Innovation sells

It’s one of those questions you get asked a lot covering this industry: What kind of boat do you have?

And when I answer, you can almost see the physical pain in the questioner’s eyes, especially if they’re a boat manufacturer.

Why? Because my answer is always the same: We’ve got two boats (not counting sail, canoes, etc.) — a 1985 Four Winns Horizon 180 and an even older Landau aluminum fishing boat. They’re boats my parents bought when I was a kid and they’re what my family uses now.

If you take good care of a boat, it’ll last you a long time and that’s the challenge for our industry. And the reality is there just isn’t enough innovation to make many people buy a new boat. Living in Minnesota, I know a lot of people who own 20 or 30-year-old boats because nobody has given them a good reason to upgrade. What’s going to excite them?

I always think of something Roch Lambert told me a couple of years ago (in my very first interview for Boating Industry, actually) talking about why the new Rec Boats Holdings was so focused on design: “For most boats today, if you peel off the name I challenge you to tell me which is which.”

Now, I’m not the target audience for the Sea Ray L-Class, but this is a great example of what I’m talking about. On Wednesday, Sea Ray announced they’re going to have to increase production and hire employees to meet demand for the L-Class. It’s bringing something new to the market — a reimagined yachting experience.

We’ve similar results from Sportsman with its successful fishing line; Chaparral with the H2O line; Nautique with the G series , to name just a few.

People are hungry for new and innovative — we just have to give it to them.

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