Boating Industry

October 2016

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24 | Boating Industry | October 2016 MOVER & SHAKER FINALIST AS THE NATION'S LARGEST BOAT RETAILER, MarineMax sells a lot of boats – the company will move more than 5,000 in 2016. It also sells a lot of different boats, ranging from 13 feet to 125 feet. Not surprisingly, those buyers are looking for very disparate things from their experience with MarineMax. It was with that difference in mind that Chuck Cashman tasked the MarineMax marketing and IT teams with creating to help reach the top end of the market. MarineMax is one of the largest sell- ers of yachts in the world, but would often hear from customers that they thought MarineMax only sold smaller boats. That's a function of trying to serve every customer through one site — a near impossibility. The new site is dedicated to yachts of more than 50 feet in length. "By focusing on MarineMax Yachts it lets us have [a place] where people who are looking at yachts can go directly and have a shopping experience that is a little bit different than the bread and butter business, but at the same time not taking away from our bread and butter," he said. Cashman was also the primary driver of the MarineMax decision to add yacht management services, with industry veteran Bob Saxon joining the team as vice president of yacht man- agement, crew placement and charter. Saxon has more than 35 years of expe- rience and began his career as vice president of Whittemore & Williams, considered by many to be the forerunner and pioneer of yacht management services. Saxon is also the founding president of the International Superyacht Society. The division isn't expected to be a profi t center – just breaking even will help Marine- Max meet its goals of growing the yacht business. "It's a big investment for us to build a yacht management division," Cashman said. "Most companies don't take a ton of money at it … the return is really to deliver the best experience to the customer." Growing segment Those changes, along with others putting a greater emphasis on larger yachts, have re- sulted in the yacht business being up "dramatically" in 2015 and 2016, Cashman said. There are a number of reasons for that, from improved marketing of the segment to a strong economy. "Wealthy people have wealth," Cashman said. "The people with money still have money. We went through a downturn where people sat on the sidelines for a long time. At some point, I think it's just human nature to reward your achievement." Everyone in the boating industry has gotten so used to talking about a lousy market that it's easy to miss how much the economy has improved. "The economy – we've got to quit putting an asterisk when we talk about how busi- ness is," Cashman said. "It's certainly not at the levels it was at in 2003, 2004, 2005. However, it's pretty good." There are also a lot of new and innovative boats out there, Cashman added, with manufacturers investing in new designs, propulsion updates and a number of new options, such as stabilization improvements. Finally, through its MarineMax Getaways and other events, the company continues to market the boating lifestyle. "I think we're doing a better job at telling the story that yachting is a great lifestyle," Cashman said. "We still do a ton of trips. It's one of the pillars of our company. We do about 1,000 trips a year between our 65 stores." Those trips matter beyond the yacht segment, of course, as MarineMax works to keep people boating. "It's the most critical thing we do. When I look at dollars to spend on marketing, our events and our trips are No. 1," Cashman said. That's why even during the downturn as MarineMax cut other marketing, closed stores and reduced staff among other cuts, that budget was one of the few things that wasn't cut. "I think one of our biggest competitors is time," he said. "It's hard to make time to go on a boat. What we've found is that if you can get on someone's calendar two months in advance … you can keep them boating." CHUCK CASHMAN CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER MARINEMAX, CLEARWATER, FLA. "WE WENT THROUGH A DOWNTURN WHERE PEOPLE SAT ON THE SIDELINES FOR A LONG TIME. AT SOME POINT, I THINK IT'S JUST HUMAN NATURE TO REWARD YOUR ACHIEVEMENT." 1,000 + » TRIPS PER YEAR FOR MARINEMAX CUSTOMERS

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