Formerly with Boston Whaler, Tim Schiek aims to leverage his experience in the higher-end boat market, as well as improve dealer relations within Sea Ray’s network.
Recently, Brunswick named former Boston Whaler President Tim Schiek as the next president of the company’s Sea Ray brand. With the appointment, Boating Industry spoke with Schiek, who has been with Brunswick for the past 18 years, about what he plans on bringing to Sea Ray, including his own goals for the brand and improving dealer relations.
How do you think your years leading Boston Whaler will contribute to your position with Sea Ray?
Schiek: I want to bring a new energy to Sea Ray – both internally for the facility and also externally with our dealers and suppliers. Like Boston Whaler, Sea Ray is a premium brand, and it is recognized around the world. Customers of both enjoy the finer things in life, and those customers expect their own water experience to be flawless. So there is a similar customer expectation between the brands.
While at Boston Whaler we partnered closely with our dealers, many of which were also Sea Ray dealers. And we partnered with suppliers on the focus to improve the customer experience. Over the last couple of years there is no question that we were successful in doing that. Right now, Boston Whaler is run very well. We got great management teams there, and that is going to continue.
I will bring great focus, great internal and external teamwork and a tenacity to improve the Sea Ray consumer experience, continuing to focus in on enhancing the brand. At the end of the day, we will look to improve the overall business as a team. That is similar to what we were doing at Boston Whaler, and as we are doing that, we will continue to have fun with it also.
You mentioned dealer relations. Should dealers expect anything different going forward with you as president of the brand?
Schiek: I think we can improve the dealer network relations. We have a very strong dealer foundation, and we are going to continue to partner and improve those dealer relationships. There is no question that Sea Ray is one to work with the dealer network; however, there are still possibilities to improve some of those partnerships.
I am honored to be working with such a wonderful, eager network – without question Sea Ray has the best dealer network. I had the privilege to work with many of the Sea Ray dealers while at Boston Whaler. I built some very strong relationships and even some long-term friendships there.
Most dealers know that I promote working together to deliver the best business performance. At Sea Ray we will work closer with dealers around the world in all aspects of this, including to continue to deliver a great customer experience and improve both of our respective businesses on the top line and the bottom line. We are in this journey together.
What are some of the most important differences you see between Boston Whaler and Sea Ray?
Schiek: I would say there are more similarities between Boston Whaler and Sea Ray just because the high-end customers that we are dealing with between the two brands. I think there are more similarities than there are differences.
And at the end of the day, whatever company you are leading … it is about making sure the customer has a great experience, that the dealers have everything that they need to be successful with the brand they are selling, and that they are working together with that brand. There are more similarities than necessarily differences when you are both focused on the customer and making sure the dealer is successful.
Fiberglass has lagged in its recovery when compared to models with aluminum hulls. What do you think needs to happen to further the recovery in fiberglass markets?
Schiek: I think we just need to see improvement in consumer confidence to support the broad industry recovery. At Sea Ray, as well as at Boston Whaler, we are working at making boating more affordable, bringing new products to the market that excite the consumers, and driving new boat purchases.
Sea Ray recently introduced outboard-powered vessels. Do you see that as something that will grow within the brand?
Schiek: We launched some new outboard-powered vessels in the 220 and 240 Sundeck … What we will do is continue to watch this segment closely. We will certainly introduce more boats as we see opportunities to do so.
Brunswick recently consolidated some of its facilities so market demand better matches up with capacity. Do you feel you are near that goal?
Schiek: With the latest announcements, our footprint is now appropriately sized for the market in the medium term. Post consolidation, Sea Ray’s global manufacturing footprint can satisfy up to 2.5 times our current demand. We have plenty of room to grow, and we look forward to filling up our plants. We feel good. We are going to get after it to fill those plants up.