Boating Industry

January 2016

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32 | Boating Industry | January 2016 /// Market Trends /// 32 | Boating Industry | January 2016 "Our sales have increased by more than 20 percent compounding over the past three years," said Alan Lang, national/international sales manager for Scout Boats. "It's in our forecast to grow our revenues by another 20 percent for the 2016 calendar year, and through 2017 and 2018. We have a great deal of interest in our product line and a production backlog on our larger models, with little to no inventory in the fi eld." With a growing economy, demand should continue for a while yet, said Joan Maxwell, president of Regulator Marine. "Everyone who rode that economic roller coaster through the downturn seems to be feeling much more confi dence today," she said. "They're cautious, for sure, but defi nitely more confi dent. In the past, new boaters would often get their feet wet by starting with a used boat, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. For starters, there isn't much late-model inventory out there, because through 2009, 2010 and 2011 we as an industry simply didn't build a lot of boats. But beyond that, the product has evolved and in any case it's the new boats with the new features that they want to buy." Size matters Where a 40-foot center console might have once been a bit of an oddity, the number of them which have appeared on the market over the past 18 months or so underscores the growing trend toward larger and more powerful boats. Although NMMA doesn't specifi cally track boat sales by size, what is clear is that the av- erage retail price of saltwater fi shing boats has effectively doubled over the past 10 years, refl ect- ing the trend toward larger hulls and multiple engines. According to the association's data, the average retail price of a saltwater fi shing rig in 2014 was a hefty $284,259. Just 10 years ago, that fi gure was $141,877. Where total retail sales for the saltwater fi shing segment are estimated at $2.3 billion in 2014, the fi gure for 2004 is almost half that amount, at $1.2 billion. "At Regulator we're seeing particularly strong growth in the upper end of the product lineup," Maxwell said. "So we're moving forward to ac- commodate a growing demand for larger boats, which for us is 28 feet and up. We build a 41 that has been extremely well received. To accommo- date that boat, and another new model we have planned, we are considering an expansion of our manufacturing facility. A 41-foot boat takes up a lot of space, but there's also about 50 different large molds that are used to produce that model. With larger boats becoming increasingly popular we will need to put ourselves in the position to better meet that demand." Versatility rules Of course, size alone isn't everything. One big reason for the meteoric rise in center console sales fi gures lies in the fact that the newer mod- els boast a number of features that make them far more versatile and family-friendly than their predecessors were. "Although a customer buys a fi shing boat, they don't necessarily want to fi sh exclusively every single day," said Tom Slikkers, CEO of S2 Yachts, manufacturer of the Pursuit and Tiara "When the market began to rebound … It started with aluminum fi shing boats and pontoons, and now the saltwater segment is growing because of the consumer's preference for outboard power." — Huw Bower, president of Boston Whaler The success of the Regulator 41 has the company planning for expansion. 32 | Boating Industry | January 2016

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