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Commentary: Center Console Futures

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So this afternoon I caught up with Scott Sjogren of Pier 57 Marine—the nation’s leading dealer of new and pre-owned high-performance boats—in Gurnee, Ill. Sjogren was driving just outside of Calhoun, Ga., on his way to this weekend’s Pirates of Lanier Poker Run (read the most recent speedonthewater.com preview story) to run with his customer Mark Godsey, who bought a 38-foot Marine Technology Inc. catamaran with twin 1,100-hp Mercury Racing engines from Pier 57 a year-and-a-half ago.

“I like this run,” Sjogren told me. “John Woodruff (one of the event’s key organizers) does a good job and he does it for all the right reasons.”

Eventually, our conversation drifted, as it usually does, to the custom go-fast powerboat market. When it comes to current and even future trends in the market, Sjogren is a great source of information. He doesn’t tell me the way he’d like things to be, at least he hasn’t during the 15-plus years I’ve known him. He tells me what he sees, even if it he doesn’t like how it looks.

As in past interviews, I asked him about the sustainability of the center console segment in the custom high-performance boat world. And I asked him if he thought the demand for performance-oriented center consoles was tailing off.

“Not at all, but I do believe it’s evolving,” said Sjogren. “I believe that high-performance, luxury center consoles are the future of the business. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet.”

I asked him to elaborate. After all, I said, if I had a dime for everyone I’d heard or read declare the custom go-fast center console market “oversaturated” with the likes of models form Cigarette Racing TeamDeep ImpactMidnight ExpressMTINor-TechStatement Marine and Sunsation Boats, I’d have a lot dimes and some easy money.

Sjogren laughed and agreed.

“We haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” he said again. “I think a lot of customers who own traditional high-performance catamarans and V-bottoms are trying to figure ways to get out of those boats and into center consoles. If you look at the median age of owners on the performance boat industry, it’s elevated quite a bit in the last few years. Those people are looking for alternative ways to go boating, and they will fall into the luxury performance center console market because of the comfort, amenities, reliability and warranties. Luxury performance center consoles are the future.”

“When you look at center consoles 30 feet and under, there’s a lot of builders in that business,” he added. “But the custom performance center console market is very young and, from the standpoint of builders, still very small.”

Despite the considerable respect Sjogren has for the Cigarette’s 42′ Huntress (“That’s an amazing piece,” he said), MTI‘s innovative, patented-hull 42-footer he called a “unique piece of equipment” and the various hot-ticket center consoles from Nor-Tech (“They’ve done a great job,” he said), he maintained there is a demand for something even more elaborate and luxurious.

“There is definitely demand for what I’ll call a ‘Range Rover’ in the performance center console segment—something that comes standard with so many amenities that all the buyer really has to do is pick colors,” he said.

And Sjogren said he believes there is room for more than one player in that market.

“As a sales person and a boat dealer, I would like to think that all the custom manufacturers will start building a luxury performance center console in the very near future,” he said. “Because I know there is a demand for them and someone is going to fill it.”

Above photo courtesy Deep Impact Boats

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