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It’s all about the integration

Two recent acquisitions share the goal of linking systems to make the boating experience more automotive.

Brunswick Corp. believes its acquisition of Power Products’ 11 marine and mobile brands will help its Mercury division deliver an integrated automotive experience that people have come to expect on boats.

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“One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that the multiple systems on a boat or RV can work seamlessly together,” says Chris Drees, Mercury Marine president of global marine parts and accessories.

In the past, boatbuilders would buy individual components and had to ensure they worked well together. A new division of Power Products, Power Products Integrated Services, is helping in that regard. Not only will builders have an easier time installing electrical systems, but the company also provides installation service.

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“From our end, we’re making the experience easier for the customer and making the boatbuilding experience easier for our OEM customers, as well,” Drees says. “For a lot of the smaller builders, it just doesn’t make sense to invest in some of the resources needed to do that.”

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Power Products can ensure the electrical backbone will be integrated on the boats. “That’s one of the key benefits that we can bring to the marketplace, an electrical system that can work with all the different parts on the boat,” Drees says. “It is so critical to deliver that type of automotive experience to customers when they buy an expensive boat.”

These systems will also have to work with Yamaha, BRP, Suzuki and other engine companies, Drees says. “Power Products will be able to build that electrical backbone whether it be Mercury or Yamaha, and ensure that the whole system works seamlessly with their engine.”

Power Products comprises the brands Ancor, BEP, Blue Sea Systems, CZone, Del City, Lenco Marine, Marinco, Mastervolt, Park Power, Progressive Industries and ProMariner.

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Drees says the mix of companies made the purchase compelling for Brunswick. “They design the systems, so they can provide the service to OEMs,” he says. “That’s new to the marketplace. We’re also flexible and don’t pretend there’s one solution for everyone. We’ll adapt to the needs of the market.”

Navico sounds a similar refrain about its merger with C-MAP, saying its new subsidiary will continue to supply competitors such as Furuno and Raymarine. The idea behind the merger was also about integration as Navico modernizes C-MAP’s software across its electronics hardware brands with the idea of providing a more seamless on-board experience for people who are used to automotive systems.

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“We’re working to present data that will be much more intuitive,” says Leif Ottosson, Navico CEO. “The idea is offer the same experience that people enjoy in their cars. We’ll be using a more adaptive technology with our mapping systems that links with our other electronics.”

The new technology will include “base” mapping around specific activities, and the electronic mapping will share data with electronics so an owner can deploy features like a “fishing” layer that describes where the fish are, as well as weather, current and other information. “Our goal is to make it easier to use the electronics,” Ottosson says. “We plan to present everything in four or five modes that are easy to understand. The idea is to appeal to 98 percent of boaters who may not be that experienced.”

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Ottosson says there are no “imminent” plans for more acquisitions, though Navico could acquire a company if it fits into its long-term plans.

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue.

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