Q&A: Alain Villemure talks about new position with Evinrude
Alain Villemure is wrapping up his second week heading up Evinrude as the vice president and general manager of the outboard engine division of BRP.
Boating Industry talked to Villemure about what he is seeing so far, BRP’s recent $15 million investment in the Evinrude facility and the challenges and opportunities as he leads Evinrude out of the recession.
What interested you in moving from Quebec to Sturtevant, Wis., to take over this position?
Villemure: I’ve been with BRP for 17 years and I see how much we can leverage of the BRP experience here with outboards. I’ve been involved with the division … when I was responsible for manufacturing for BRP North America. So I was involved from 2003 to 2005 with outboard engines. Now it’s coming back in a different role where I have A to Z (responsibility) for the North American market.
Allowing me to draw from and use all of the resources at BRP is a key element also. I look forward to bringing that expertise and that knowledge, but also leveraging the long experience of the people here in the marine industry. I think it’s going to be a very, very interesting complement for the Evinrude brand and the division here.
Why is spending the $15 million on the facility so important?
Villemure: It’s big for us; it’s big for the community. That allows us to integrate all the different functions under the same roof. Up to now, we had most of our people at the Sturtevant, Wis., facility, with a key group in Waukegan, Ill., which was product development, some purchasing activity, most of the after sales people were there. With this move, we’re bringing everyone under one roof.
From an efficiency standpoint, it’s going to be a great thing. Our ability to solve problems, our ability to focus on the consumer experience, our ability to innovate and create products in a shorter time frame. We took advantage of this investment also to upgrade a lot of our equipment to really bring our R&D department to a state-of-the-art level. We have invested significant amounts in our manufacturing business.
We’re quite excited for that. For me as a leader, having all the people under the same roof is a major element in making sure we can have a clear focus on the most important thing and really leverage the capabilities of our people.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for Evinrude going forward?
We have very interesting survey results about Evinrude showing good satisfaction levels, but more importantly, higher satisfaction levels of the boat customers when the Evinrude engine is powering the boat. This is a key result where customers are clearly recognizing the benefits Evinrude offers. The important thing is to really leverage that to the maximum, so making that experience more accessible to more people.
What do you see as major challenges for Evinrude and the industry?
Villemure: The economy is certainly a concern. We have been experiencing some recovery. With the slower recovery, there is fierce competition out there. The outlook is not the most promising with everything that is happening in Europe and throughout the world, so there are some concerns.
That puts us in a very competitive environment, but the slow and steady recovery we’re experiencing is very encouraging right now.