We have recognized our four Movers & Shakers for 2015, but they’re not the only industry leaders making bold moves to improve the boating industry.
Here are seven more individuals – and one family – that are working to shake up the industry. From tackling the invasive species challenge to taking on the country’s changing demographics, these leaders are working to advance their organizations and the entire industry.
COO, SeaDek Marine Products
As the Great Recession hit and left the boating industry reeling, SeaDek found itself facing a major challenge.
SeaDek’s business was heavily dependent on OEMs, so with boat builders throughout the industry cutting back or going bankrupt, the company was especially vulnerable.
The SeaDek team began developing aftermarket programs and focusing on direct consumer marketing. Now, the sales mix is only about 50 percent OEM, with the rest coming from sales through retailers, custom projects and more.
“We have a pretty powerful marketing machine over here,” Gardner said. “A lot of effort goes into creating a brand identity and getting people to buy into that, creating an emotional attachment to the brand.”
With average annual growth of 50 percent over the last five years, much of Gardner’s focus has been on “how to not only scale up, but scale up well.”
One important factor has been keeping the manufacturing local, with the company employing 70 people at its Florida factory – a workforce that has doubled in the last 18 months.
“It helps us better control our quality,” Gardner said. “It’s important to us when we’re going to put the SeaDek name on it that we can stand behind that. It also allows us to push innovation because we’re producing the product here, we’re very intimately involved in the production.”
SeaDek also become ISO certified in 2013, giving the company a framework for replicating its success. The company also cross trains all of its employees, so everyone understands what goes into the different jobs and products.
“Every single person who comes in here has to spend time on the production floor,” Gardner said. “They get to be intimately familiar with every process that we have.”
The latest innovation is certified fabricator and certified installer programs. SeaDek held its first certified fabricator course earlier this year for companies that have CNC machines and can cut and install the products and are trained to meet SeaDek’s level of quality. The first certified installer class is planned for this fall for individuals that want to learn how to install the product, but will work through SeaDek or certified fabricators to get the product.