Boating Industry

November 2016

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November 2016 | Boating Industry | 21 implementing it gradually in some and a little more urgently in others. When you have storied brands, historic brands, whatever you want to call them … there are people attached to each one of these brands. When you look at Pro-Line … they kind of reinvented the saltwater fi shing boat for the guy who wants to go fi shing on the weekend. It's one of the fi rst companies that actually did that. Then if you look at Doug Smith who started Baja with Neal Baker up in Ohio … they used to build little outboards that go fast and wouldn't kill you. They moved down the path of the affordable sport boat, if you want to call it that. Then you look at Donzi, which has been ev- erything over the years, it's had its roots in racing and performance. … It's been a lot of different things, but the core value of the brand has been performance and it always will be. At the same time, it has a lot of opportunity to grow into to- day's market and modernize if you will. Donzi has an opportunity to grow as our rev- enue grows and we dedicate funds to the expan- sion of the brand. Fountain has a clear defi nition: go fast. It's the epitome of American muscle in a boat. Each one of them is distinctive, but at the same time, Pro-Line aside, there are a lot of synergies. We've got the basis of phenomenal engineer- ing and running surfaces. With today's propul- sion, which has really changed the business, especially in outboard power, it makes it a lot easier to put together product going forward. … The market has changed and we know that. And the customers buying those brands – they've changed, too. … Make no bones about it. This is the Foun- tain culture here, which will probably lend it- self to positives as we develop new products. The infl uence of Fountain – you can't argue that [Fountain founder] Reggie [Fountain] didn't build a heck of a model here. The core group of people that are here – I'm talking about the people that are here on the line and managing the line. These are smart people and smart boat builders. The management team, with Carol Price as the president of the company, can't ask for a better person on day-to-day operations basis. … We're putting together a good group. Beyond that, we're looking at marketing plans for each brand and with Julie [Johnson] on board, I think we'll have a good shot at re- ally differentiating [the brands] and making sure they have brand identities that are respectful of the past but looking toward the future. We hope it will be something a dealer can buy into and enjoy doing business with us. Boating Industry: As you look to expand that dealer network, what's the message to dealers? CURRAN: If we're going to grow, we need to have a distribution and dealer network to ac- commodate it. When we're restarting a com- pany like this, we've got to make sure the plant is in good shape, of course, but we've got to look at things like fl oorplan. We've secured fl oorplan- ning with Bank of the West and we're looking at other lenders right now. In respect to the dealer network, we want a business proposition that can be profi table. These brands don't fi t every dealership, so you've got to fi nd the right fi t, the right personality. Someone who's going to be passionate about what they're selling, believe in the branding. In my position, all we can do is get things pointed in the right direction, make sure invest- ment is going in the right place and start lis- tening to the core dealers that we do bring on board. … It's not really what we want or what the ownership wants. It's where the dealers and the market take it. Boating Industry: You've worked for a number of boat builders over the years. What made this attractive? CURRAN: I've passed on some offers over the past year. This came up and you just can't pass on this type of challenge. All the stuff I've done over the years with multiple brands … this is the best fi t. I think the ownership sees that, the team out back sees that. Boating Industry: You intend to keep all the production there in North Carolina? CURRAN: We're going to keep our base here, that's for sure. We can probably make a few changes, but we have plenty of space here, about 60 acres. If it would make sense to be in a different geographic area for various reasons, we could expand into another location if we ever needed the capacity. Right now, we don't have any capacity restraints. Hopefully we'll get there some day. Fortunately, the way the plant is laid out, we're going to be able to accommodate the dif- ferent types of assembly these brands take. As you can imagine, a Pro-Line is drastically differ- ent from lamination to engineering from a 38 Fountain. Boating Industry: And the plan is to keep manufacturing all the brands at this point? CURRAN: Yes. Each brand has a great follow- ing. There will be fi nancial considerations as we go forward. The toughest thing to do with so many brands is to keep them all fresh. Pro-Line has been a high-volume boat in the past, so I think Pro-Line can create some volume for this place and cover some overhead during good times, bad times. That's a brand we want to build as a cornerstone of our fi nancial model. The rest of the products have to survive on their own, too. We're not set in any ways here. We can roll with the technology and with these brands it will be accepted. "In my position, all we can do is get things pointed in the right direction, make sure investment is going in the right place and start listening to the core dealers that we do bring on board."

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