How’s business? Have you ever attended a boat show or other industry
gathering and not heard that question several times? The question is simple
but the answer can vary depending on who’s being asked—a dealer, independent installer, full-line or ‘boutique’ manufacturer, distributor or someone else?
is the business regional, national, maybe international? Which slice of the market are we talking about—recreational, commercial, small boat, blue water vessels? And then there are the ups and downs tied to the economy, changing
boater demographics and a bunch of other factors beyond our control.
So when we wanted to poll the industry about how ‘things’ were going, we
asked just two questions rather than try to dig into every possible scenario:
• What is your take on the health of the marine electronics industry in
terms of good and bad trends that you see?
• Looking ahead, what concerns you about the industry and what makes
We posed the questions to more than a dozen marine electronics veterans
representing a broad range of involvement in the business. The article below
reports on what we learned. immediately following this story are responses to
similar questions we asked of recently retired FLiR executive Lou Rota.
Pricing model positives
The heartbeat of the marine electronics
industry is steady and strong. In years prior,
the arrhythmia caused by volatile prices and
pressure from Internet sales have now (for the
most part) been greatly reduced, because of
MRP (Minimum Retail Pricing) policy changes
from leading manufacturers.
The current direction of our retail industry
seems to finally be following a national level
pricing model, much like that of the specialty
appliance and high-end audio markets. The
positives of market level pricing is that there
are substantially more opportunities for profit
in each retail item that a ME (marine electronics) dealer sells.
However, I doubt that the marine electronics manufacturers were slowly changing the
course of the product pipeline for the primary
Taking the pulse of the marine electronics industry
President, L&L Electronics
Innovations in onboard electronics and systems are credited for boosting
business and improving boaters’ experiences on the water. “Boaters’ expectations for reliable technology to simplify their leisure time experience will
keep the boating industry on the forefront of recreational choices.”
—Carol Sherburne, HWH Electronics