Eric and Brian Davis have decided to leave Seven Marine, the pioneering outboard manufacturer they helped launch with their father, Rick Davis, in Germanton, Wis., in 2010.
“We really enjoyed having the opportunity to change the outboard market, and that’s something we wanted to do,” Brian Davis told Trade Only Today. The 44-year-old was vice president of outboard sales and handled the company’s financials.
Eric Davis, 42, worked with his father to develop the high-horsepower outboard, which has a powerhead based on a General Motors LS V-8. He was vice president of brand and engineering technology and holds some 100 patents.
“He’s the inventor. I’m the implementer,” Brian Davis said.
Their departure was made official, Feb. 17 following the announcement that Volvo Penta of the Americas, which bought Seven Marine in 2017, was moving manufacturing of the outboards to Lexington, Tenn. The timing of the brothers’ departure after the move announcement was coincidental.
Rick Davis will remain in an advisory role, working out of Germantown.
“There’s so much knowledge from Rick, it’s important for us to leverage his experience,” Jens Bering, vice president of marine sales for Volvo Penta of the Americas, told Trade Only Today.
Brian Davis said the family wanted to make sure that Seven Marine was properly integrated into the Volvo Penta organization before the brothers moved on. “The Davis family has been involved with Seven for 10 years and 2½ with Volvo Penta,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to step out of the organization with all the pieces in place for Volvo Penta to move forward.”
Volvo Penta and Seven Marine together trained service technicians for 18 months before the transition. Christine Carlson, marketing communications manager for Volvo Penta of the Americas, said the company worked with Seven Marine employees, helping them relocate to Tennessee or providing severance packages.
For the short term, Bering said Volvo Penta will continue to build and market the 527, 577 and 627-hp outboards. “There will be a lot of Seven footprint in what we do,” he said. “Volvo has made significant investments on the parts, service and production side that shows there’s no thought of shutting it down.”
The Davises are looking at business opportunities in additive manufacturing and 3-D printing within the health-technology segment. “We would like to take our entrepreneurial spirit and apply it to new markets,” Brian Davis said. “It’s an odd transition. You go from waking up and breathing one thing and you have to force yourself to breathe in a different direction.”
Reflecting on Seven Marine’s 10-year run, Bering said, “It’s not your average outboard. It’s far, far from it. They created something really unique and interesting.”
Brian Davis said he and his brother believe Seven Marine helped launched the wave of large outboards from other manufacturers. “We were at the front end of that and saying this is possible,” he said. “We really enjoyed the thought of driving change in the industry.”