Brunswick/Mercury and Correct Craft were named the top companies in Soundings Trade Only’s Most Innovative Marine Company Awards. The announcement was made during the Industry Breakfast today at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference in Tampa, Fla.
Michael Verdon, editor-in-chief of Soundings Trade Only, presented the awards. “We launched these awards to expand the definition of ‘innovation’ so it isn’t just about new products,” he said at the breakfast. “We see innovation in how these marine companies are reinventing themselves in a changing marketplace. We looked at factors like acquisitions, sustainability efforts, the creation of innovation centers, export programs and workforce initiatives.”
Judges included Verdon; Bill Sisson, vice president and editorial director of the Active Interest Media Marine Group; Eric Colby, senior editor of Soundings Trade Only; Michele Goldsmith, publisher of Soundings Trade Only; Marcia Kull, former president of Torqeedo; and Tom Douglass, former vice president of sales and marketing for Dometic/SeaStar Solutions.
The judges voted across different segments for each company, and the contest resulted in a tie. Kull and Douglass recused themselves from voting for any company for which they had previously worked.
“We recognized Brunswick, its boat brands and engine division for serious innovation across the company,” Verdon said. “It chose to turn itself into a standalone marine company, which shows its commitment to the industry. CEO David Foulkes also wants to make Brunswick a tech and lifestyle company and has been taking concrete steps to get there.”
The company was cited for its iJet Lab, Nautic-On and its recent Brunswick Technology Center. Mercury Marine also has made significant gains in new products and infrastructure development as part of its 10-year, $1.8 billion plan to reinvest in the company. Verdon also cited Brunswick’s recent acquisition of Power Products for $900 million. “All these factors combined left no doubt that the company has made innovation its mantra,” he said in presenting the award.
Correct Craft received the same overall score, but Verdon said the reasoning behind the company’s selection was different. “Correct Craft is a smaller company, but its dedication to innovation is just as fierce,” Verdon said. “It has moved from a single boat brand to 11 brands, all tasked with innovation. It has also opened its new Watershed innovation center, made telematics standard on its Nautique brand and will launch a new electric Nautique in the next model year.”
CEO Bill Yeargin has created a “forward-thinking culture” for Correct Craft. “It’s one that includes diversity, giving back to the community, advocacy and even bringing competitors together to discover how we can become a better industry,” he said.
The rest of the top 10 list and honorable mentions include:
- Scout Boats
- Groupe Beneteau
- Volvo Penta of the Americas
- Adaptive Surface Technologies
- Taco Metals
- Seattle Boatworks
- MasterCraft Boats
Verdon said the ranking of these companies will be revealed in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.