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Marine Products Corp. will focus on smaller boats

Chaparral and Robalo builder Marine Products Corp. is focusing on smaller and entry-level boats moving forward, shifting focus away from the 35-foot-and-above market.

That’s according to vice president of corporate finance Jim Landers and president and CEO Rick Hubbell, who addressed questions from analysts last week in a conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings.

“That is a weaker market right now,” Landers said during the call. “We want to be there, but we’re kind of closing that, actually.”

“It has been our strength and, again, that segment of the market is weak,” Hubbell agreed. “I think we still have some very good products, but what we’re selling is smaller boats and entry-level boats. That’s where we’re focused now, as we think that’s where the growth opportunities are, but we will continue to monitor demand in larger boats and the demand in that segment, and we certainly can respond. We’ve got some awesome boats up to the 24- and 26-foot range and I think we would be able to capitalize on that, but right now we’re focused on smaller boats.”

Chaparral is leveraging its appeal to entry-level buyers to the marketplace with its H2O line and wants to attract younger boaters in the jetboat segment that it plans to enter, Landers said. “So we're catching people earlier in their boating lives and they have a good experience with their first product and they’ll stay with us throughout their boating career. We know demographically that that is important, as well.”

Testing of initial jetboat designs has been encouraging, and the boat tests will be available for dealers late in the first quarter of 2014, Hubbell said.

“We think with the new jetboat ... we hope to achieve some pretty good volume there,” Landers said. “We think we’ll be able to leverage some of our manufacturing space and overhead without additional volume.”

— Reagan Haynes

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