While many manufacturers will launch new products this week at the Miami International Boat Show, for Navico CEO Leif Ottosson the event represents an opportunity to plant the seeds for future growth as the company moves ahead with its long-term strategy to own the marine electronics category.
At a press event held in Hawks Cay, Florida in the lead-up to Miami, Ottosson spoke at length about the company’s new product releases as well as its vision of assuming a greater role as a tier-one supplier to the recreational boating industry.
“The boating industry needs to work toward providing consumers with the level of integration they have come to expect in automobiles,” said Ottosson. “If you buy a car, you pay $40,000 and you get a nice car. Everything in it is easy to use, everything has a consistent touch and feel, and it’s easy to operate. But if you buy a boat, you can pay twice that much money, or more, and you need to be a real enthusiast because it’s not like a car at all, you have to be handy and be ready to work on things all the time.
“That needs to change. Even entry-level cars today come with very sophisticated electronics, and self-driving cars are on the horizon. The ease of use and the full integration that has existed in automobiles for years needs to be in boating too, because that is what consumers have come to expect.”
Navico is clearly riding a wave these days. Its Simrad brand posted astounding revenue gains of 29% worldwide and 37% in the Americas during 2016. Meanwhile, Navico’s Lowrance and B&G brands also posted strong revenues in the past year, while its 2016 acquisition of C-Map strengthened its position in a global market.
With Navico further benefitting from significant new financing as a result of being acquired last August by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and Altor Fund IV, the company has never been better positioned to move ahead in the development of fully integrated marine electronics systems. Navico previewed a first step in this direction at this year’s boot Düsseldorf, with a system installed in a Bavaria sailboat.
“We are looking beyond simply providing an MFD that ties in with the NMEA protocols to also display engine information, and we are working toward providing completely integrated systems of hardware and software that bring all of the boat’s operations together into one simple interface so the consumer has that completely integrated experience they are accustomed to,” says Ottosson.
“In automotive, adopting that approach has reduced the cost of production by up to 30%. We keep saying that in boating we need to do something to reduce the cost, and this is a step in the right direction since it is far more efficient while simultaneously improving the consumer’s experience.”
It’s an approach that would also be very good for Navico’s bottom line. A $350m company today, Ottosson aims to double revenues over the next five years.
While that objective may or may not be attainable, what is certain is that many eyes in the global boating industry will be on Navico this week, as the company shows off its 2017 product line and takes the next step toward its goal of owning the marine electronics category.