Maverick Boat Co. sold out all of its orders for the second quarter at its July 19 dealer meeting near Stuart, Fla., building on the pace it set in February at the Miami International Boat Show. The dealer meeting preceded a July 20-22 media event at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Resort and Marina.
“We like bringing our dealers and the media here and getting them out on the water,” says Charlie Johnson, director of product marketing and promotions. “We had a record year at the Miami show, but experiencing these boats in the real world is so different than seeing them at a show.”
Ninety percent of Maverick’s dealers attended; there was a 98 percent showing by the company’s Florida dealers. Maverick accepted orders through the second quarter to the maximum production capacity of its Fort Pierce, Fla., plant. Forty-five percent of production at the facility is dedicated to the Cobia line, 45 percent to the Pathfinder line and the remaining 10 percent to the Maverick HPX and Hewes Redfisher lines.
Cobia is a growing brand, with sales of the big Cobia boats — the 277 and the 296 — remaining strong, Johnson says. Pathfinder remains a strong regional brand.
The meeting allows Maverick to offer dealers a “state of the company” report, Johnson says. “We tell them where we’re at, and we set the table for next year. We let them know where we’re headed.”
The media event, attended by 30 members of the marine industry press, was hosted by Maverick and some of its top suppliers, including Yamaha, Shimano, Motor Guide, Costa del Mar and Garmin. This was Maverick’s third such event.
“Maverick and Yamaha are both companies with first-class products that do things the right way,” Yamaha Marine product information manager David Meeler says. “It’s no wonder the two go hand in hand.”
Local fishing guides took the media representatives through two days of boat rotations, fishing inshore and offshore on five boats. Maverick’s fleet included its newest model, the Cobia 277 CC (introduced at the Miami International Boat Show), a Pathfinder 2600 TRS, Pathfinder 2400 TRS, Maverick 17 HPX-S and a Hewes Redfisher 18. The anglers caught and released two 55-pound sailfish, several bonita and snook, along with a 4-foot shark, a mahi and an 8-pound mutton snapper.
“I’ve owned Pathfinders for 10 years, and I don’t see myself using anything else,” professional fishing guide Eric Davis said aboard Maverick’s Pathfinder 2600. “The area [around Stuart] is one of the few places you can hook a sailfish offshore, then come in and catch snook and snapper close to shore. The Pathfinder is the right boat for this kind of fishing.”
“It makes all the difference when you can experience the products in the real world,” Johnson says. “We’re making touch points on the boats, making them comfortable, adding features and amenities. The Pathfinder 2600 is the first Pathfinder with a head. But we’re not getting too soft. We’re not getting away from the fishing stuff.”
Maverick Boat Co. is celebrating 30 years in business this year, and company founder and CEO Scott Deal joined the media representatives at the Hutchinson Island event. Deal, co-author of the Morris-Deal Commission report on saltwater fishing policy, talked red snapper catch limits at the opening night dinner and expressed a need to push forward with more meaningful quota allocations. Deal says the federal government plays an important role in fisheries management, but its catch allocation methods need updating.
Deal and Johnny Morris, the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, co-chaired the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission. In 2014 the commission released “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” a report that calls for six key policy changes in the federal management of saltwater recreational fishing.
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources approved a bill that would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act this spring. The measure addressed top priorities of the recreational fishing community and included an amendment that would prompt a review of quota allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The amendment addresses quotas for both commercial and recreational fishermen. Another amendment that called for a transfer of the management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states failed.
Deal says the Pathfinder 2600 is a fish-on-Saturday, family-on-Sunday kind of boat, with added amenities for “guys like me who are getting older, but still love to fish.” Meanwhile, he says, the technical fishing skiffs of the Maverick HPX line are still the boats for the hard-core fish guys.
Johnson took a moment at the dinner to reflect on Maverick’s early days and where the company stands today. Maverick started with six molds Deal bought in 1985. It now has 633 in its Fort Pierce factory and produces 1,452 combinations of its designs. For the past two years it has run three shifts 24 hours a day, six days a week. Each week, the company goes through more than 44,000 pounds of resin, builds more than 500 fiberglass parts and finishes 24 boats. It employs 240 people.
Maverick says it retailed 847 combined units in the past 12 months. Its Cobia line continues to be the fastest-growing segment, with a 24 percent increase this year from last year. Although Maverick has sold more units in previous years, last year’s sales were a record from a revenue standpoint, Johnson says. “The boats we’re selling are bigger, with more features. The average invoice is higher.”
Johnson says Maverick continues to be an industry leader in the skiff market and is doing well in the bay boat market. The company intends to have a corporate booth at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this fall and at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show.
Johnson says the overall boat market is still below 2005 levels and Maverick’s customers continue to be the “moneyed few.”
“Our market is fishing boats. We’re going to pump it hard with fishing boats,” he says. “Nonetheless, we’re also going to bring out boats with some comfort features.”
The Cobia 277 CC features “cushy” chairs and seating for family. The Pathfinder 2600 TRS is Maverick’s first Pathfinder with a head.
“We like where we sit in the price range with the Cobia,” he says. “We’re going to stay below the guys that want extreme amounts of money for those [type of] boats. Our model lineup is really fresh, especially Cobia. We scrapped all the models when we bought Cobia and started from the ground up.”
Representatives of Yamaha, Shimano, Garmin, Motor Guide and Costa del Mar spoke briefly at the dinner.
Meeler says Yamaha’s vision is to create a lifetime of memories and exciting experiences. “We try to do that through our products,” he says.
Technological advancements such as the MAX SHO (max super-high output) engines and variable camshaft timing, Meeler says, can only be appreciated on the water.
“It’s not something you can feel in the showroom,” he says. “We get our ideas by walking down the docks and asking our customers what they want.”
Meeler distributed copies of Yamaha’s new 33-page book, “Maintenance Matters: A Simple Guide for the Longevity of Your Outboard,” and asked the press to get the word out about the resource.
“We’ve been around a lot of years and made a lot of mistakes,” he says. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons, and we’ve put them in this book.”
Garmin regional sales manager Michael Range voiced the same message when discussing Garmin’s 7612 chart plotter/sonar units aboard the Cobia 277 CC.
“Knowledge is power,” Range says. “We can speak to people at the shows and send press releases, but it’s not the same as being out here on the water and using the products.
“We have customers ask us all the time about [whether we have] a detailed manual on how to use these combination units. Time on the water is the best way to learn. Go fishing.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.