The Marquis-Larson Boat Group cancelled its dealer open house, scheduled for Aug. 19-21, because of strong new-boat demand, a transition between plants and dozens of job openings that remain unfilled.
“I’m about 40 people short. I’m trying to hire day in and day out, and I’m moving my assembly lines,” president and CEO Rob Parmentier told Trade Only Today. “Work force has been difficult. I didn’t anticipate this when we closed the plant in Minnesota. Everywhere I travel I see help-wanted signs. I know all my compadres on the NMMA board are experiencing the same difficulties.”
The company has made more than 150 engineering changes to the Larson FX line, Parmentier said, which has resulted in “people really loving those boats.”
“We’re bucking the trend on Carvers. We have seen none of the slowdown reflected in the SSI data,” Parmentier said. “We retailed eight in the last 10 days. I’d much rather be here than begging for orders. … But it’s still a difficult position.”
Parmentier explained the situation in a letter to dealers:
“From the lean manufacturing processes underway, moving Carver lamination and assembly areas from the building behind the corporate office to across the street and reorganizing that area to free up space to be solely for Larson Boat Group production. The ramping up and preparation for the next Lexus yacht for production and getting the new Striper 250 WA ready for its debut, an open house would add unwanted additional strain to the organization. Again, for these reasons, we are canceling this year’s open house as planned.”
The company is working to fill open positions, recruiting at high schools, holding open houses, doing billboards and radio ads, and visiting cities with higher unemployment.
“Everything in the universe, we’re doing,” Parmentier said. “Some of it’s getting some traction. We even partnered with a local minimum-security prison, and that’s working out great. Everybody deserves a second chance, and they’ve paid their dues. … It’s a chance for them to get their feet back on the ground, and they’ve been some of the best workers we’ve hired.”
The company will continue to hold webinars and virtual training, and keep information flowing.
“We’re not going to let that fall by the wayside,” Parmentier said. “What it came down to was, do I build more boats or do I stop and put a party on? Dealers want more boats.”