The trade war between the US and the EU, China, Mexico and Canada (which boating industry leaders say is already having a devastating effect on boatbuilders) could be an opportunity for US makers of parts, accessories and components, according to one veteran of that market.
“I don’t know that it’s a good thing, but it certainly is a great opportunity for Livorsi, because all of our products are made in the USA,” Livorsi Marine president Mike Livorsi told IBI. “We get very few components from overseas, and everything is assembled in-house, so now we can compete better in that world.”
For 30 years Livorsi Marine has supplied gauges, throttles and a host of accessories and components to boatbuilders and DIY clients alike. With seven distributors in the US, Brazil and Canada, exports only account for around 15% of Livorsi’s business. “We will be impacted more by the price and availability of aluminium,” he said.
To that end, Livorsi’s sister company Custom Marine Inc, which makes stainless steel marine headers and other exhaust components, and its parent company CompX International, which primarily makes locks for the US Post Office and manufacturers like Harley-Davidson, locked-in favourable pricing by pre-purchasing some aluminium and steel through a broker contract. “We should be OK through the end of the year,” Livorsi said.
Where Livorsi sees the biggest opportunity for his company is in the so-called ‘entry level’ boat market. “All of these pontoon boats and runabouts that can be built for forty or fifty thousand dollars, they use China-based parts, and they’re going to be effected,” he said. “Hopefully, I can show them some of my products – which are more expensive – and they may bite on it.”
Livorsi said he doesn’t believe the tariffs will balance out the price difference but will make his products more desirable. “When you add in shipping cost and shipping time, that all counts. If you can’t get parts and have a [production] line down, that’s an awful situation.”
Livorsi said he is developing a list of boatbuilders that he plans to contact in the coming weeks as the impact of the tariffs become more widely felt. “There are just so many unknowns at this point,” he said.