As most sectors of the boating industry prepare for what many are predicting will be another flat year, the cleaning and maintenance sector is expecting a banner year, with some companies forecasting record sales.
The reason for the optimistic outlook is that people take better care of their boats during challenging and uncertain economic times, when they may not be able to foresee the purchase of a new boat.
This has benefited the cleaning and maintenance sector of the industry for the last few years, and many expect the good times to continue.
Boat cleaning tool manufacturer Shurhold Industries Inc. saw between 10 and 20 percent growth in 2002, according to company president Barry Berhoff. While he said the company, which is in its 30th year, has seen sales growth every year it has been in business, he admitted that Shurhold benefits from its customers’ tendency to pay more attention to cleaning and maintenance during challenging economic times.
Mike Taylor, president of boat wax and cleaning solution manufacturer Collinite, said his company saw an increase in sales of about 8 percent in 2002, which he considers a good year.
Taylor said he’s expecting 5-percent growth in sales this year. “We’ll be happy if it’s 10 [percent],” he added.
In 2002, Spray Nine Corp., which manufactures marine cleaning products, reported sales figures almost double that of 2001, said Mike Hauser, national sales manager. However, not all of that can be attributed to market growth, he explained. The company has seen some results from its efforts to gain better distribution through major retailers and two-step distributors.
In 2003, Spray Nine expects to see sales improvement over 2002 as the company continues to improve its distribution and introduce more environmentally friendly products, Hauser added.
MPS Products Inc., which offers boat cleaning tools under the Swobbit System brand, hasn’t seen the downturn in business that many other sectors of the marine industry have experienced, said MPS President George Varga. However, the company has noticed some consumers shying away from higher priced goods and retail buyers focusing more on price than quality.
Varga is enthusiastic about the company’s performance in 2003, due in part to MPS’ involvement in multiple markets.
“We’re experiencing a slower growth rate in marine than in other markets,” Varga commented, something he expects will change over time.
While he predicts the second half of 2003 will show improvement for the industry, he warned that such improvement depends on world events, such as whether the United States goes to war with Iraq.
With growth comes improvement
With growth often comes investment into such areas as staffing, automation and manufacturing capacity. Though Collinite’s recent growth in sales hasn’t forced it to expand yet, Taylor said the company hopes to add manufacturing and warehouse space this summer.
Shurhold doesn’t have immediate plans to expand; however, with its year-on-year growth has come continued improvement in areas such as manufacturing, said Berhoff.
For example, the company purchased a new machine to manufacture brushes a few years ago. Not only has the machine reduced the brush rejection rate to almost zero, it also has increased production capacity by about 10 times its previous rate, giving the company room for growth in the future, he explained.
Looking forward, the company may see further growth through its current efforts to expand and strengthen its support for Shurhold dealers outside the United States.
Berhoff said about 30 percent of the company’s business currently consists of exports, mostly to Europe. However, the company is interested in expanding its international presence “anywhere there is opportunity,” he added.
Mass merchandising poses a challenge
One of the biggest shakeups in the cleaning and maintenance segment in recent years was the entrance of 3M into the boat care arena in 1993. However, Collinite, a small US manufacturer serving mostly mom-and-pop boat dealers and marinas, said 3M’s entrance didn’t have the effect that was expected on his company.
This may be in part because 3M is targeting the retail giants, like Wal-Mart, a market that Collinite has not explored. 3M Marine Market Development Supervisor Linda Bailey said doing business with the Wal-Marts of the world has its own challenges.
“We have become category managers and retail experts to earn and keep space on mass merchandisers’ shelves,” she explained.
While the marine mass merchants, like West Marine, aren’t there yet, according to Bailey, they’re not far behind.
In addition to mass retailers, 3M also does a large share of its boat care business with boat builders, which made 2001 a tough year for the company as many boat builders employed drastic cut backs. While Bailey said that 2002 was a good year in comparison, she expects the marine channel to be flat in 2003.
“Any growth will come from building better relationships and taking share,” she explained.
Environmental issues force change for some
Collinite’s Taylor said that his company’s products haven’t changed much over the company’s 67-year history. Because their main fiberglass cleaning compound is natural – made from finely crushed seashells – the company hasn’t had to face environmental issues.
Other companies haven’t been so lucky, however. Bailey said 3M has had to reformulate its products to meet new low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other regulatory requirements and redesign its packaging to reduce the amount of plastic. 3M tries to stay ahead of the regulations to reduce the impact of making the necessary changes, she added.
Spray Nine also has been forced to address these regulations, said Hauser. In response, the boat care solution manufacturer dropped products high in VOCs, such as waxes, and went looking for more environmentally friendly products.
This search has paid off, Hauser stated. The company has been successful in developing the first water-based, nonflammable, biodegradable marine degreaser, Grez-Off, and creating a biodegradable boat soap called Gold’n Shine. In addition, Spray Nine recently launched a boat bottom cleaner that contains oxalic and phosphoric acid, rather than hydrochloric acid.
Trends drive the industry forward
One area in which the industry has changed in recent years is consolidation in the retail sector, said Varga of MPS.
“Retailers are always looking to reduce the number of vendors they have,” he explained. “This is both good and bad. Retailers are missing the boat by their reluctance to carry the ‘hot’ items from smaller manufacturers. A company with one, two or 10 good products may not make it into the stores.”
At the same time, MPS has fewer competitors offering cleaning gear because many manufacturers have gotten out due to such factors as lack of margin and obsolete products.
Varga said another trend has been toward systems rather than individual items. MPS responded to this trend by offering its products as part of the Swobbit System.
3M has seen demand for products that allow consumers to spend less time cleaning and more time boating, such as longer-lasting solutions that are easier to apply and remove, said Bailey. Along the same line, consumers are more likely to hire out the cleaning and maintenance of their boats to save time, she added.
In response to these trends, 3M has formulated its products to be easy on and off and to last longer, with ergonomic packaging, and has developed cleansers that work with a garden hose to make cleaning jobs simpler.
— By Liz Walz
3M Marine Multi-Purpose Boat Soap is one of a range of boat care products from 3M. Its concentrated formula is designed to clean grease, oil, grime, algae, fish, blood and dirt on hulls, decks, upholstery, canvas, carpet and engines. The soap concentrate is mixed with water for the users’ desired cleaning strength. 3M Marine; 888/364-3577; www.mmm.com.
Island Girl Products Inc.
Sea Glow, one of many products offered as part of the Island Girl System, removes gumminess, kills oxidation, prevents color fade and restores original whiteness to older vinyl or fiberglass gelcoat that has become yellowed, according to the company. The system also includes Mirror Hard Superglaze, which can be quickly wiped over a new boat to preserve the new look, and Island Girl Non-Skid Sealant, which seals and protects non-skid decks against oxidation, mildew and staining by contaminants, among other products. Island Girl Products, P.O. Box 660, Honolulu, HI 96809; 800/441-4425; www.islandgirlproducts.com.
Cooler Grips From FSI
Cooler Grips from Fastening Solutions Inc. (FSI) were developed so fishermen wouldn’t need to worry about a cooler full of bait sliding around the cockpit while they are trying to reel in a big catch. Plenty of fish or bait can be stored inside a 64-quart cooler that is held with one Cooler Grip kit. Two kits can hold a 94-quart cooler and each kit contains two 15-inch locking straps and four buckle fasteners. The heavy-duty fastening system is designed for a two-corner attachment. The fasteners are attached to the side of the cooler with 3M Marine adhesive and four self-tapping, stainless-steel screws. Quick release locks open easily to remove the cooler. Fastening Solutions Inc., 19458 Ventura Blvd., Suite 6, Tarzana, CA 91356; 818/996-1977; www.fasteningsolutions.com.
KVH Super Antenna
The TracVision G8 carbon fiber satellite TV antenna is housed within a dome which, at a height of 39 inches, is 35-percent smaller than competing satellite TV antennas of similar reception strength, according to KVH Industries Inc. TracVision G8 is equipped with automatic skew control, fiber optic gyro (FOG) stabilization, a user-friendly interface, high-speed Internet compatibility and integrated Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) tracking. KVH Industries, 50 Enterprise Center; Middletown, RI 02842; 401/847-3327.
Glendinning Marine Products Inc. has introduced the HoseMaster water hose management system for the yacht market for use in situations where space and dependability are concerns. The HoseMaster’s power retraction and storage capability makes water hose storage effortless, according to Glendinning. The HoseMaster was designed to be 11 inches wide and weigh under 23 pounds. It also includes the “levelwind feature,” which automatically places the water hose into the spool in a uniform manner. Glendinning Marine Products Inc., 740 Century Circle, Conway, SC 29526; 843/399-6146;
Indiana-based Audiovox Specialized Applications (ASA) recently introduced a 22-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) Flat Panel monitor that is the only 12-volt DC version of its size on the market. It is cable ready with a TV tuner, V-chip/closed caption, on-screen display with three A/V (audio/video) inputs in addition to the TV function. ASA Electronics, 23319 Cooper Drive, Elkhart, IN 46514; 800/688-3135; www.ASAelectronics.com.
Accon Marine Inc., inventor of the Pop-Up Cleat, introduces the Slim Line and the Wide Line Cleat. The Slim Line has a sleek, narrow design that installs where other cleats won’t fit. The Wide Line Cleat has a wider base and a large flange to help disguise rough cutout spots and flaws. Accon Marine Inc., 13665 Automobile Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33762; 727/572-9202;
Sea-Dog Corp. offers stainless steel engine controls made with highly polished investment cast 316 stainless steel housings. All inner working components also are stainless-steel. New elongated black and red control knobs also are included. The red knob has a knurl finish for easy identification in the dark. Sea-Dog Corp., P.O. Box 479, 3402 Smith, Everett, WA 98206; 425/259-0194; www.sea-dog.com.
Manart Shock Cord Clips
Manart-Hirsch is offering new Ultimate Shock Cord Clips the company says are perfect for fastening down tonneau covers and cockpit covers. Instead of using grommets or fasteners that don’t keep tension on the cover, simply install the shock cord clips that are already cut to length and you have a neat, professional, finished look. Manart-Hirsch Co., 314 Hendrickson Ave., Lynbrook, NY 11563; 516/887-1133.
MarineEast Hose Adapters
MarineEast has introduced new male and female Garden Hose Adapters to provide convenience in most situations, especially for wash-downs. Made of marine-grade composite, the Garden Hose Adapters range in size from 5/8-inch to 1-1/2 inch and their pipe threads are designed to fit standard garden hose sizes. MarineEast, 802 Mantoloking Rd., Brick, NJ 08723; 732/477-7484; www.marineeast.com.
Beckson Marine Inc. introduced the Vent-O-Mate vent to prevent interior spaces from becoming a breeding ground for mildew and musty odors. A 6 mph wind moving over the open grill on top can remove 350 cubic feet of stale air per hour, enough to completely exchange the air in a 30-foot sailboat in one hour. When its 12-volt motor is turned on, the Vent-O-Mate, which has two operating speeds, will exhaust 3,240 cubic feet of air per hour, making it ideal for heads, galleys and forepeaks. Installation of the Vent-O-Mate requires the cutting of a 4-inch diameter hole and it can be installed over an anchor locker to help dry wet lines. It is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel with a clear shield on top to allow light to enter. Beckson Marine Inc., 165 Holland Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06605; www.beckson.com.
Davis Deck Plate Key
Davis Instruments has developed the Universal Deck Plate Key, a pocket-sized key that fits all deck plate caps, hex bolts and screws, eliminating the often aggravating search for the right tool while refueling or filling a water tank. It fits slotted-, raised lug-, spaced hole- and star- (winch handle) type caps. Its 5/16-inch and 7/16-inch built-in hex sizes can handle common-sized hose clamps and bolts. It also features a shackle key with wide, flat edges that allows for good hand leverage, a flat screwdriver for working in tight places and a bottle opener. The stainless steel key will not corrode. Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Ave, Hayward, CA 94545; email@example.com.
Johnson Flat Halyard Kits
Johnson Marine offers three Flag Halyard Kits for the owners of powerboats with tuna towers or steadying masts. The unit of the C. Sherman Johnson Co. also offers backstay and spreader halyards for sailboats. The tuna tower halyard kit accommodates towers with tube diameters of 7/8 inches to 1.5 inches and includes a 40-inch polyester line, a block with a rail mount, a cleat for rail mounting and two bronze snaps. For sailboaters, the backstay model includes 40 inches of 3/16-inch diameter polyester line, a block with wire rope clamp, a cleat with wire rope clamp and two bronze snaps. It attaches to a 5/32-inch and 3/8-inch diameter wire or rod. The spreader halyard kit also includes 40 inches of polyester line plus a block with bail and a shroud cleat. Johnson Marine, Box L, East Haddam, CT 06423; 860/873-8697; www.csjohnson.com.
TMP Dock Hardware
TMP Products of Port Jefferson Station, New York, offers a full line of dock hardware made from 1/4-inch steel that is galvanized after fabrication. It also offers a full line pile hoops, 44 different sizes of float drums, cleats, fender guards and all of the times needed to build floating docks. Call 631/473-0382.
Garelick Seat System
Garelick Manufacturing is offering a new mid-range pedestal seat system engineered for optimal performance and comfort. The new series of 3.5-inch diameter stanchion pedestals are proportionately up scale for added strength and styling for boats 30 feet and larger. Ideal for larger seat helm installation, Garelick’s new Mid Range Pedestal Seat System comes in either fixed heights or the Bluewater Adjustable Height Positive Pin System secures at specific height in 1-inch increments. A detachable solid stanchion plate is also available.
Each of the three fixed heights and two adjustable heights available accommodates all Garelick/EEz-In Seat Slide and Swivel Spiders. The new Mid-Range Pedestal Seat System is made of polished and anodized components and has a protective finish to help prevent saltwater corrosion and weathering and has a 10.5-inch, 6-hole mounting base. It fits all Garelick 2 7/8-inch diameter, 360 degree spiders and fore and aft slides. Garelick Mfg. Co., 644 2nd Street, P.O. Box 8, St. Paul Park, MN 55071; 651/459-9795; www.garelick.com.
Outwater Knobs & Pulls
Outwater Plastics Industries has expanded in cabinet and furniture hardware lines with an extensive new collection of unique Contemporary, Vintage and Traditional knobs and pulls. They are available in a vast assortment of unique style, shapes, sizes, materials and finishes to suit the genre of the application as well as varied individual tastes. Color pictorials and ordering information is available on the company’s Web site. Outwater Plastics Industries Inc., 4 Passaic Street, Wood Ridge, NJ 07075; 800/631-8375; www.outwater.com.
MarineEast Bimini Hinges
Four new styles of bimini hinges now are available through MarineEast. All are made of high-grade marine plastic which MarineEast believes is better than aluminum. The four styles include Top, U Bracket, Top Mount Swivel and Plug-in Bimini Top Hinges. The precision-fit hole for positive locking can be used with either a screw or pop rivet. The rattle-resistant hinges are UV-stabilized and even fit older boats. They are available in black or silver in 1-inch, 11/8 inch and 11/4-inch sizes. MarineEast, 802 Mantoloking Rd., Brick, NJ 08723; 732/477-7484; www.marineeast.com.
Vicar International has recently released its new V-Line Fastener brochure. It features snap fasteners, turnbuckles, one-way fasteners, baby snaps, military black snaps, 100 percent stainless steel snaps and screw studs, plastic snap fasteners, curtain fasteners, enameled caps in 19 colors, 23K gold plated snap fasteners and screw studs and a variety of attaching tools. Vicar International, P.O. Box 1767, Union, NJ 07083; 908/964-1200.
Tool Leash From FSI
The Tool Leash from Fastening Solutions Inc. keeps tools protected on any job where they can be dropped, lost or damaged. The simple, snap-on device uses a 5-inch plastic coiled leash that stretches to arm’s length in use. Swivel snap hooks at the end of the leash snap on and off tool rings that are attached and remain on a variety of hand tools, power tools and parts of almost any size and shape. The Tool Leash is secured with a carabiner-type snap hook for attachment to a tool belt, lifeline, rigging or harness, according to FSI. The swivel snap-hooks quickly snap on and off the tool rings for multiple tool selection, while preventing the leash from twisting or wrapping. Fastening Solutions Inc., 19458 Ventura Blvd., Suite 6, Tarzana, CA 91356; 818/996-1977; www.fasteningsolutions.com.
Dr. Shrink Recycling Kit
Dr. Shrink has introduced the REBAG recycling kit for boaters wanting to recycle used shrinkwrap at the beginning of a new boating season. The REBAG kit includes a 30-inch by 50-inch clear bag with removal directions printed on it, a closure device for the bag and a prepaid UPS return label. Each REBAG can hold the cover for a 26-foot powerboat, or about 600 square feet. The full REBAG can be taken to a UPS or Mailboxes USA facility for shipment to Dr. Shrink, allowing for the reuse of the LDPE resin material, which otherwise would remain in landfills forever. Dr. Shrink Inc., 1606 State Street, Manistee, MI 49660; 800/968-5147;
Among the products offered by Collinite are its Liquid Fiberglass Boat Cleaner and Fiberglass Boat Wax. The company claims the cleaner easily removes dirt, film, oxidation, oil, grease, rust and exhaust stains from fiberglass finishes while restoring the original color quickly without hard rubbing or buffing. The wax goes on easy and stays on all season for a wipe and shine deck, glistening topsides and a super-slippery bottom. Collinite, 1520 Lincoln Ave., Utica, NY 13502; 315/732-2282.
FORMULA FIVE Clean ‘N Glaze by REXCO is a mild buffing compound that removes weathering oxidation from gel-coated products. A mold cleaner/conditioner for fiberglass production, Clean ‘N Glaze is also used as a cleaner by manufacturers and retailers of fiberglass boats, cultured marble and hydro service boom trucks. REXCO, P.O. Box 80996, Conyers, Georgia 30013-8996; 800/888-1060 or 770/483-7610; www.rexco-usa.com.
Manart’s Aqua-View cleaner and polish is manufactured for flexible PVC clear vinyl windows in bimini enclosures and side curtains. It seals pores in vinyl and leaves a protective coating. The anti-static and anti-fog formula removes most marks from paint over-spray, markers, crayons, glue residue, etc. It also protects against future deterioration of windows. Manart-Hirsch Co., 314 Hendrickson Ave., Lynbrook, NY 11563; 516/887-1133.
Zap mold, mildew, dirt and algae stains from virtually every boat surface with Iosso’s Mold and Mildew Stain Remover. Just apply the solution to soiled areas to quickly remove stains from vinyl, plastic, canvas, carpeting, wood, fiberglass, painted surfaces, sails and accessories. This gentle formula is safe on fabrics and colors, in non-chlorine and biodegradable, according to Iosso. Iosso Products, 1485 Lively Blvd., Elk Grove, IL 60007; 847/437-8400; www.iosso.com.
Shurhold Industries offers DIP AND GO, a non-abrasive scrubbing pad that makes swabbing down the hull and deck quick and easy. Instead of digging through the storage compartment for cleaning solutions, mops and buckets, the user only needs to dip the pad in the water and go to work. Encapsulated with non-toxic, biodegradable Simple Green degreaser/cleaner, the DIP AND GO pad attaches to any of Shurhold's telescoping or fixed length handles. Shurhold Industries, 3119 SW 42nd Ave., Palm City, FL 34990-5558; 800/962-6241; www.shurhold.com.
Spray Nine Corp.
The Spray Nine Marine Boat Bottom Cleaner is a unique “gel formula” cleaner developed with special thickening agents that cling fast to penetrate deep. Boat Bottom Cleaner cuts through boat fouling, oil slick, algae and rust stains above and below the water line. The icy-blue, user-friendly gel contains no hydrochloric acid, making it appropriate for the do-it-yourselfer. Spray Nine Corp., 251 North Comrie Ave., Johnstown, NY 12095; 800/477-7299; www.knightmkt.com.
MPS Products Inc.
The Swobbit Watercraft Cleaning System from MPS Products offers more than 20 highly efficient tools designed to make cleaning chores quicker and easier. The Swobbit System offers the Perfect Pole telescoping handle, Swobbit System Premium Deck Brushes, the Swobbit System Soft Washing Tool, Swobbit System’s Quik Dry Water Blade, as well as Aquazorber drying mops, cloths and scrubbers. Swobbit, P.O. Box 9271, Jupiter, FL 33458; 800/762-9873 or 561/745-9005; www.swobbit.com.