Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 11-11-2005, 06:43   #1
Moderator Emeritus
GordMay's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario - 48-29N x 89-20W
Boat: (Cruiser Living On Dirt)
Posts: 32,216
Images: 240
West Marine 'Service Bay'

West Marine floats its plan for a service bay

The boating supply chain is testing a store that will install what it sells. It opens in Clearwater today.

Recreational boaters may be an adventurous lot. But when it comes to do-it-yourself projects, the wind quickly blows out of their sails.

"Research shows boaters' biggest fear is drilling a hole in their boat," said J.P. Giovanni, vice president of service for West Marine Inc. "We hear a strong message from customers: "If I buy this, how do I get it installed?' "

That's the light bulb idea behind the nation's largest boating supply retailer's first experiment with drive-in installation and service. The Watsonville, Calif.-based chain remodeled an abandoned Pep Boys auto service store at 1721 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater, FL. It officially opens to the public today.

Inside they put a boat supply store three times bigger than the largest of the chain's 14 stores in the Tampa Bay area. In the service bays, technicians install virtually everything West Marine sells, plus maintenance and some repair work on boats, motors and trailers.

They aim to make buying marine equipment as easy as getting a car radio at Circuit City.

West Marine needs an invigorating jolt. Sales in stores open more than year, a sign of a retailer's staying power with its customers, declined for the past two years. The company's stock hit a 52-week low after the company last month reported a 71 percent drop in net income and lowered its earnings forecast for the year.

Indeed, the company has been fighting the tide: soaring gas prices, an unsteady economy and a relentless string of hurricanes that ripped through the Southeast and the Gulf Coast's multitude of marinas. Boat sales in Florida were hammered again by the recent Hurricane Wilma. Sales at the recent Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, a nationally watched barometer for the winter, were reportedly tepid.

"There has been a significant cutback in people's interest in boating, because they are reluctant to spend on recreation when there's a constant barrage of human tragedy and suffering," said Peter Harris, West Marine's president and chief executive officer. "But boaters historically have a real passion. They will come back. The insurance checks are coming."

For three years West Marine has been dispatching technicians to install many of the flashy new electronics at $75 to $90 a hour. Often it's a wait measured in days. Adding the same service at a store along with other routine maintenance jobs is supposed help bring down service fees.

It also gives West Marine a leg up to a big market. About 88 percent of the 7.5-million power boats longer than 14 feet in the United States are trailered. West Marine put the store in the Tampa Bay area because, with 107,000 power boats, 17,000 personal watercraft and 5,000 sailboats, it is the nation's sixth-largest boat market, according to InfoLink, a Miami-based research firm.

"It's a huge opportunity," said Barry Kelley, the company's vice president for the southeast.

As West Marine's CEO, Harris was named 10 months ago to revive the chain's fortunes. One-time president of the San Francisco 49ers, an electronic gamemaker and the FAO Schwarz toy store chain, Harris has two new prototype stores on the drawing boards.

The company won't discuss them. But many ideas launched this week in Clearwater are being tested for inclusion.

While the core power boating crowd here is older than 50, trailered-boat enthusiasts are younger, slightly less affluent and feel strapped for time, according to West Marine research. Meanwhile, boating stores have not advanced much beyond the basics: aisle after aisle of fasteners, blocks, motor parts and uncut rope.

West Marine's new look borrows heavily from Best Buy, Circuit City and Home Depot, the home improvement pioneer for the ham-handed amateur. It includes:

Flashy hands-on demonstrator boards that let shoppers try out and compare high-tech products. One stereo display lets customers try different amplifiers with different speakers.

The store is laden with graphics explaining new tech products. The GPS options range from a cellphone-sized $139 model to a $2,900 rig packed with radar, weather forecasts, fish-finder, ship-to-shore radio and a DVD player with a 15-inch display screen.

A kids' play area in a nautical theme and lots of Legos. A lounge outfitted with a variety of cushy captain's chairs sits near an open computer terminal that offers free use to people along for the shopping trip.

A variety of boating-related merchandise ranging from two aisles of fishing equipment (culled from a list of product advice from local fishing guide Richard Howard) to marine cookware and magnetic boards for chess, Yahtzee or Scrabble.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

GordMay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2005, 17:37   #2
Registered User
Wahoo Sails's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Marathon, Florida
Boat: Cape Dory 28, "Night Wind"
Posts: 353
Images: 16
As you may recall, I work for a "Mom & Pop's" sort of chandlery, having come there from Boat U.S. cum West Marine. When I heard that West had hired a new CEO, we were very concerned. If this fellow could figure things out, they could seriously hurt our business ..... then I read an interview with Harris in a boating industry magazine .... we were much relieved! I'm sorry to say that this fellow clearly is clueless. We sell many of the same products that they do, at substantially less cost to our customers ... and we still make a good profit. West Marine's problem is that they are seriously gouging their customers ... under paying their employees (who recently all had their hours cut) etc. etc. Harris's answer to these problems is project "showtime" ... shopping there is supposed to become so fun, that people will want to go there even if they don't need to buy anything. I know many WM employees ... and some have told me that they were threatened with "You will have fun at work! Or you will be fired!" ......... uh ........... anybody else see anything wrong with this rationale?
Sorry for the rest of you .. we at the Marine Trading post wish Harris a loooong reign at the wheel of WM.


L S/V Sew Good
Wahoo Sails is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Nigel Caulder on Hoses GordMay Construction, Maintenance & Refit 19 30-06-2015 12:14
Marine Diesel Links GordMay Engines and Propulsion Systems 3 13-06-2008 12:58
West Marine Sto-Away Seat? exposure General Sailing Forum 4 20-05-2004 20:07
Marine News GordMay The Library 0 20-05-2004 01:57

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 19:11.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.