Lowe Boats uses pool program to drive improvement

Coming up in our June issue, you’ll find our latest trends taking a look at the freshwater fishing boat segment.

As part of that article, I talked to David Kirkland, vice president at Lowe Boats and as often happens with interviews, there’s plenty of good stuff that’ll never make the pages of the magazine.

One of those items was the Missouri boat builder’s “Pool Program.” Now in it’s third year, the program allows any of Lowe’s 300 employees to borrow a boat from the company for nothing but the cost of gas. This year, there are 12 boats of different types and sizes in the pool.

But it’s not just a nice employee benefit — it’s also about making the product better.

“It’s a nice little perk for our employees, but what we do is we interview the people whenever they’re done with the boats, ask them about their experience, did you have fun, what did you like, what did you not like, what can we improve?” Kirkland said. “It helps us improve our boats everyday.”

Improvements have included changes such as console sizes and seat heights. The program also helps employees, especially those that may not be as familiar with boating, understand more about what they do, and their role in the company. It builds pride and is easily worth the investment.

“They’re buying into this because they build these boats themselves,” Kirkland said. “Boats get beat up somewhat, but the input we get back out of them, plus giving the employees a chance to go out and play with what they built, raises the morale and makes the pool worthwhile.”

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