Just got off the phone with Peter Hledin, the straight-talking founder and owner of Douglas Marine/Skater in Douglas, Mich. Hledin is one of the people I go to for honest answers to hard questions, and I respect him as much as anyone in the high-performance marine industry.
With a few performance-boat builders such as Cigarette Racing Team reporting reasonable—though down from previous years—sales and one, Marine Technology, Inc., reporting record-setting business since the end of 2009, I wanted Hledin’s take on what, if anything, is happening at the upper end of the market. He said that legitimate buyers are still out there. He also said that they’re taking their time with purchase decisions in a way he’s never seen before.
“We have 20 or so people we know who are eventually going to buy boats,” he told me. “They’re just being very careful. Closing deals is harder than it’s ever been.”
John Cosker of Mystic Performance Boats expressed the same sentiment when I spoke to him during the Desert Storm event in April.
“We have plenty of interest and inquiries,” he said. “It’s just really hard to get people to actually sign checks.”