BRP CEO says tariffs are impacting the boat business

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BRP finalized its purchase of Telwater Boats last week.

BRP finalized its purchase of Telwater Boats last week.

BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli told media that tariffs are impacting its boating business. Boisjoli made the comments at the closing of its acquisition of Telwater, Australia’s largest aluminum boatbuilder. The purchase price was not disclosed.

BRP now owns 80 percent of Telwater’s outstanding shares; its founder and now managing director, Paul Phelan, owns 20 percent. Boisjoli said that Telwater’s Quintrax brand has about $100 million in annual sales.

“For Australians, Quintrax boats are like Ski-Doos for Quebecois,” Boisjoli told CanadianManufacturing.com.

Boisjoli said that aluminum fishing and pontoon boats comprise about 50 percent of the global market. “It’s over $20 billion worldwide,” he said. “And if you look in the category of 15- to 25-foot boats, where do you start?”

BRP has no plans to buy more builders, Boisjoli said. “Short-term, we don’t intend to acquire more companies.”

The trade war between the United States and Canada hurt BRP’s margins, according to Boisjoli. While the 10 percent tariff on aluminum was lifted in May, tariffs on aluminum imports from China remain a drag on its two U.S. builders, Alumacraft and Manitou.

“This is affecting us for sure, but I see this as short term,” Boisjoli said. “Obviously it’s not fun. We need to manage it. But at the same time, it’s a short-term pain.”

Boisjoli said BRP’s manufacturing flexibility and product diversity — which includes ATVs, three-wheeled motorcycles and Evinrude outboards — could help the company if the trade war drags on. Telwater was Evinrude’s Australian dealer for three years before BRP acquired it.

“Our assembly lines are look-alikes,” Boisjoli said. “They are standardized between all the manufacturing facilities. If you visit Valcourt, the way the line is set up is similar to what we have in Mexico or in Finland. If a new regulation would happen, it would take 12 months or 18 months to adapt, but we could move stuff around.” 

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