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Commentary: Let’s Make a Go-Fast Boat Deal

Buying or selling a high-performance boat usually takes more than one party—and one boat—nowadays.

Welcome to the parade: Buying or selling a high-performance boat usually takes more than one party—and one boat—nowadays. Photo copyright/courtesy Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

Scott Shogren, the owner of Shogren Performance Marine in Waukegan, Ill., was on a roll. We were talking car to car, meaning he was driving somewhere in Illinois and I was driving somewhere in California, via mobile phone about the less-than spectacular state of the high-performance marine industry. The conversation was fast and funny, wide-ranging and, between the two of us launching one F-bomb after the next, mostly unsuitable for print—even digital print.

“I’m not in the boat business,” said Shogren. “I’m in the deal business.”

That comment actually shut me up, which is no mean feat, for a moment. Shogren loves high-performance boats. He really does. That hasn’t changed. But the industry has, and the days of someone walking into his showroom and buying a new or used high-performance boat in one simple transaction are gone, at least for now.

“Two-, three- and four-way deals are normal now,” said Shogren. “You’d be amazed.”

A few weeks later—today actually—I caught up with Terry Sobo, the director of sales for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats in Cape Coral, Fla. During our conversation, which was a lot like the one I had with Shogren minus the F-bombs (it was too early in the morning for those, I think), I mentioned what Shogren had said about the deal business. Sobo laughed and agreed.

“It’s almost like being in a major league sport,” he said. “You can’t just make a trade, you have to line up all the planets and trade three or four players. Sometimes, you have to sell two or three used boats just to sell one new one. You have to be very creative, and everything is against you. Financing is tough, and existing boats are worth half of what their owners usually think they are. You don’t want to offend anybody, but you have to be creative to get the deal done.”

So what does this have to do with you? Simply this: If you’re selling your high-performance boat, be prepared to deal and get creative. That’s coming from two of the best people at making such deals in the industry.

They’d love it to be more simple. They’d love it to be the way it was. But it’s not.