How’s the U.S. economy? If you’re Yamaha Marine Group president Ben Speciale, a man known for his enthusiasm and passion for boating, you’re seeing good things.
In a recent interview with Soundings Trade Only, Speciale said his company believes the economy and the marine industry are continuing to slowly recover and are unlikely to lose their footing.
“Though we’d love to see huge growth, we’re probably not going to see huge growth,” Speciale said, “but we also don’t believe there’s going to be a disaster happening. We kind of have a consistent view of the economy. We think the fundamentals are all there for it to grow.”
Speciale firmly believes in the principle that products built better will have more value and people will buy them for that reason.
“I think people want the right systems in the [boats they buy],” he said. “Obviously everybody worries about price, but they want the right systems in the product. They’re not going to compromise stuff to get a cheaper price. They want the stuff right.
“If that wasn’t true, you would not see electronics in boats. You don’t need a 14-inch touchscreen electronic thing to tell you where you’re at. You don’t need one of those. You can always buy a 6-inch one. It’s a lot cheaper. They want the screen. They want all that because there’s value in their world to that stuff.”
Speciale said he wants the people who work for the outboard engine supplier to share his enthusiasm for the sport.
“We encourage everyone in our building to go boating all the time,” said Speciale, who has been president of the Georgia-based unit of Yamaha Motor Corp. USA since 2010. “Everybody gets smarter when they go out and use the boats that we have available to them. They’re smarter. I laughed — they took a bunch of people who’d been here a relatively short time out in our training area and made them replace water pumps on our lower units. What a great thing that is.
“Ever replaced a water pump in a lower unit? Well, you probably have. But the average person probably hasn’t. That’s why it’s so important to our training because now you understand how important a water pump is in an outboard motor. It’s really important. If you haven’t used your engine in six months, your water pump might be bad. Well, you can't take it out without a working water pump. I love that type of stuff because all of a sudden people get smarter about what the consumer sees.”
Speciale said his company’s challenge is to continue to drive a passion for boating into its employees and network of dealers.
“The marine business is a hard business to understand, but it’s really fun,” he said. “Why do you need a bass boat that runs 72 miles per hour to catch five fish that costs $60-something? The answer is: You don’t. But it’s really cool. I really want one. I think as long as that passion is built into our organization going forward, that will fix a lot of the challenges.”
See the rest of the interview with Speciale in the August issue of Soundings Trade Only.