Industry execs discuss inventory issues

ORLANDO, Fla. — In front of several hundred people at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, nearly a half dozen industry leaders addressed inventory management issues that have plagued the marine industry for the past year and a half.

The panel included Dusty McCoy, CEO of Brunswick Corp.; Duane Kuck, CEO of Regal Marine; Phil Smoker, vice president of sales, Smoker Craft/Starcraft; Alan Bohling, president, Seattle Boat Co.; and Rod Malone, president, Sail & Ski Centers.

One area all the panelists addressed was what their companies have learned in controlling inventory in the past year.

“We have to attack at production, wholesale and retail,” McCoy of Brunswick said addressing the audience. “Our industry has to move from thinking wholesale to thinking retail. What is the consumer doing and what does the consumer want to buy?”

A key to overcoming the inventory issues is having an open dialogue between the manufacturers and dealers, McCoy continued. “We’ve been a wholesale company. We need to become a retail-focused company,” he stated. “The dealers are going to have to help us do that. We better start figuring this out because that’s going to drive our success going forward.”

Bohling of Seattle Boat added, “Cobalt has brought more of its dealers into focus groups. That dialogue has become more frequent as we’ve gotten more participants. The problem is we have a sense of where we want to go, but we’re struggling with how to get there.”

The future of inventory management is uncertain to many, but Kuck of Regal Marine shared his vision of what it will look like for the boating industry.

One way to help the inventory issue is to have more pre-sold units, he said. “Dealers aren’t going to be able to stock as many boats as in the past, but we still have to find a way to sell those boats,” he commented. “No. 1: Pre-sold strategies. We need to have more boats sold before the boats are built.”

In the more than hour-long session, moderators Matt Gruhn and Liz Walz of Boating Industry explored an array inventory topics, including lowering inventory levels at the dealership, implications of made to order boats, and inventory sharing, among others.

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