September 13 2016
Actunautique Yachting Art, with Nicholas Stickler, president of Boston Whaler, to speak about the last news of the shipyard and about its strategy.
Nick Stickler, before all, could you introduce Boston Whaler in few words, a myth in water sports.
Nick Stickler - Most people know it for the unsinkable legend, and certainly that the core of our business is the unsinkability of the boat, but there is much more to a Boston Whaler; it is about fishing, about pleasure boating, and feeling very confident on the product. Security, yes.
Nick Stickler - Absolutely, that goes with security right, I mean you can't feel confident on your product if it is not the best quality.
Where is the shipyard located?
Nick Stickler - We are in a town called Edgewater, Florida, it is just south of Daytona Beach.
How many people, and how many boats do you build each year?
Nick Stickler - Well, we have over 800 employees, and produce a bit more than 2000 boats a year. We build a very wide range of boats; what we build depends on what is popular on the market. For example right now, larger boats are very popular, especially in the United States.
What is the sales growth on this marKet segment ?
Nick Stickler - We see the large boat market, boats above 33 feet, growing over more than 15 %, year over year (between last year to this year), whereas the smaller boats are growing much slower.
On this segment, you launched last year an iconic model, the Boston Whaler 420 Outrage. How was this model received in the market ?
Nick Stickler - This model was very well received. We produced 35 units and still have only two or three stock boats, that are available, so almost every 420 we build today is already sold. So we have more production to complete before we have a full pipeline.
How do you explain the success met by this model ? Downsizing of yacht's owners ?
Nick Stickler - Correct. Yes, we pulled in owners of larger boats even into that boat, because again, they like the Boston Whaler brand, it is a safe product, they feel comfortable with it and they actually downsize it to a 42!
A one million euros 42 feet model...
Nick Stickler - Yes, one million US dollars too, so... It is an expansive pricing, but we thought we would sell more in the 20 range.
How many units of this model do you aim to sell next year, on cruising speed ? 30, 40 ??
Nick Stickler - Yes, I think that range is about, what it can feel like. It is still selling quite well, and I don't think that the high-end, as you said there, is out of the question.
Among large boats segment, you have just launched the BW 320 Vantage, a classical luxury bowrider...
Nick Stickler - This model is a very practical boat; it can be used as a fishing boat, but it is an excellent boat for the family. There is something for everyone in the family to like, a cabin to escape the heat, air-conditioning, a nice large head, and that place is for people to set, you can use the back of the boat for fishing. So it is a very versatile boat, which is why it has been well received in the market, especially the 32 and the largest version of it again, the larger boats are selling well, that has been a very strong boat for us this year.
Do you planifiy to launch a 36 feet or over Vantage model, to take advantage of the market growth ?
Nick Stickler - We are not planning that in the immediate future, we have not even been able to keep up with demand on the 32 yet, we think there is some more market demand there, and as the market maybe flattens, or slows, then we will take a look at this situation. If there is a market demand in the larger boats, or if there are plans for another variation: in that case, we have to find how to meet customer needs in a little different way, and create a new type of boats.
In terms of products' strategy, in which direction do you go at Boston Whaler?
Nick Stickler - In terms of products, I think Boston Whaler is always stuck with its core, and I think the one thing you have seen is boats getting larger; there is a limit to that, I still think we will focus a lot of our time and energy on new innovative larger boats. I think there is more to go, a lot more to modify...
Only outboards models?
Nick Stickler - We have always been outboards, and that is our strategy, to stay with that.
Can we imagine cabin cruisers?
Nick Stickler - I certainly think that can be imagined, but not in the immediate future, because now we have a good strong line of models that is selling well, but that is something we are definitely thinking about, and our designers are always trying new ideas, and when we think we have something, we will test it with the market and see the response.
Currently on which range do you focus developments?
Nick Stickler - Well, we are here today, launching a couple of new Outrages. So that will complete a full overall of our Outrage line-up, that is where we are focused on, between now and the end of the year, and then we ought to bring some exciting new products to the Miami Boat Show.
Can you tell us more about that ?
Nick Stickler - Well, we are still finalizing all that, so I can't say... Today, we really haven't finalized what we are going to bring to Miami; we are having lots of discussions, there are many different opinions... We don't launch a boat just because it was on a calendar to launch a boat. We launch a boat because it is in that life-cycle. If the dealers are still having good success with the boat, and the customer likes the boat, then we can wait a little bit, if the model is slowing down, something is happening with the competition, we pull it in... We keep ourselves very flexible.
Next year, Boston Whaler will celebrate 60 birthday...
Nick Stickler - Yes, with the launch of the 2018 model year, that will be our sixtieth anniversary model year. It will be a very big year, and we ought to work on a lot of new exciting products for that launch, so the end of next summer will be of all that finalized, and celebrate our birthday!