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.
Owner, CP Performance
Do you foresee more people upgrading their current boats or even buying something used to fix up?
Absolutely. We’ve never been more enthused about the future. While the economy has hit hard on the new boat market, the flipside of that is boat inventory and price levels are at extreme lows. This has people upgrading to boats they once couldn’t afford as well as those who have decided keeping their boat is their best bet—the latter are making improvements to their boats every day.
Do you envision a trend toward smaller boats?
I’m not sure our current market will trend there as much as I think you will see an evolution of boat builders arise and focus to capitalize on the next generation of boaters. The current boating market is very matured to the point it doesn’t have enough cross section to connect with the younger generation. The ski-boat guys are paying attention, even building bigger boats to satisfy the needs of progression. Most manufacturers aren’t driven by the succession of what will make their boat company strong 10 to 20 years from now and this is opening an opportunity. There are so many great things happening in the automotive engine world — just watch, it’s a matter of time before you see those packages marinized and driving a new segment of the marine market. Affordability and cost of ownership will be key.
Is it difficult to develop innovative products, and can you offer a sneak peek at anything new you have in the works for 2012?
Developing new products is both exciting and rewarding for us. It is an example of our commitment and passion for the industry. The last five years have brought fabulous technological breakthroughs. Whether it’s Mercury Racing’s engine line or GPS gauge and instrument technology, one thing’s for sure, these breakthroughs are creating numerous new needs for the performance segment of the industry. While these products are exciting, there are lots of people with earlier-model boats seeking some of these advancements.
The New Year will bring long-awaited “Performance Packages” from Hardin Marine in the way of bolt-on user-friendly horsepower increases turning 525s into 625s, 700s to 850s and 1075s to 1350s. Another advent of this new technology is boats are running at speeds most thought weren’t possible years ago. These levels have required re-thinking cooling and oiling systems to meet these demands and we’re at the forefront of this. The Miami International Boat Show will unveil just the tip of what is rapidly approaching. The future looks very bright.”
Editor’s Note: Final interview, Bob Teague, Teagus Custom Marine