by Jeni Bone
Coinciding with the Sydney International Boat Show, Zodiac has formalised its agreement with its exclusive RIB dealer for NSW, Lifestyle Marine of Toronto, Lake Macquarie.
Three generations: Lyn, Geoff and Damien Hurt at Lifestyle Marine.
'This has come about by an overwhelming demand for specialised, high end and high quality Zodiac Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB),' says Dino Tantaro, National Sales Manger of Zodiac Marine. 'At present we have no specialized dealer on this craft and with the appointment of Lifestyle Marine, we thought we would start at the top. Lifestyle Marine are a Sea Ray and Boston Whaler dealer along with having been a Zodiac dealer for 15 years.'
According to Tantaro, 'Zodiac still remains the ‘Gold Standard’ in the inflatable boat market, having been produced since 1934. In fact, Zodiac is the inventor of the inflatable boat and countless souls owe their lives to this simple idea! Although there has been a marked increase in Australia of inflatable ‘clones’, coming from all corners of the globe including places like China, Egypt and Eastern Europe, they can still only hope to ‘look like a Zodiac’.
'With a five-year warranty, a national and international dealer network supporting Zodiac owners from around the world, irrespective of which country their Zodiac was purchased, Zodiac warranty is valid internationally. So, for our competitors to simply ‘look like a Zodiac’ is only telling part of the story.'
Third generation dealer at Lifestyle Marine, general manager, Damien Hurt says the company is proud to add to its Zodiac range.
'We are the exclusive dealer for all of NSW to sell the larger RIB models, from 3.4m to 8.5m. We think there is opportunity there, that Zodiac is the world leader in inflatables and NSW customers have not been able to see the larger range on display.'
Perfectly positioned on the waterfront at Toronto, Lifestyle Marine will stock the five models of Zodiac RIBs and allow people to trial the boats. 'We’re right on the water, and take up the whole street. Ther’s plenty of parking, restaurants all around us. It’s a great spot to spend the day and an easy drive from Sydney for our customers – just over an hour on the F3. Then from the Toronto exit, we’re just 5km to the water.'
Zodiac tender 1
Hurt says the appeal of Zodiac brand is 'strong, popular, the name Zodiac is synonymous with inflatables'.
'They are safe, stable and exceptionally made. They can also run a deep-V which means they’re smoother in rough water, which is why they are used as tenders, rescue and armed forces operations boats.'
At the Sydney International Boat Show, Lifestyle Marine will be displaying its Sea Ray models, as well as Zodiac in Hall 3, Stand 307. 'We have a 420m² display with all our range, including four Zodiac RIBs and a range of smaller tenders.'
Hurt says that the marine industry is literally in his blood, following on from dad, Geoff and grandfather, Lyn Hurt, who founded the business in the 1940s.
'It’s a great industry. The market is a little bit tough, but that’s part of it. That’s why we adjust our product offering and keep on improving our dealership. Instead of offering just a few models in the Zodiac range, we are intent on being the best in the state, and taking exclusive dealership rights means we’re prepared to do the work.'
The investment in the business has earned praise from Zodiac’s director of international sales, Denis Ricard who came to visit the dealership and was impressed. 'He had never seen a dealership anywhere around the world that managed to have its entire stock in one place – around 80 boats, from smaller boats to large boats on the marina, where we have 25 berths.'
With Australia slowly catching up with the rest of the world in understanding the benefits of inflatable boats, other than only military, rescue and tender purposes, Dino Tantaro asserts that Zodiac will once again be at the forefront of new, exciting and innovative designs, which will begin hitting our shores soon. 'It will be highly specialized and trained dealers like Lifestyle Marine, that will spearhead the re launch of Zodiac RIBs in Australia. I can assure you that the best is yet to come for Australia and New Zealand,' he adds.
About Lifestyle Marine
Lifestyle Marine is the exclusive distributor for Sea Ray (the world's largest manufacturer of fibreglass boats) for the central and north coast of New South Wales. Lifestyle Marine is in terms of units the largest SeaRay dealer in Australia and the third largest dealer in the Asia Pacific Region in terms of dollars. Lifestyle Marine is the exclusive distributor for Boston Whaler fishing boats for the Central and north coast of New South Wales and has been the largest Stacer dealer in Australia for the past five years.
More at www.lifestylemarine.com.au