As the high-performance marine industry faces new challenges, many companies will be putting their best foot forward to continue to advance the sport over the coming years. There are a lot of questions surrounding our market, so we thought now was as good a time as ever to sit down with nine of the most knowledgeable and respected people in the business to get their thoughts on the immediate future and the most pressing issues facing this industry.
Each weekday from Jan. 9 through Jan. 19, we’ll bring you another panel member’s answers from this nine-part Industry Focus Group feature. Not quite ready to dive into the New Year? Check out our list of the biggest stories of 2011.
President, Formula Boats
Do you expect to see positive industry progress in 2012?
I am hopeful that there will be some industry progress in 2012. However, I expect there to be plenty of distractions with the elections and continued volatility in the oil and stock markets to cause ups and downs in consumer sentiment. Presently we are seeing several news reports of positive economic movement. The Consumer Sentiment Index was up for November (although still down from 2010), auto sales are doing well and exports have been up, too. If these improvements lift the GDP then the boating industry should benefit in 2012. Interest rates continue to remain low, providing great opportunities for financing a new boat purchase. This is truly a great time to get a fantastic value.
How can you attract new buyers when so many are being cautious with their spending?
By keeping our offerings exciting and providing a high-quality experience. We are always working on new graphics, both design and color. Formula has been very flexible in helping its clients create a craft of their dreams. We’ll also continue to offer exciting alternatives to the traditional performance model by way of Formula’s fresh FX line. We’re also working aggressively at facilitating trades. Formula has been working with its distribution network to provide trade capital and expanded avenues for sale of pre-owned boats.
Do you envision a trend toward smaller boats?
Not saying this won’t happen, but we have not seen evidence of it.
Editor’s Note: Next up, Bob Latham, Latham Marine