by Jeni Bone
Get set for the most significant industry shake-up in a decade. Former powerboat champ and hair salon entrepreneur, Stefan Ackerie is ushering in a new era of boating value and choice.
Stefan Boating World
The charismatic and visionary Stefan, a veteran of powerboat racing and boating industry for four decades, is poised to officially launch Stefan’s Boating World, a mega-showroom in the former premises of Azzura Marine at Coomera on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
In characteristic European style, the building has been revamped in rainbow hued branding, white marble and stainless steel décor, a street front entrance boasting an entire wall of plate glass window and inside, a massive mezzanine level for displaying boats and welcoming potential customers and dealers.
Stefan in the new showroom at Coomera
It will comprise a state of the art workshop – one of the largest in Queensland – accommodating eight boats at a time and offering dealers 'the best service'.
The Stefan Boating World showroom can house as many as 400 boats in the four styles that Stefan says will ignite the market, make boating accessible to more people and provide dealers at all levels with a high quality, well-priced product set that will strike a chord with consumers for its versatility.
'The concept is that people will come to our showroom to see the range, then order and buy from dealers, all over Australia,' explains Stefan. He is currently doing the sums and estimates that of the 4,000 boat and engine dealers nationwide, he is aiming for around 100 to begin with, with a total or around 500 eventually.
'Our model means we are the wholesaler. Dealers such as dealers, mechanics and engine repairers can order boats as they need them and don’t have to outlay for stock. We are advertising for dealers now, all over Australia and are planning to fly them up to see our operations before they sign on.'
Heading the Stefan offering is the Smartliner fibreglass range: 17, 19, 21, 26ft boats custom designed with a host of unique features, 'advantages' as Stefan refers to them.
'These boats are ideal for skiing, serious fishing, family outings, day boats for all uses and all types of boaters. They are not expensive, extremely fuel efficient and will really appeal to a broad market.'
Manufactured in Taiwan by one of the country’s major builders, the Smartliner is built of components that are second to none, asserts Stefan. The fibre glass is extremely high quality.'
At entry level are the aluminium alloy boats under the Smartliner brand, that Stefan says are 'unsinkable'.
'The four models from 11 to 17 feet really stand out from the competition in the tinnie market.'
Then there’s the Karnic range of boats that are true luxury at very affordable prices, computerised and up to 'an absolutely amazing standard', according to Stefan.
Then, there's the striking and innovative range of RIBs that come with Power Tec engines in a basic $3,500 package.
Hayman Island has already picked up a few of these, with the unique transparent keel/hull for exceptional viewing of underwater wonders.
transparent hulled RIB
Then, as if that weren’t enough, the icing on the cake is the remarkable new watercraft that Stefan calls 'the game changer', displayed at the showroom in Stefan’s trademark fairy-floss pink, the Razar Cat.
It comes in various colours, including white for less conspicuous fun.
The futuristically styled 4.1m long Razar Cat, which combines the best features of a jet-ski and an inflatable boat, will revolutionise fun on the water for thousands of people.
It will also provide a highly functional alternative for maritime search and rescue organisations and be an efficient tender for superyachts and other large vessels.
Stefan himself oversaw the development of the Razar Cat over 18 months. It made its world debut at the 2012 Gold Coast International Marine Expo and is proving a hit with consumers.
'The Razar Cat has many, many advantages over a jet-ski yet will provide a similar level of fun and excitement while costing about one-third less than a jet-ski to operate and cheaper to buy,' Stefan says.
'Its performance and stability are quite remarkable and it can carry up to 10 people . It is also very economical to run as it is powered by an outboard motor.'
The Power Tec engine range is made in China, and available in 60 countries.
For all Stefan’s enthusiasm and ideals, he has his detractors. Many among them state the Asian imports will cut in to an already crowded and somewhat stagnant market, taking share from Australian-made boats and established imported brands, muddying the waters.
But as he points out, 'Not many are made in China. They are made in Europe and Taiwan and Australia. Only the tinnies are made in China, from high-grade Australian aluminium'.
Power Tec engines
'The pricing on these boats has been made possible by the use of high tech methods that cut time on production, and we're not expecting such large margins, but rather relying on volume of sales.'
To prove his point and test his theories, Stefan is taking his boats to Brisbane next weekend for the Tinnie & Tackle Show, promising a major promotion for the launch in his home town, then heading to Shanghai 'to see the latest and greatest' in the region.
After that, the roadshow continues. Which boat shows? 'I plan to do them all,' he states emphatically. 'These are boats for everybody and dealers are going to benefit too.'
More at www.stefanboatingworld.com.au