Boating Industry: How has your presence in the U.S. outboard business changed over time?
Wakabayashi: Our presence in the marketplace has changed dramatically … from a distribution company to a subsidiary now owned by Tohatsu Corp. in Japan. Through effective marketing and business strategies, we’ve seen an increase both in our product offerings and dealer network and consequently in sales.
Boating Industry: How would you describe the place the Nissan and Tohatsu brand holds within the market place vs. its competitors?
Wakabayashi: We pride ourselves in having a great, reliable engine, and we’re easier to deal with. You get a live person when you call us. We don’t force dealers to buy product they don’t need or want. Since the introduction of our 4-stroke and TLDI series, we’ve been steadily increasing our market share. Hardcore boating consumers have known about Tohatsu and its reputation among commercial fishermen for years. Our reputation for quality, reliable outboards is spreading and more and more people are considering Tohatsu outboards for their boating needs.
Boating Industry: Your competitor Mercury Marine talks a lot about ways it is trying to improve the efficiency of its engine manufacturing. Can you speak to Tohatsu’s efforts in this arena?
Wakabayashi: Tohatsu has recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Japan. This new manufacturing plant has not only allowed us to increase our production of outboards but has also allowed us to maximize efficiency through more technologically advanced machinery.
Boating Industry: What are Nissan and Tohatsu’s main goals for the future in the outboard engine market?
Wakabayashi: Our goals for the future include building a stronger presence in the marketplace by increasing our dealer network and number of OEMs. We’ve recently expanded our Tohatsu line into Canada and Puerto Rico. You can expect to see Tohatsu and Nissan Marine more than you have in the past. Our company is prepared, willing and excited about expanding our business.
— By Liz Walz