Mercury Marine hosts media event
Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor
May 31, 2013
Filed under Tom Kaiser
With a fleet of boats powered by a broad lineup of Mercury engines, the company held its first media gathering since 2007 south of New Orleans in Barataria, Louisiana. Many of its products, including its 60 and 150 FourStroke outboards, Verado Six-Cylinder, its second-generation 8.2L gasoline sterndrive, joystick control systems — including the first quad outboard setup with joystick control — and the new Volkswagen-sourced TDI diesel sterndrive power plants, had not been previously demonstrated to the marine industry as a whole.
With the economy and boating industry showing welcome signs of strength, Mercury officials stressed that this event was intended to be the start of a closer relationship with the marine media, rather than a one-time gathering.
Engineers, product managers and communications officials provided hands-on overviews of product and on-the-water tests of the bulk of its engine lineup, as well as its joystick control, Vessel View system and other cockpit electronics.
Aside from showing off product, the company used the occasion to speak about its recent growth and future plans. Of note, Mercury has added significant engineering positions and square footage at its Fond du Lac, Wisconsin headquarters, where it will be hosting multiple events for its upcoming 75th anniversary in 2014.
President Mark Schwabero suggested the new engineering staff is a sign that the company will be introducing new products in the coming years in all segments with the goal of increasing market share and growing the company.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Schwabero said. “We feel pretty good about where we’re at as a company.”
Since 2009, Mercury has grown its Wisconsin headcount to 2,900, an increase of 80 percent, while its worldwide employment has grown to 5,400, up 50 percent.
Speaking about future product developments, David Foulkes, vice president of product development, engineering and racing, said the company is executing a 10-year product plan that will result in new products in all of its segments, entirely new architectures, major engine upgrades and “segment busters” that would create a stir within the industry.
Coming off its latest new product blitz, Foulkes said the company’s warranty rates have reached record lows, and are now at comparable levels to Apple and Honda — two companies revered for their low rates of warranty claims.
Mercury has also expanded its test facilities, made significant advances in computer simulation that aid product development and has continued its sustainability efforts, which Foulkes said have earned the company multiple awards and are increasingly important to the company’s customers and employees.
Building off the success of the 150 four-stroke, which has exceeded the company’s most aggressive expectations, new outboards are currently in development that will leverage the architecture of the 150 — both above and below its horsepower level.
He ended the presentation by saying that the media and its customers should “expect to see and hear a lot more from us.”