Chris-Craft and Donzi report strong 2004 sales

MANATEE, Fla. - While unit sales were up nearly 6 percent for the industry as a whole during the first nine months of 2004, two Florida boat manufacturers posted even more impressive results last year. Chris-Craft Boats and Donzi Marine each saw a sales increase of at least 15 percent, the Brandenton Herald reported in a story yesterday.

Chris-Craft Boats, a manufacturer of sterndrive powerboats, posted a slightly more than 15-percent increase in sales for 2004, which company officials attributed to new products, among other things.

"This is due in part to three new models introduced last year," Chris-Craft spokesperson Meghan Stout told the newspaper.

Chris-Craft introduced the Corsair 36, a 36-foot runabout with express cruiser accommodations, the Roamer 40, a 40-foot express cruiser, and the Speedster, a 20-foot runabout. The company produces about seven Speedsters per week, and one to two each of the Corsair 36 and Roamer 40 per month, Stout told the Herald.

Josh Stickler, vice president of marketing for Donzi Marine, which manufactures high-performance powerboats, told the newspaper his company estimated that 2004 sales increased at least 15 percent.

"In late 2003, there was an upturn in the market for us," Stickler said. "It continued throughout 2004, which is why we're adding new models."

Like Chris-Craft, Donzi unveiled three new models last year: the 38 ZR and 43 ZR, two high-performance powerboats, and the 38 ZF, a center-console powerboat.

Five years ago, the average length of Donzi's boats was 28 feet; today, the average length is 35 feet and growing. The company opened a 70,000-square-foot space last fall to keep up with production, the Herald reported.

"Our units (sold) have increased and the size of our units has increased exponentially," Stickler said.

Retail sales up too

The newspaper also reported increased sales at several Florida boat retailers. Sara Bay Marina in Sarasota sold approximately 75 new boats in 2004, about 15 percent more than in 2003. The business sells power boats made by Chris-Craft, Cobalt and Chaparral, among others.

Sales at Perico Boat Sales in Bradenton rose between 10 and 15 percent in 2004. At Action Jet Sports Inc. in Bradenton, owner Jack O'Neill estimates that sales rose about 10 percent in 2004, the newspaper reported.

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