New Hydra-Sports owner reveals plan for brand
Following the acquisition of the Hydra-Sports brand from MasterCraft, Plantation Boat Mart & Marina will continue to use MasterCraft to manufacture but will sell factory direct, a model Plantation President Elias De La Torre sees as the future of the industry.
De La Torre said 48 boats will be manufactured in the first year – the majority of which will be models he has the most experience selling, primarily the 30-foot, 34-foot and 42-foot center console sport fish boats.
Although the first six to 10 months will be focused on building the larger models, De La Torre said he would revisit the smaller models previously offered and determine which will continue.
De La Torre has full ownership of Hydra-Sports – the brand’s fourth owner in its 39-year history – but will continue to use MasterCraft as the manufacturer, a role in which De La Torre said it has been exceptional for the last three years.
“It is the best way, they are the expert at manufacturing,” he said. “They made the best Hydra-Sports in the 17 years I have been selling them.”
De La Torre’s dealer and marina operation is not new to boat brand ownership. Plantation Boat Mart took 30-percent ownership of SeaHunter Boats in 2010. Similar to his current manufacturer agreement with MasterCraft, Plantation Boat Mart handles the distribution and marketing for the brand.
In taking full ownership of Hydra-Sports, De La Torre will serve as CEO of newly formed Hydra-Sports Custom Boats.
MasterCraft set aside 37 employees to work exclusively for Hydra-Sports, including three engineers for research and development, according to De La Torre, who will visit the plant quarterly.
Going forward, Hydra-Sports will exclusively sell factory direct. De La Torre said two testing centers at Plantation’s current locations in Palm Beach and Islamorada, Fla., will house the models and allow customers to test ride its boats.
De La Torre believes selling boats through the manufacturer is the most logical distribution model in today’s market.
“The consumers today are more educated. You cannot build the boat, sell it to the dealer, have the dealer mark it up some more and sell it to the customer,” he said. “I do not think that is going to work much longer.”
As a 20-year veteran of dealer services, De La Torre said his experience on the front lines of the marine industry creates a win-win situation for fans of the brand.
“People understand there is no more hiding behind the manufacturer,” he said.
Plantation Boat Mart’s plan to produce 48 boats in the first year is a reduction from Mastercraft’s 100-plus-boat production in the last year of its three-year ownership, according to De La Torre. The reduced production is an effort to supply under demand to both maintain resale values and ensure customer satisfaction.
“I know I can satisfy 50 customers, and I want to be able to handle each customer one at a time,” said De La Torre. “I will build more next fall if everyone is satisfied.”
Part of that strategy is to guarantee customer satisfaction without offering a model warranty, which De La Torre says often become an inconvenience.
“I don't want to know the warranty procedures,” he said. “… I want to know if the manufacturer will stand behind the boat in the first year and 30th year.”