Industry veteran Rob Parmentier says he’s eager to jump back into the boatbuilding side of the industry as president of the Larson Boat Group.
“They’ve got a very unique product line,” Parmentier told Trade Only Today. “The reason I went with [Larson chairman Irwin] Jacobs is, they have a good mix of freshwater, saltwater, cruisers and runabouts. I don’t have to tell you what’s selling out there. I think that’s going to be a huge asset to getting some new dealers signed. And then Marquis and Carver, they round out the whole troupe.”
But it’s not just Parmentier’s reputation as having handpicked the highly regarded Sea Ray dealer network — “all 196 of them in 92 countries” — that he brings to the table.
He also says his experience on the financial side during the last year was invaluable. “I got to learn that part of the business and, trust me, it will be very beneficial for my employer, as it was for me. I will miss that company. I will very much miss the people there.”
Parmentier worked at Sea Ray for three decades, doing everything from lamination to engine work, cabinetry building, boat testing, sales and marketing, and ultimately leading the company as president.
“I helped build that company,” Parmentier said. “I worked for Mr. Ray. But you’ve got to grow from things that happen. I’ve grown a lot in the past few years. You learn a lot about yourself in the face of adversity. Brunswick went in a different direction. And I really respect Dusty [McCoy, the CEO of Brunswick Corp.] I’ve got nothing bad to say about him.”
Jacobs was familiar with Parmentier’s diverse background. “He also knew the kind of person that I was. Everyone in the industry knew that also, so I’m going to team up with Mr. Jacobs and make it a very successful business,” Parmentier said.
When asked, Parmentier acknowledged that it might seem odd going to work for Jacobs, who used to head Genmar Holdings — at one time the biggest competitor of Brunswick, parent company of the Sea Ray Boat Group — but says, ultimately, “It’s just a good fit. Mr. Jacobs and I are both extremely energetic people. We’re very marketing-minded and I’m looking forward to it.”
Jacobs filed for bankruptcy protection for all 15 of Genmar’s companies in June 2009, but the companies wound up being liquidated. Platinum Equity purchased the Larson, Triumph and Seaswirl brands from Genmar and sold them to Jacobs’ new company, J&D Acquisitions, which also owns Carver and Marquis.
“It was an unbelievably different time,” he said. “Even if you look right now, fiberglass inboards and sterndrives are still down. We’re up, but we’re only up in four segments: fiberglass fish, ski and tow, aluminum and sail. That means opportunity. I truly believe we’re at the inflection point.”
“I’ve met the people there, and they’re all good Midwestern boatbuilders that care about their company,” Parmentier continued. “The heritage has been around for a long time. I came from that kind of world, where people care about legacies of the brand and what they meant. So that was another big selling feature for me.”
— Reagan Haynes