Boating Industry

October 2014

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34 | Boating Industry | October 2014 [ 2014 Movers & Shakers ] work as key to their success and growth. Alleva is also a member of the Young Lead- ers Advisory Council of the Marine Retailers As- sociation of the Americas. The reason Lighthouse can make such an impact on dealers is that they know the boating industry, said Alleva. "We can go into a dealership and understand the wants and needs of a dealer and understand the buyer," he said. Most dealers understand the importance of marketing – they just don't have the time to do it, Alleva said. That's where the Lighthouse "virtual employee" model comes in. "We're an extension of the dealership," he said. "My entire company is your marketing team. We'll meet with them every day if that's what they want – it's up to them." EXPANDING BOATING JACLYN BAUMGARTEN Founder/CEO, Cruzin Dania Beach, Florida We hear it over and over again in the boating industry: We've got to get people on the water. Cruzin is doing just that by bringing the peer- to-peer business model to boating. Also often re- ferred to as the "sharing economy," peer-to-peer rentals are exactly what they sound like: the rent- ing of an item (in this case a boat) from the owner to someone else. Cruzin and other companies are betting on the boating industry being ripe for this idea. Airbnb in housing and ride-sharing com- pany Lyft are two of the highest-profile examples. "Similar to other peer-to-peer platforms, boating deals with high-value assets that people have an attachment to," said Jaclyn Baumgarten, Cruzin's founder and CEO. The service seeks to solve two problems: boat owners who don't use their vessels enough and those who are interested in boating but can't afford to buy. "Boat owners in general don't use their boats as much as they'd like," she said. "We keep it very easy to keep boating affordable by helping those owners generate rental income." The other side of the equation is that it then opens up boating to a larger audience. "Boating enthusiasts that don't own a boat have limited opportunities," she said. "Unlike charter companies or boat clubs, which are all good for the industry, peer-to-peer offers much more flexibility and diversity." What sets Cruzin apart, Baumgarten said, is the insurance program and other protections it has put into place to protect both renters and boat owners. To protect the owner, renters undergo a two- part Experian screening for identity verification and fraud prevention. Renters are vetted to see what boating experience they have, any training they've received and the types of boats they've used. Owners are also personally screened by Cru- zin's insurance company, and need to provide detailed information about their boat, including any previous damage that resulted in an insur- ance claim. Boats that are more than 10 years old must be surveyed to ensure they are safe and reli- able. As part of the rental, Cruzin also provides on-water towing services through BoatU.S. While many in the industry see peer-to-peer rentals as a threat to boat sales, Cruzin has been making efforts to combat that perception. Cruzin has worked with the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation on many ini- tiatives, and has partnerships in place with key marina companies like Westrec and Marinas International. The company is also in discus- sions with manufacturers about ways to work together. Several dealers are now listing boats on the website as well to take advantage of unsold inventory, Baumgarten said. FROM DEALER TO MANUFACTURER ELIAS DE LA TORRE III President, HydraSports Custom/ Plantation Boat Mart Tavernier, Florida Countless boat brands have died, been resur- rected and disappeared again over the last de- cade. With the frequent ownership changes for HydraSports, it wouldn't have been shocking to see the 40-year-old fishing brand go the way of so many others. But Elias De La Torre III was not going to let that happen. As the owner of Florida-based Plantation Boat Mart, De La Torre had been the company's largest dealer since 1996. So when MasterCraft decided to sell the brand in 2012, he jumped on the opportunity to take control. Compared to their towboat busi- ness, the HydraSports business was too small and difficult for MasterCraft to manage. "They didn't know what to do, how to make money with it, so they approached me and asked if I wanted to buy it," De La Torre said. "I had always had a business plan during the previous bankruptcies if I ever got a chance to buy it." That plan included several elements, many of which he has since implemented. The biggest problem, he said, was one he sees with most boat

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