Last week, Craig Barrie, a name well known in the high-performance community through his involvement with Cigarette Racing Team, where he was general manager, his co-ownership and creation of the Dragon custom V-bottom brand and, later, his tenure as vice president of sales and marketing for Donzi Marine, was named the general manager of American Marine Holdings boat brands. That means Barrie oversees, and will in large part play a pivotal role in guiding the future of Baja, Donzi, Fountain and Pro-Line.
That’s a big job to be sure, especially in today’s still challenging economy. Earlier today, I caught with Barrie via telephone and asked him four questions. Here’s what he had to say
What currently is happening with production of the four American Marine Holdings boat brands?
We are finishing boats that are in the production line. This past week, we delivered a 38’ Donzi and a 35’ ZF Donzi. Last week, we delivered a Baja 26’ Outlaw. Today, we delivered a 23’ Pro-Line. We are about 90 percent finished with a Donzi 38’ ZR Comp that is going to Kuwait and about 95 percent finished with a Donzi 38 ‘ZFX boat going to the (Florida) panhandle.
Have dealers of the various brands been patient with the delivery process since the departure of Liberty Associates and subsequent legal issues?
Very patient, yes. The dealers are great. I’ve known most of them for, well, I don’t want to say how long I’ve known most of them because it makes my hair feel grayer than it is, but I’ve known most of them for a long time. They want to stick with us and ride it out. I even have a couple of new dealers for Baja saying, ‘Craig, let us know when you’re ready. We’re with you.’”
What are your goals for the lines in 2012?
Well, each line has plenty of recognition for what it is, and we want to continue that. Donzi is a boutique brand and it will continue to be a boutique brand. When production of new orders begins, we have 10 or 11 orders for Donzi models right now. On the Pro-Line side, you have a mass-built center console family-style fishing boat that has done well in its niche, where it will continue. With Baja, we have 11 great dealers who did big volume at one time, and they are waiting for product to come down the line. The plan is to introduce a new 30 Outlaw and a new 27 in the spring.
I’m just getting to know the Fountain brand—the three others I’ve had experience with and know pretty well. Excellent center console fishing boats, excellent tournament fishing boats. The fishing boats have been the No. 1 seller for Fountain. Then, of course, you have the performance boats. I have to took at those and see where we can move forward with that side of the brand, but here again I don’t know enough about the brand yet to be able to say what the plans are with performance boats yet.
For buyers who are interested in any of the brands but worried about the long-term health of American Marine Holdings, what would you say?
The products are all entrenched in the marketplace. These are four strong brands, four major brands. Consumers are going to be concerned with follow-through on warranty issues, and I understand that. We are going to stand behind every boat in the field or in dealer inventory. You have a warranty issue with a brand, you call customer service and it gets dealt with immediately. My whole career has been built on relationships with customers, and being able to support those customers.
Obviously, that is easier to say than it is to do, but I have been assured that all problems will be dealt with up front and immediately, and that’s what I’ve seen so far. I have been in this industry for a long time. I would not have put myself in this position if I didn’t physically see this to be true.”