American Marine Holdings GM optimistic for 2012
WASHINGTON, N.C. – Craig Barrie took up rebuilding the American Marine Holdings brands as a top priority this month when GlassRatner appointed him general manager of the Fountain and Pro-Line brands.
Prior to that point, Barrie was involved with the production of Donzi Boats and had just developed a business plan to help the Baja brand recover the international reputation it enjoyed a few years ago.
His first action after taking over the brands was simply to build boats.
“The first step is that there were boats in production on their way to fulfill a dealer or customer order,” Barrie said. “I needed to put together a plan to get these boats out the door. Right now, I’m just finishing up the boats on the production line.”
As a part of GlassRatner’s reorganization of American Marine Holdings, Barrie also began writing up business and marketing plans for the new boat brands under his management.
“I was asked to do business and marketing plans for all of the brands. I had Donzi and Baja done, and now I’ve been working on a business plan for Pro-Line and Fountain,” Barrie said. “I’m learning about the Pro-Line and Fountain brands to put together new plans for varying customer bases. The lenders want to preserve the brands and go forward with the brands. As it sits right now, the plan entails a startup in the factory per their approval in January. Indications are that they want to go forward with those brands that support a lot of dealers throughout the world. As a lender, the value in the brand is everything.”
Looking at the four brands, Barrie said he sees good things ahead — especially with Baja and Pro-Line — and is developing plans to further improve the brands in 2012.
Donzi has been on a roll on its own, he said. Because it’s a boutique brand, its numbers rely heavily on its name and its global base, and the global base is strong, with recent shipments to Kuwait, Russia, and California.
For Fountain, Barrie is going through and reviewing dealers from previous years and meeting to discuss plans.
Barrie said American Marine Holdings has some Pro-Line boats he is hoping to fit into the family fishing boat market, and he is working on developing how they can do well with their share of a market in which competitors are also doing well.
“As I visit shows and talk with dealers and consumers, it won’t take long to get it back on track,” he said. “It is a strong brand and orders have kept coming in, I just have to take a look.”
The Baja brand is in a relaunch. He said he is focused on getting Baja back to what it was positioned to be in the marketplace, a sport and family boat, by getting some of the more successful Baja dealers to take on the brand again.
“These were dealers doing good numbers in its good days, and these guys are still behind it because they’re still buying boats,” Barrie said. “We have a position where we believe that with 89 Bajas, they will be sold out everywhere in 2012. If we go back to a powerhouse dealer who sold six, and now they’re buying 10, without increasing the distribution centers, we will increase our business from 80 or 90 to 150 boats.”
Finding the right production levels for 2012 is the biggest challenge Barrie sees ahead. Finding a production volume that matches the real number of boats that dealers are selling is what is going to position AMH for growth in 2012, he said.
“What is your real business volume? What is the real number of sales through into consumers’ hands? You can’t put a model year on top of a model year. There’s too much overhead and it has to go somewhere, so you end up with the number in production always fluctuating,” he said. “What is your real volume, and I think, if everyone looked at it that way, the industry would be healthier. You find that level and you keep it where it needs to be. Not trying to be 150 boats a year, you keep 80, and you stay within the levels and avoid all of the negatives you can.”
According to dealers, the production quality of the boats has been high, and Barrie plans to continue that in the new year.
“The boats that are coming up are great boats. We see the opportunity in the new year to avoid having to do all of the warranties so that people can go boating,” he said. “Obviously people want to have fun and not to chase the repairs as they come up.”