Indicators. For most of us who pay attention to economic markers—those particular things that may influence how we buy, save, or use certain products or spend our leisure time—when it comes to the marine industry, and in particular the recreational sector, there were several recent signs during the past few months signifying the overall malaise plaguing various businesses might be easing up.
Let’s start with MarineMax. The world’s largest boat retailer has announced that it is now the exclusive Boston Whaler dealer in southwest Florida. The company operates stores in Naples and Fort Myers offering new and used models from 11 – 42 feet.
MarineMax Fort Myers at Deep Lagoon is the only full-service marina on the water in Fort Myers. Currently, the facility has 100 new dry rack spaces that complement 75 well-engineered in-water slips and existing dry storage.
MarineMax Naples, located in the downtown Naples Waterfront District, recently completed the newly renovated Yacht Center and held a Grand Opening in late February. In addition, MarineMax recently announced an increase in overall company sales for June and July.
Founded in 1919, the Cummins Engine Company, with corporate and global headquarters located in Columbus, Indiana, has opened a worldwide logistics hub in Singapore, one of the company’s eight master distribution centers for parts and filters globally.
The total investment in the Singapore Global Logistics Hub was $US5.4 million and is part of Cummins’ effort to enhance its international aftermarket product delivery.
The hub will serve markets that include the United States, Europe, China, and India, as well as customers across Northeast and Southeast Asia.
Also, the warehouse adopts barcode technology in a radio frequency environment to control and optimize material flow. An increase in the facility’s height and the introduction of a smart-slotting strategy boost space utilization by 30 percent.
Cummins said the new features of the facility are in line with its commitment to provide employees with a safe working environment and projects a 20 percent boost in productivity, faster order fulfillment time and operational cost savings with the new facility.
As part of its ongoing strategic growth and expansion plan, Freedom Boat Club, offering an alternative to boat ownership by purchasing, owning, operating and maintaining a fleet of quality boats for members to enjoy, announced the launch of a dozen new franchise-owned clubs, including West and East Coast locations.
Huntington Beach, California, is the site of the newest franchise, and it is the second launch for the brand in the state in the past 18 months. The first one was in San Diego.
A grand opening event was held in late June at the club’s Peter’s Landing Marina that attracted representatives of the California State Assembly and dignitaries from the California State Senate Office, the city of Orange and the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
On the East Coast, another new franchise made its Florida debut in New Smyrna Beach in June, joining more than 30 clubs operating in the state. In 2016 Florida’s Palm Coast is being eyed for continued club expansion.
Other recently launched 2015 franchise locations include Fort Lauderdale, Stuart and Deerfield Beach, Florida, Brick, New Jersey, St. Joseph, Michigan, and Huron, Ohio.
Additional new locations confirmed to open either later this summer or for the 2016 season include Lake George, New York, Deep River, Connecticut, along with Miami and a second corporate-club location in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
According to company sources, Freedom is also looking into inquiries from Canada and abroad indicating international expansion likely in the future of this trending business.
Scout Boats, the South Carolina-based builder known for state-of-the-art innovations, cutting edge design and high-quality Center Console, Sport Fish, Bay Boats and Yacht Tenders, ranging in size from 17 – 42’, said in a statement that its new “Plant C”, joining two other manufacturing facilities, is proceeding on schedule. The 24,000sq ft site will include a 1,100sq ft paint booth.
According to a company statement, the expansion is two-fold in order to keep up with demand for models as well as continually looking at how they can streamline the production operations for better efficiency by increasing Scout’s overall production space from 187,000sq ft. to 211,000sq ft.
Scout’s 420 LXF and model year 2016 380 LXF will be produced in Plant C. Plant A will continue to produce models 17’-25’. Plant B will produce models 27’-35’.
While there are some other indicators that are not as optimistic as these, the trend here and with other companies seems to be looking up and forward and not back at the 2008-2009 recession that hit the industry hard.
After more than five decades of animosity, hostility, mistrust and, at times, outright hatred of one another, the relationship between the U.S. mainland and the island nation of Cuba has entered a new, positive phase with the formal re-establishment of diplomatic ties.
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that once the long-standing and mostly useless restrictions of the embargo continues to ease, U.S. boaters will begin to re-discover all that Cuba has to offer. I know. I’ve been there and quite some time ago before all this movement began.
The fishing is superb, the food is wonderful, there is always music in the streets, and the night life is quite exciting. While the marina and facilities infrastructure is not up to U.S. standards, once things get going, it will take a relatively short time to have the marinas up to snuff for those making the voyage across the Florida Straits.
But just to illustrate how quickly things are moving along, the U.S. Treasury Department recently issued a charter license to Paul Madden Associates of Palm Beach, Florida. With this move now in place, and even though there are restrictions, the once tightly closed door to charter and tourism from the U.S. mainland is definitely ajar.
This coming December, representatives of the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) will be making a third trip to Cuba hopefully, to lay the foundation for the future.
More South of The Border news: Maybe it was due to recent detrimental remarks by a would-be, 2016 presidential hopeful on its Mexican citizenry, but the once stress-free and mostly relaxed rules for U.S. boaters who do not enter the country with the proper passports, visas, permits, or papers have changed and not for the better.
With its lucrative fishing and tourism industry contributing to a major part of its economy—it is estimated that some 40,000-50,000 Stateside vessels, including fishing, cruising, and sailboat racers, move into local waters each year mostly from Southern California—Mexico has recently introduced stricter rules governing those who are not properly papered. Sanctions can include fines, impounding of vessels, and immediate crew and guest deportation.
While there is some confusion as to what the rules are on both sides, the Mexican government has issued an aggressive online outreach program to clearly define the rules and regulations for U.S. visitors while in territorial waters.
Always trying to have the proverbial ear to the rail, I recently checked in with iconic, Thomaston, Maine- based U.S. boat builder Lyman-Morse.
The revered yard has now, with its purchase of prestigious Wayfarer Marine of Camden, increased its infrastructure, expertise, and already solid reputation in many ways including its history of crafting and building over 100 of the finest U.S. built yachts using aluminum, wood, and composite materials.
Recently, Lyman-Morse has diversified its production capabilities with its state-of-the-art composites shop becoming involved with the airline industry, Department of Defense, prototyping and many start up projects such as solar power re-generating units, and large scale solar arrays.
Other divisions include Lyman-Morse Technologies and Lyman-Morse Fabrication, each with its own experts, designers, and veteran work staff. This new acquisition is sure to attract many of the mega and super yachts frequenting the area during the popular summer cruising and chartering months and have a positive effect on the economies of mid-coast Maine and the marine industry as well.
For those of my European friends out there, if you’ve never visited this wonderful east coast yachting center, known not only for quality design and construction but also for seafood and like fare unlike anywhere else in the States, you owe it to yourself, should you be on this side of the pond, to pay a summertime visit.
Fair winds, shipmates. – Capt. Ken
Should you have any special interests that you would like me to look into, please send your request to the OnboardOnline site and I will do my best to track it down for you. I hope to see you around the docks or better yet, out on the water.