Sunday cruising with Larson Boat Group
By Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor
August 20, 2013
Filed under Tom Kaiser
Nobody likes working on a weekend, but it’s a whole different situation when that “work” means heading out onto the water with a fun bunch of people to check out some new boats. So it was this past Sunday, as I was invited to the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minn., for a look at the Larson Boat Group’s latest products.
Following an interview about the company’s strategy that’s reinvented its portfolio, Mike O’Connell, executive VP and COO, took us for a walking tour through the full product line that was all shined up in the convention hall awaiting this week’s dealer meeting.
O’Connell is outwardly excited about many of the company’s latest models, and it was energizing to hear his enthusiasm and rationale behind Larson’s short- and long-term plans. He makes a solid case for focusing on quality, features and desirability, rather than high volume — for the dealers, the factory and the customers.
Following our personal sneak peak, we hit the highway for the company’s on-the-water headquarters to the north in Little Falls. Located on the Mississippi River, the assembled journalists were able to poke, prod and drive several of Larson’s newest boats.
While they’re very excited about its new Escape pontoon, I had the most fun piloting the latest Striper — my first turn behind the wheel of such a vessel. I couldn’t believe the speed for something so large, and enjoyed the rush that came from banking it through corners with speed.
A year in to the marine industry, after 7 years playing around in the powersports market, I’m very impressed with how fun and down-to-earth everybody is. From CEOs right down to dealers, everybody is happy to meet me, is excited that I’m experiencing a lot of this for the first time and has gone out of their way to explain the details that matter when you’re a journalist figuring out what’s what a new industry.
Hopefully this is the kind of warm welcome prospective customers get when they’re considering making their first boat purchase. If so, they may quickly never be able to imagine their lives without boats. I’m getting there myself, and it’s a lot of fun.