In 2015, Indmar, in partnership with Ford, introduced the ROUSH-charged Raptor engine to the inboard market, winning several industry awards, including being selected one of Boating Industry’s Top Products of the Year.
In 2016, Indmar is expanding the Raptor line to new market segments. We talked to some of the Indmar product development team – vice president Scott Clack, vice president of engineering Jason Stimmel and design engineer Rachel Masburn – about the new engines, and its new accessory, the Strainer Pro, which won an innovation award at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.
You can read the full Q&A in the April issue of Boating Industry.
Boating Industry: So last year, you introduced the Raptor engine, and now you’re expanding it to the cruiser and jet segment. What’s driving that decision?
Clack: The short answer was that if we’re getting into other markets, cruisers seemed to be a perfect fit. If you look at the 6.2 and the performance of it … it’s diesel performance in a gasoline engine. We thought this would be really nice, even as far as a retrofit if you’re looking for repower, not just an OEM product.
The ski boat/wake boat segment is pretty compressed when you start looking at the players in it. …
All of our OEMs … are all on board with the engine now and it’s proven to be a really strong performer. So we look at that segment and arguably it’s pretty saturated right now, so what else makes sense?
You look at the jet boat market … and they were asking for it.
We took a pretty aggressive stance in going up into the Northwest and getting a foothold there, setting up shop up there and we have a service station and tech and warehouse up there.
Boating Industry: What are you learning in those markets?
Clack: [Jet boats] are a different market for us … they’re a lot more technical. These guys are people that like to work on the product, they want to know about it. They understand the engine, but they also want to know that you’re going to be there for them.
Now, moving into 2016, there’s a lot of positive feedback, we’re starting to get a lot more calls, a lot more interest.
Cruiser is something we’re going to continue to work at. We understand the market is pretty flat right now, but we look at what does this engine bring to that segment? We think this is a great opportunity to bring new technology to that market.
Boating Industry: What do you think are the advantages you’re offering in that market?
One is gasoline prices are dropping and you’ve got performance in the 6.2 product. You’ve got better fuel economy now, you’ve got a quieter engine, you’ve got performance that brings those torque values in. It’s a great package and price is a huge differentiator, as compared to a diesel-powered product.
We’re going to dip our toe in the water. Our passion is boating, and all aspects of it. Our heritage has been in the water ski and wake business, but we’re all boaters. We just want to be out on the water and we think there’s opportunity with these products.
The wake and water ski segment tends to drive innovation, it’s more accepted. We’ve proven ourselves to the industry, it’s a brand that’s well known, it’s a brand that speaks quality and service and we think that can translate over to the cruiser market.
Boating Industry: Let’s talk about the Strainer Pro. How did that come about?
Clack: This goes back to one of the key challenges we have. We think we build a very good, quality, purpose-built product. We provide the product to the OEM, we work with them on the install, but we don’t have a lot of control over the engine after it leaves our factory.
We require certain water flow and air flow and all the things you need in that package, but honestly we’re not sitting there auditing every single engine. Water flow is a key component. You put a part between the water pickup and the engine itself in the sea strainer that is arguably suspect … that’s a key area. All of the sudden, you’ve got engine issues.
I can tell you, it’s cost us tens of thousands of dollars over the years trying to chase down what a problem might be. So these guys said, “Look, we can make one of these things. Why don’t we design our own?”
This group put it together, and the design came from Rachel. She wasn’t an engine geek, didn’t know about engines. She didn’t know any better, which is really kind of neat. She didn’t know that it can’t be done, or you shouldn’t do that, so she had a whole different approach.
Masburn: It was incredible that we were able to do that, that the company gave me that opportunity because at the time I was pretty green. They let me go with it and now we’ve got the innovation award to take back. … They said, this is what we needed to do, and we figured it out. It’s a great team, helping each other out all the time and that’s why we’re able to [create] these products. … Jason just does a great job of letting us go, and I can say “Let’s just try this and see what happens.” Sometimes I realize something is a terrible idea, but sometimes it works.
Clack: We went into an area that was kind of unique for us, bringing parts and accessories to the market, but I think that’s a direction you’ll start seeing more of from Indmar, looking outside the engine and at the system as a whole.
There’s a new energy at our company. We spent years and a lot of resources both financially and with our employees to bring Ford back to the market and we took a huge chance. We bet the company on it and it’s proven to be the right thing to do.