GEM reports growth

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – With its focus on the center console boat market, you might expect marine hardware manufacturer GEM Products Inc. to be reporting sales declines consistent with that sector – as much as 50 percent since 2005.

But the company is growing by increasing its market share per boat, according to GEM President Matt Bridgewater.

“Our close relationships with the OEMs are at the core of our success,” he commented in a recent interview. Supporting Bridgewater’s sentiment was the Supplier of the Year Award the company recently received from Independent Boat Builders Inc., a boat builder buying group.

“It reaffirmed our focus on partnering with the independent boat builders and finding success by paying attention to the small details on their boat – in our case, hardware – to solve problems for the end user,” he stated.

GEM’s aftermarket division, created in 2007, has been another source of company growth.

“Our marketing analysis showed us that our competitors have 40 to 50 percent of their sales in the aftermarket,” said Bridgewater. “We’ve spent our time getting closer to the OEMs. But what we missed was the aftermarket. The boat buying consumer would end up calling the boat builder to replace one of our products, but it wasn’t available for them to buy at the aftermarket level. And we’re just not set up to deal with the retail consumer.

“We launched our aftermarket program at MAATS last year. Since then, we’ve increased our aftermarket sales by three times. We’re working our way toward a better balance between aftermarket and OEM.”

While GEM’s aftermarket business has grown quite a bit since last year’s MAATS – when it consisted of less than 10 percent of its sales – Bridgewater said it will take a few years for the company to reach its goal for the division.

In the meantime, the company recently promoted two employees in its aftermarket division: Monica Krout, who now holds the title aftermarket account manager, and Annabelle Howard, who has been named as inside sales rep. Krout has worked in the sales field for over 7 years, primarily in inside sales customer relations management. Prior to accepting her current position, she held the position of inside sales key account rep. She is pursuing her Bachelors degree in Business Administration at the University of Florida. Howard’s background combines several years of customer service, facility and administrative experience, including a stint at Southco, a GEM competitor. She is attending Florida Community College of Jacksonville.

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