Boating Industry

October 2014

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26 | Boating Industry | October 2014 [ 2014 Movers & Shakers ] WILLIAM H. MCGILL JR., PRESIDENT, CEO AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD MARINEMAX CLEARWATER, FLORIDA The biggest mistake so many people in the in- dustry make about boating, says Bill McGill, is thinking it's about the boat, when it's about the boaters and their lives. "I've been in the business for 41 years and the thing I've realized over my career is that boat- ing changes people's lives," McGill said. "That's what gets me up at 4:30 in the morning, keeps me motivated, keeps my team motivated. We are making a difference in people's lives." With that in mind, in 2012, McGill drove an initiative to focus on the "Why" of boating and the boating lifestyle rather than the price of a boat purchase. With this shift of focus came many fundamental changes. Instead of focusing on competing with other dealers, MarineMax chose to instead look at the other activities and hobbies people do instead of boating. As part of that initia- tive, MarineMax focused its marketing efforts around four lifestyle areas: yachting, fi shing, lei- sure and watersports, with the tagline "United by Water." That focus refl ects the feedback McGill hears from the customers about the impact boating has on their lives, from parents appreciating more family time to friends enjoying time together. "I hear that over and over again," McGill said. "We're doing something that unites people. That's the driver of most everything we do." The lifestyle emphasis was the primary focus of the all-new website and digital marketing strategy that launched in April 2013, with sections on each of the four. That carries over to social media, with Facebook pages for each of the lifestyles, along with one for each of the company's locations. Since launching the new MarineMax. com, the site has seen a 27 percent increase in unique visits, a 24 percent increase in page views and 44 percent more total leads received from the site. Growth ahead McGill understands the challenges facing the marine industry as well as anybody. With 55 stores (down from 93 pre-recession) across the country, MarineMax felt the impact of the reces- sion throughout its network. The good news, McGill said, is that of the 50 stores that remain from those 93, they accounted for more than $1 billion of the $1.3 billion the company had in sales in 2006. "If we never make another acquisition, we can be back at $1 billion," McGill said. "That said, we're in discussions as we speak with deal- ers and marinas. It will happen when it makes sense to grow the company." In the publicly traded company's most recent earnings release, MarineMax reported a 22 per- cent increase in revenue to $214 million for the quarter ending June 30, 2014, one of the com- pany's best quarters since the recession ended. "It is great to see the 22 percent growth that our team created in the most meaningful quarter of the year," McGill said. "Our 22 percent same- store sales growth was on top of 16 percent growth last year and is evidence of continuing industry recovery." There will continue to be challenges, es- pecially in the sterndrive segment, but McGill expects the recovery to continue. Price and a dearth of new product continue to hinder sales. "There's been a lack of innovation," he said. "When business slowed down the manufactur- ers stopped investing in new product. The cus- tomers are still there – they've just been waiting for something new and exciting." McGill is also concerned about the afford- ability of boating, calling price the biggest challenge. He's been urging his manufacturer partners not to "overcontent" the boats and keep in mind that there is a place for simplicity. "We all need to remember that a lot of people grew up with 14- or 16-foot boats with a 40 horsepower on the back and had the times of their lives," he said. "We've chal- lenged our manufacturers, when you come out with a new model, it can't be more and if you can, let's get it down." Despite those challenges, McGill believes the call of the boating lifestyle will keep people interested in boating, especially as the econ- omy improves. "As consumer confi dence gets up near that 100 mark, it's going to take off like a rocket ship," he said. "The manufacturers have to give us the right product at the right price and we'll all win." FINALISTS » Increase in Internet leads since launch of new 44% "We're doing something that unites people. That's the driver of most everything we do." — Bill McGill

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