Out on a Limb

Music is a big part of boating,” says Todd Allen, the VP of sales and marketing for Prospec Electronics, a supplier of marine stereos, speakers and accessories from JBL Marine, Seaworthy, Infinity and Millenia.

That’s why, when it comes to customer satisfaction, stereos are one of boat builders’ biggest challenges. The combined marine-specific issues of water intrusion and CD mechanism failure can translate into boat owners with stereos that don’t work.

Prospec is using this challenge as an opportunity to stand out from the pack, designing solutions that give consumers new, innovative and more reliable ways to enjoy music on the water.

One such product is the company’s new MBB 319, which it started shipping in June. The “Marine Black Box” offers an AM/FM radio without a CD player.

Instead, it features a hard-drive that can hold 20 CDs and a USB port to allow users to plug in their iPods, which results in a product that works better and longer in marine applications.

The USB port also gives boat builders an opportunity to create an audio version of their owners’ manuals, which boaters can quickly and easily scroll through as needed.

In addition, the unit features a non-proprietary plug that connects to the boat’s electric system. Not only does this make installation easier for boat builders — anyone can do it, says Allen — it means a customer can easily remove the unit from the boat to bring it into a shop for repairs and then reinstall it afterward.

This new product also has been designed to allow boat builders to color-match it to the interior of the boat. This allows boat builders to provide its customers with a helm that looks professionally designed.

The stereo doesn’t appear like an afterthought, as often occurs today.

Another new product it has created is the REM 40, a stereo remote that uses radio frequency technology.

The remote is waterproof and designed to snap into the center of the steering wheel so the boat operator can control the stereo without turning their attention away from driving, much like many cars today.

The use of radio frequency technology means less wiring for the boat builders.

Integration is yet another industry trend that Prospec is helping to push forward. It has partnered with Medallion Instrumentation to produce an electronic switching system that integrates controls for boat heaters, lights, blowers, and more, with stereo controls.

“You have to step out on a limb to be on the cutting edge of technology. You can’t be a ‘me too’ company,” concludes Allen.

The results, in this case, go beyond increased sales and better OEM relationships to include delivery of a more enjoyable boating experience.

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