by Jeni Bone
Maritimo boss and boating’s senior statesman, Bill Barry Cotter invited the south-east Queensland marine and consumer media to a 2012 overview and preview for 2013.
Garth Corbitt, Greg Haines, Bill Barry-Cotter
The presentation involved marketing director, Greg Haines, CEO Garth Corbitt and Bill Barry-Cotter.
As well as reinforcing the brand’s commitment to 'engaging customers more often', the event highlighted Maritimo’s achievements in 2012, including new models and awards during the past year: Bill Barry-Cotter’s induction into the Boating Industry of Australia Hall of Fame, the M58 Cruising Motoryacht named as ‘the best imported cruising motoryacht in the USA’, and Maritimo Offshore Racing Team’s win in the World Offshore Powerboat Championships superboat category at Key West in November after a 20 year run at top honours – the event was the ideal opportunity to discuss industry issues.
At the forefront, Barry-Cotter discussed barriers to manufacturing in this country, grey imports and marine park zones and their impact on boat sales, as well as exciting news of the Coomera marina development he has designed.
Barry-Cotter also announced the appointment of Spencership as sole distributor to Europe and the Middle East. Based in Monaco, the company has grand plans for getting the brand to markets that offer the most potential for growth.
Revealing that 90% of Maritimo boats are destined for export, Barry-Cotter said the US, South America and Europe were 'strong' and Brazil is looking particular buoyant, with most than 28 yacht outlets already expressing interest in Maritimo.
'Europe though is by far the biggest market. We haven’t really sold anything there since 2008, but we’re looking forward to that changing since we teamed up with Spencership.'
Maritimo, Barry-Cotter continued, is the only boat manufacturer in Australia to be ISO 9001 certified, and has just achieved its three-year re-certification, 'which is testament to the discipline and approach of our company'.
Throughout the build, quality control is undertaken by three independent auditors, four to five times, depending on the size of the boat. Clients and dealers inspect the boat during build, followed by a surveyor putting the boat through its paces during sea trials.
'Client feedback is vital, at all stages from concept through to delivery. They are involved in the process.'
In 2013, Maritimo is committed to more promotions, more events and activities for owners and enhanced communications.
As Greg Haines, marketing manager outlined: 'We will be organising musters for both brands, using social media, e-news, advertising and boat shows to proactively showcase the brand and explore new markets.'
The company will be upping its investment in its sales team, including formal training and assessment, customised for each individual.
'We will be carrying out customer and dealer surveys, focusing on our image, brand and products, as well as potential markets and the transparent process of the value chain, ensuring improved response time.'
The hallmarks of the brand will remain and be reinforced, Haines continued. 'Race-bred technology, Australian owned and built, quality engineering, design and innovation.'
Key to staying ahead of competitors and the economic impact of the GFC, high Aussie dollar and oscillating consumer confidence, is paring back the Maritimo offering, 'not trying to be everything to everybody', said Barry-Cotter.
'We are best at building long range motor yachts and we will concentrate on that, letting the sports boats and fishing boats go while we focus on what our brand is known for.'
In 2013, Maritimo will be focusing on 'building the most fuel efficient and lowest running costs luxury cruisers', through investment in its personnel, R&D, after sales service and 'customer connectivity'.
Despite the hype associated with pod drive propulsion, Barry Cotter acknowledged a widespread customer disillusion with the technology that was costing them many thousands of dollars in repairs.
'It’s a classic case of not believing everything a sales man tells you,' explained Barry-Cotter. 'We have observed with the pods, by three to five years, customers are finding bills of $40,000 coming in. Even Cummins Zeus, the second largest manufacturers of pod drives in the world is exploring other options, like a single computer for the engine, with joystick control and shaft drive inboard engine, which saves costs all round.'
The problems lie with the shape of the pods, Barry-Cotter stated. 'You can’t trim fore and aft. In the M43, at seven and a half knots we have found shaft drive is nearly 50% more efficient – it’s bizarre the difference. Shaft drive are eons ahead. Going forward, we won’t even bother with the pods because of the service issues.'
During testing across the range for both Maritimo and Mustang, Barry-Cotter said fuel efficiency has proven outstanding using shaft compared to pod drives.
Barry-Cotter said one of the key drivers that saw the M58 win over the five other models being considered for the imported cruiser title in the USA in November was its fuel efficiency.
'The Mustang 43 was using 12% less fuel at cruising and 30% less at 20 knots. The M58 boasts fuel consumption that is much better than its competitors, despite being heavier. It has lower servicing and maintenance costs as well.'
He said while some of the Maritimo and Mustang vessels provided the option of either shaft drive and IPS he could see a day when pod drive propulsion systems were very much in the minority.
'The maintenance costs are an issue as vessels get a little older and we can get even better performance and efficiency from shafts with the correct shaft angle and hull design,' he said.
An industry issue that garnered a lot of debate was the impact of grey imports and marine park zoning on new boat sales.
Barry-Cotter said while the new boat buying public was becoming increasingly more fuel and environment conscious the marine industry was doing itself a disservice by continuing to allow the importation of non-compliant grey imports.
'Why for the life of me there has not been a Federal Government crackdown on this I’ll never know,' he said. 'We have a carbon tax, a Government that is hell bent on seeing reduced emissions and yet there is a whole sub-industry in existence which allows the importation of cheap boats with motors that are illegal in many parts of the world.
'The government’s carbon tax even applies to safety equipment, like fire suppression systems, making local boats less competitive than imports that do not have to carbon tax in the country of origin.
'It should be stopped and stopped immediately.
'What we need is a consumer group that leverages the numbers. There’s something like one million boats registered in Australia and many more people who enjoy boating and fishing – those are powerful numbers.'
According to Barry-Cotter, the BIAA and other industry organisations should harness the sheer numbers of boaties and anglers to lend weight to their lobbying.
'It’s that old cry ‘somebody needs to do something’,' said Barry-Cotter, referring to the powerful US pro-gun lobby, the NRA, which holds such sway over the government because of its 4.3 million members – many of whom are awarded membership with the entry price to gun shows.
'Imagine a consumer boating club, like the RACQ or NRMA, where people become members when they attend a boat show, or register their boats, or buy something from a chandlery. It would be people power that governments couldn’t ignore.'
Crucial to the future of the brand’s pleasure boats is the R&D invested in racing. 'For 20 years I have been trying to be racing’s number one, which is why I founded Maritimo in the first place,' said Barry-Cotter.
'Our objective is to translate our success in racing to the performance in our pleasure boats, making them a knot to a knot and a half faster and a lot more efficient. I will keep pushing that as long as I am building boats.'