US Marine makes its turnaround

Lost in all the industry talk of the dumping debate, Verado engines, vertical integration and a decline in the company’s aluminum boat sales has been an enormous success story for Brunswick – the turnaround of the US Marine division’s business.

In the late 90s, business took a turn for the worse for US Marine’s Bayliner, Trophy and Maxum brands. The decline in unit sales caused plant closures, layoffs and executive-level personnel changes.

Thanks to a new focus, lots of research, and the motivation of key people, the company returned to profitability in 2004 for the first time since 1999. It was an earnings report recognition that had little resounding effect on industry ears — among all the other news of Brunswick’s recent endeavors, but it’s one that has the Brunswick Boat Group beaming with pride.

Boating Industry magazine spent time with the US Marine group at its annual press introduction last fall. And while you can read the entire article, complete with a timeline of the turnaround, of the division’s return to profitability in the March issue of Boating Industry, you can see from the following interview excerpt that US Marine isn’t content in just returning to profitability.

According to Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dave Taylor, the company is focused on the future, sharpening and growing its product offerings and working closely with its dealers in an effort to expand its customer base. Boating Industry monthly or annual subscribers can see the full transcript of the interview with Dave Taylor by clicking here. The following is an excerpt from that interview.

Boating Industry Let’s talk about the future. There are lots of new models coming in the next five years. Is that the future for US Marine? To fill those white space gaps and keep existing models up to date every 3-4 years?

Dave Taylor Yes, three years on runabouts, 5 years on cruisers and fish boats. That’s the product segment of our overall plan, but it’s just one piece of the plan. We’ve recognized that we look across portfolio management in a different view. We’re looking at all of our brands and cannibalization. We don’t want to build a boat that is going to take away sales from a boat we already build or that the Brunswick Boat Group builds. So we’re doing it much smarter we believe, and through this effort with Digitas and looking at customer segmentations, we’ve found those types of holes that we can go and fill in. So from a product perspective we feel very comfortable about where we are going and what we need to do.

Now we have to really get busy supporting dealers to get ready to take this product to market. And that’s why we started to talk to them about our 5-year plan and what’s coming. Now we need to talk about the things we need to do to make it happen. We also know that you only win market-by-market. You can’t come out with some national thing that makes everything OK, because somebody in Wichita, Kans., has different needs than someone in New York City. We have to attack it market-by-market and lay plans for each of those markets with local marketing support and national marketing umbrella over the top of that to fit it all together.

So, yes, we’re committed to the product and we are also committed to helping our dealers lay plans out to support that into the marketplace. Showing them the benefit of, “If we do this together, this is what it will mean in terms of volume and profitability.”

There are a lot of other things we are concentrated on, which is revenue around the sale. Big, big opportunity. We know for every new boat sold, about 10-15 percent more revenue is generated from a trade in and then a used boat sale. [PG & A is] a huge opportunity. That’s why the Boat Group has gotten into buying Atwood and Land & Sea for all those different elements. So we want to start to bring a full complete marine plan to our dealer to work with them to really expand and improve the ownership experience through all of these different resources. At the same time improving their revenue and profitability.

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