Boating Industry

October 2014

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36 | Boating Industry | October 2014 www.BoatingIndustry.com [ 2014 Movers & Shakers ] brands: a disconnect between the factories and the retail outlets. With that in mind, De La Torre has opted to have no dealers, selling the boats through factory outlets only. He believes he can better manage the customer experience that way, as well as en- sure profi tability. "There are fewer consumers and they've got- ten smarter," he said. "There's not the volume and the margins to make it" with a dealer network. To refl ect that emphasis on quality, he also changed the company's name from HydraSports to HydraSports Custom. In its heyday, HydraSports was building 2,000 boats a year, but only built 231 in 2012, Master- Craft's last year of ownership. Hydra Sports Cus- tom built 48 boats in 2013 and 70 this year. De La Torre is planning on 80 in 2015 and the fi ve-year plan is to build 150 a year – and no more. "I have very high expectations and we're not going to build unless it has no issues," he said. "We're growing the business incrementally to where we need it and that's all." SAFETY FIRST CHRIS EDMONSTON President, BoatU.S. Foundation Alexandria, Virginia Boating safety has often been something that those in the industry didn't want to talk about – the idea was that safety didn't sell and that education wasn't the responsibility of the dealer or manufacturer. Luckily, that attitude has changed in recent years, but there's still work to be done to keep boaters safe, especially if the industry doesn't want to have regulations forced on it. The BoatU.S. Foundation, the charitable arm of BoatU.S., has been at the forefront of those educational efforts for years. "We see educated boaters as being people who are going to get more enjoyment out of their boating trip and more likely to use their boat during the year," said foundation president Chris Edmonston, who also serves as the chair- man of the National Safe Boating Council. He was instrumental in the early days of online learning for state boating safety courses. As a re- sult of that commitment to online learning, nearly a million boaters have taken a boating safety course for free from the BoatU.S. Foundation. He has worked with the states and the Na- tional Association of State Boating Law Ad- ministrators to develop practical common-sense standards for boating education, both online and on-the-water. Although the foundation has had a NAS- BLA-approved online course since 1997, it has ramped up its efforts in the last three years under Edmonston's leadership. The BoatU.S. Founda- tion has expanded its online offerings to make advanced boating courses available on topics such as weather, navigation and more. He established partnerships with other groups, including the U.S. Power Squadrons, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Colgate Off- shore Sailing School, U.S. Sailing and the Ameri- can Boat & Yacht Council to help them deliver their educational content over the foundation's online learning platform. There's been a huge shift over the last few years in industry attitudes about safety, as well as the need to work together, Edmonston said. He credits efforts such as the Recreational Boat- ing Leadership Council and Discover Boating for helping to make those strides. "It's been a challenge, but the industry is coming around," he said. "We're fi guring out it's better if we work together and grow the pie collectively rather than try to increase our slice of the pie. You'll see more of that collaborative effort come out over the next few years." COMING BACK AND STARTING OVER TOMMY HANCOCK AND DALE MARTIN Owners, Sportsman Boats Summerville, South Carolina In the early 2000s, Tommy Hancock and Dale Martin sold their respective businesses, with the intention of never coming back to boating. Flash forward to 2014 and the two former competitors now own one of the fastest-growing companies in the marine industry. » HydraSports Custom boats manufactured in 2014 » Boaters who take a BoatU.S. Foundation online course each year 70 100,000 Tommy Hancock (left) and Dale Martin

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