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Maxum brand a casualty of the downturn

Brunswick discontinues the line it established in 1988, the fifth since May 2008

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As part of its ongoing cost-cutting initiatives, Brunswick Corp. in August announced plans to discontinue its Maxum boat line, which it established in 1988. It is the fifth boat line Brunswick has discontinued in the last year in response to the sagging economy. In May 2008, Brunswick announced it would cease production of its Bluewater Marine brands, including Sea Pro, Sea Boss, Palmetto and Laguna.

"This decision emerged from our continuing efforts to review every aspect of our operations, including our brand portfolio, in an effort to position Brunswick to emerge from this downturn a stronger company," says company spokesman Dan Kubera. "It was a difficult but necessary decision driven and based on economics."

Maxum did not have a dedicated manufacturing facility, so no changes in production plans are anticipated, Kubera says.

Though the announcement came as a surprise to some, those who spoke with Soundings Trade Only say they did not expect the brand's departure to have a significant impact. "I wasn't too upset about it. It's not a crucial boat line," says Gary Dobrindt, of The Boat Center, with locations in Connecticut and Rhode Island. "There isn't anybody that's just a Maxum dealer. ... It's usually tied in with a Bayliner dealer.

"They're pretty redundant boats," he adds. "I don't think that it's really that much of an impact."

Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, says he was not surprised at the news. "I think in the original intent, Maxum was a line to be in between Bayliner and Sea Ray, and I just don't think the market held up for that," he says.

At the time of the announcement, Brunswick also noted that there would be no change to the type or level of warranty service, parts and support provided to the Maxum dealers.

"We are offering the dealers an opportunity to continue with the significant retail and wholesale incentives that have been in place during this selling season to support the dealers' retail efforts," Kubera says.

Steve Rogenski, owner of Tempo Marine in East Moline, Ill., says he has been a Maxum dealer since the brand's inception, but after he picked up Bayliner in 1994 he saw sales drop on Maxums. "It was just a step-up line for us," he says. "The Bayliner was more volume than the Maxum."

Rogenski, who also recently became a Sea Ray dealer, says the Maxum brand got lost in between Sea Ray and Bayliner. "They've been competing against themselves quite hard for the last three or four years," he says. "They've competed against themselves for so long that something was bound to give."

Dobrindt, who also sells Bayliner, Trophy, Wellcraft and other brands, says Maxum is a small portion of his business. "Certainly, no one wants to drop anything," he says. "They'll bring it back into production in a couple of years, probably when the market turns around."

Keeter says he won't be surprised if more companies decide to discontinue lines or reduce the number of model offerings. "I think that more boat manufacturers are probably going to reduce the amount of offerings that they have in their product line," he says. "If they have 20 models, I think you're going to see that pared down to a much smaller menu."

With Maxum out, Brunswick now manufactures 16 U.S.-based boat brands, in addition to those it builds in Europe and New Zealand. "Brunswick could knock more lines out of there; they've still got an awful lot of product offerings," says Keeter. "I think when the Genmar thing ferrets out and it comes out of bankruptcy, I think you're going to see some of those companies gone, too."

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.

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