Navico hopes to build on a solid 2014 with more new products and technology that should propel the company past its revenue of last year, CEO Leif Ottosson told Trade Only Today this week.
“We had a decent year, not a stellar year, but decent,” Ottosson told me in a sit-down interview on Tuesday at the electronics company’s 2015 media event in the Florida Keys. “We grew from 7 to 8 percent in 2014 in revenues. In the overall electronics industry we saw a growth of about 4 to 5 percent in 2014, and this year we are looking at a growth of 7 to 8 percent, but we hope to take more than that.”
I also had the opportunity to talk to Louis Chemi, executive vice president and global head of recreational marine, and newly appointed deputy CEO Marc Jourlait during the same interview session.
The executives said new products will be the key to capturing market share.
“One of the products we want people to see is the Lowrance HDS Gen III, which brings all the functionality into one display, which is very easy to use in one package,” Chemi said. “That is a connected package, meaning it has built-in wireless connectivity that allows the consumer to experience features and tools that are part of our new GoFree feature set that we are developing.”
GoFree is Navico’s dedicated brand for digital marine solutions, providing extensive content and an MFD-based store with software updates, mapping and other data.
Another critical product that Navico promoted during the two-day press event was Simrad ForwardScan. “We think it is going to change the way people can safely navigate their boat,” Chemi said. The sonar technology generates a picture of the water column ahead of the boat, alerting the driver to dangerous submerged obstacles.
Navico also allowed journalists to test products that will be launched later this year.
“A lot of our sneak peeks are connectivity-related,” Chemi said. “We have a whole suite of new products … to enhance the usability and function of our products and other products on the boat with this GoFree technology. We have a number of core technologies — or replacement technologies — that take big steps ahead to do things on the boat you have done before in terms of looking out long distances and seeing what is around the boat — both below the water and above the water — in a better and simpler way.”
Jourlait comes to Navico from the consumer electronics world, where he was employed at Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Bose and other well-known companies. I asked him to compare the marine electronics business with the overall consumer electronics market.
“I see some similarities and parallels,” he said. “Certainly the pace of innovation — with Navico being a big driver of that — is catching up to consumer electronics. Consumer behavior in the marine electronics space is changing, as it has overall — how people shop, get their information for their products, how they expect to get a demonstration of the technology.”
But there are differences, he said.
“The passion for fishing and boating and sailing is palpable,” he said. “People are not passionate about their flat-screen TV. They are passionate about the movies they watch. People in the marine world care about their boat, fishing, sailing. They are passionate about their boats. That is very different from consumer electronics.”