If you can’t get into a new boat then Power Up.
By Gregg Mansfield
Kit Martin wanted to upgrade his Boston Whaler and went to a local boat show last year to see if he could swing the cost of a new boat. As Martin walked the aisle, he was surprised to see the prices.
“I started doing the math in my head and even if I sold my boat for top dollar, I was going to need a lot more money than I was willing to spend,” Martin said. “I needed to go a different route that didn’t involve taking out a bank loan.”
Martin had read stories over the years about boat makeovers and thought his Boston Whaler would be the perfect candidate. The center console was in great condition, but the boat felt underpowered with twin 115-hp outboards.
“I decided to go the repower route and my wife couldn’t be happier with my decision,” Martin said with a laugh. “Seriously, I couldn’t be happier with my boat and I didn’t have to blow through our savings.”
More boaters are looking at repowering options and it’s one of the reasons business has been so strong for Mastry Suzuki Repower Centers. The concept was launched six years ago and has grown to 13 Repower Centers in Florida.
David Taylor, who leads sales and marketing for Mastry Suzuki Repower Centers, said they see plenty of customers like Martin every month.
“What people are saying is, ‘Hey, wait a minute. You know, I liked my boat. I spent a lot of time to get it specialized the way I like it,’” Taylor said. “They can just repower and have a new engine, all-new instrumentation, all-new wiring and so forth, get a six-year warranty and it costs them a third of what it would cost to get into another boat.”
Taylor came up with the repower concept after seeing the role of marine dealerships change over time. Dealers would buy the boat hulls and engines separately, rig it and sell the boat. Now dealerships receive the boat as a complete package from the manufacturer, Taylor said.
“When the customer needs service, that dealer’s service ability is limited,” Taylor said. “(The dealer) can change the oil in the engine and the lower unit oil, grease the fittings and that type of stuff. But that dealer is not really capable of repowering boats. He doesn’t have the service technology within the dealership to do that because life has changed.
“So, I saw a real need for a quality product and a dealer base that was extremely good on service and rigging and the technical side.”
When it came time to pick an outboard partner, Taylor said that Suzuki stood out because the company builds a quality product but lacked the service support. That’s when he joined forces with Mastry Engine Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., which has been in the marine distribution business for 58 years. Mastry has nearly 140 marine dealers for its diesel business alone, Taylor said.
“They had the infrastructure all set up to ship parts, to ship engines and they have a service school there,” Taylor said. “Mastry’s reputation was just excellent as far as taking care of the dealer network and doing the repowers and doing the fit and finish for the boats and getting everything done. It was a natural fit.”
Suzuki Repower Centers offer basically three repower packages. The standard repower package includes replacing an old Suzuki outboard with a new Suzuki offering and doesn’t need new controls or instrumentation. The repower plus package is for a boat owner that wants to replace an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard with a new Suzuki outboard and includes a new stainless-steel prop, Racor fuel water separator, new wiring and replacing the controls and gauges.
The premium package includes a new steering system along with all the components of the repower plus package.
“Everyone of the repowers we do, we take them to the water for the customer and we test these boats to make sure the engine is at the right height, make sure it has the right pitch propeller where it turns the proper rpm,” Taylor said.
Mastry Suzuki Repower Centers includes a six-year warranty on the outboard. While other outboard manufacturers offer similar extended warranties, Taylor believes the company’s Owner’s Edge program sets it apart.
When a boater buys a repower package, they can take their boat to any of the Repower Centers in the state of Florida if they have an issue. The program also includes a toll-free number that a member can call to talk with a technician around the clock.
“It goes to one of our technical people so they can help him through any issues that they may have because it’s normally minor stuff,” Taylor said. “The quality of the engines are so good today that you don’t have many issues.”
Each Repower Center has a kiosk with the product information. Mastry Repower Centers provides performance bulletins on 390 boats they’ve repowered with Suzuki outboards but had another outboard manufacturer. Chances are consumers will find their boat model among the bulletins.
Once the consumer agrees to a repower, the outboard and rigging is shipped from the warehouse in St. Petersburg within 24 hours to the Repower Center to do the installation. Noting that today’s outboards, instruments and steering are highly technical, Taylor said all product that leaves the warehouse has the latest software updates, so software levels are compatible.
“We send them all the controls and we send them all the instrumentation and we know that all those software levels match,” Taylor said. “We give that Repower Center a complete package to rig that boat, everything they need because their expertise is the technical part of the business.”
As the price of new boats continues to rise, Taylor expects more boaters will continue to look at repowering as an affordable option.
“As I’ve said before, if you like your boat, you don’t have to replace it,” Taylor said. “Repowering opens a lot more opportunities and makes sense.”
Mastry Suzuki Repower Centers