IBEX 2019: Disrupting the industry

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Watershed

During a Trade Only Today livestream interview yesterday at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference, Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin said his company plans to disrupt the industry with emerging technologies that are being applied to its boat brands. The company formed Watershed Innovations a year and half ago, Yeargin said, to work with new technologies.

“We’ve invested $10 million in Watershed in technologies that could come to our industry,” he said. “We’re looking at artificial intelligence, virtual reality, telematics, IoT, robotics, additive manufacturing and others. Basically, we’re trying to look ahead five years.”

These technological changes could put many marine companies out of business, Yeargin said, if they are unprepared. “We see two types of innovation: sustaining and disruptive,” he said. “Some companies are really good at sustaining innovation by improving their products. What puts established companies out of business is disruptive innovation — new technologies that change paradigms. We’ve set up Watershed because we feel like it’s almost impossible for any company to have the mindset of making your product better while at the same time totally disrupting the business.”

Watershed will be tasked with focusing on disruptive technologies, while Correct Craft’s nine brands will continue to improve product lines. The company this year partnered with Nautique to put a telematics system on all models, and it designed and built a quiet-running aluminum bay boat with its Sea-Ark brand and Torqeedo the electric outboard manufacturer. It is now working on an electric towboat with Nautique and its Ingenity team.

“We want to be the clear leader in monetizing these trends on our boats,” Yeargin said.

Yeargin said that Correct Craft will have revenues of about $650 million this year, with the goal to have $1 billion in annual sales by 2025. He said the company could get there faster through organic growth and acquisitions.

Correct Craft acquired three companies this year, including Parker Boats and Merritt Precision, and it recently purchased 60 acres adjoining its headquarters in Orlando, Fla., for expansion. “We kind of feel like the snake that swallowed the big rabbit after these acquisitions,” Yeargin said. “But we’re looking at other companies outside our current segments and will continue to increase optimization in our companies.”

Correct Craft also is holding a summit on corporate culture in January. “We decided to take what we’ve learned about culture and share it with the industry,” Yeargin said, noting Correct Craft will underwrite the costs. “We’ve got an all-star cast of speakers and have twice as many applications as spaces for the summit. We think it will be a highly successful event.”

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