Mackey transforms Mercury

MIAMI - Mercury Marine was awarded the first J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction awards in its history at the Miami International Boat Show, a signal to the industry that the changes its president - Pat Mackey - and staff have been talking up have, in fact, delivered their intended results.

While Mercury has long been a volume leader, the J.D. Power awards, which establish its winners as customer satisfaction leaders, have eluded Mercury since their creation in 2000.

This year, Mercury ranked highest in the direct-injected two-stroke outboard segment and Mercury MerCruiser ranked highest in the electronic fuel-injected sterndrive segment.

The capture of these awards conveys the seriousness with which Mercury is taking on its challenges (as described in Boating Industry magazine's February article, No rest for the weary.)

At a press conference on Thursday, Mercury presented itself as “a company transformed.” As Mark Schwabero, president of Mercury's outboard business unit, said, “This is not longer your father's Mercury.”

Most of the “transformation” was credited to Mackey, who has been at Mercury's helm for about five years. Under his leadership, all manufacturing facilities have achieved ISO 9001-2000 certification and the company has embraced the principles of Lean Six Sigma, both of which have helped Mercury reach to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Under his leadership, Mercury has also begun building its own line of four-stroke outboard engines under the Verado brand. While there wasn't a large enough sample size to consider the Verado engines for this year's award, which is based on responses from 12,255 owners who registered a new boat between June 2004 and May 2005, representatives from J.D. Power said during the award ceremony that the results they did see from owners of boats rigged with Verado engines were “right up there with the best engines in this class.”

The industry will have to wait at least another year, however, to see whether consumers agree with the company's statement during its press conference that it is now “the four-stroke company” within the marine industry.

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