairman Irwin Jacobs wrote in a May 7 letter to dealers.

In the letter, Jacobs outlined plans to have the dealer network for the new line of fiberglass fishing boats completely signed up in the United States, Canada and internationally in the next three to four months. Plans include the building and retailing of 8,000 to 10,000 FinCrafts by the end of 2010.

"I am extremely pleased with the early response and success we've already had with the launch of the 17-foot single console FinCraft, where we've already signed up approximately 40 percent of the goal of 250 FinCraft dealers in less than 90 days," Jacobs wrote.

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While he admits that's "an aggressive number" in these times, he told dealers he believes "most of our FinCraft business is going to come at the expense of the aluminum boat segment of the market."

"I know these are difficult and challenging times, but I'm more convinced now than ever before that better days are ahead," Jacobs wrote.

Genmar says improvements to its VEC closed-mold technology led to the development of the FinCraft line. "This is a major improvement for us, one that we've been working on for the past three years," Genmar president Al Kuebelbeck told Soundings Trade Only.

Engineers finalized improvements that allow gelcoat (and hull color) to be applied as part of the VEC process. Previously, the gelcoat had to be applied after the hull came out of the self-contained VEC chamber.

"Essentially, VEC has gone color," said Kuebelbeck, adding that the improvements mean Genmar can now build a boat in an hour instead of two to three hours. That increased efficiency allows the company to offer FinCraft boats at a lower price point than competing aluminum family/fishing boats, according to Jacobs.

"For a $2,000 to $3,000 down payment you can own boat for $139 a month, which is like $5 a day," said Jacobs.

Last year, the company reported that it was considering getting back into the aluminum-boat business, but those plans appear to be shelved for the time being.

"We were looking into attempting to buy one or two existing aluminum boat companies," Jacobs said. "We saw no way of lowering the price of aluminum boats to the level we wanted. We didn't just want to become another aluminum-boat company.

"During that time, our VEC engineers had been working on a new VEC process and a new way of manufacturing this type of a boat with VEC that we thought would take at least another eight to 10 months," he said.

"We are going into the entry-level market with a medium-market type product," he said. "This is not an entry-level product. We wanted to be able to offer people an alternative to the present market."

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.

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