Once the plodding, gray battleship of the boating world, Brunswick Corp. can now legitimately claim to be the industry’s big-idea incubator. When it comes to innovation, Brunswick is nimble and moving fast, inside and outside the company.
Several years ago, Brunswick developed teams from its boat, engine and equipment companies to work on new projects. These teams are tasked with exploring emerging technologies that could have a positive impact on boating, then report back to the group about potential applications. The motive is to not only develop possible solutions, but also investigate new ideas, even if the idea never comes to market.
Brunswick also partnered with TechNexus in Chicago, which provides a link to incubator and accelerator labs around the country. TechNexus is able to tap into Silicon Valley cultures without having to commit serious resources to technologies that may never pan out. But Brunswick will have first rights on those that do.
Brunswick’s new iJET Lab at the University of Illinois is also working on innovative projects that range from artificial intelligence to augmented reality to a dozen other topics on the leading edges of technology. Within months of launching, the lab’s engineering and computer science students came up with a cool marketing tool, an augmented-reality version of a Boston Whaler 17 Montauk used by dealers for virtual walkthroughs. Nautic-On, recognized with an Honorable Mention in our awards this year, was the first graduate of the iJET Lab.
Beyond the multifaceted approach to innovation, the judges also recognized Brunswick’s Boston Whaler for an app that delivered unexpected new buyers at boat shows and Lund for its new manufacturing execution system, which has shortened production delays from a week to a day — a leap in technology that made dealers much happier.
In this video from IBEX 2018, Brunswick CEO Mark Schwabero discusses the next 12 months in the boating industry with Michael Verdon.
In this video from IBEX 2018, Brunswick chief technology officer David Foulkes talks with Soundings Trade Only senior editor Eric Colby about innovations and the efforts the company is making to transform the industry.
In this video from IBEX 2018, Brunswick Boat Group president and vice president Huw Bower talks about developments and trends within his business.
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.