CADILLAC — Four hundred people from 16 countries, all in town for one thing: boats.
And you need more than one.
“To summarize, you need two boats,‘ joked Christophe Lavigne, president of the U.S. brands for Groupe Beneteau. Lavigne was speaking at the company’s dealer meeting on Monday (they’ll hold another on Thursday). “Three if you want to go fishing.‘
Lavigne was explaining that he’d spent the summer using two boats: a Scarab his kids liked to ride and a Four Winns his wife preferred.
The anecdote was an example of the brand messaging the company was delivering on behalf of the four U.S. brands: Four Winns is elegant and virtuous; Scarab is fun and exciting; Glastron is universal and Wellcraft is capable and robust, according to a slideshow the company showed boat dealers.
Besides introducing dealers to the new boats — Four Winns will have the 355 coupe, Scarab will launch what the company is billing as the largest jetpowered boat in the world, Glastron will have two new 24-foot deckboats, and Wellcraft will have a new 16-foot center console boat, in addition to a 40-footer — the meeting was an opportunity to get feedback from the folks who sell the boats as well as to provide training to them and sharing data that highlighted the brands’ strengths.
Lavigne and Vice President of Sales for the Americas, Andy Lindsay spoke Monday about the economy, tariffs and Brexit.
The message: just keep going, Lindsay said. The economy is still fine. Canadian sales bounced back when the tariff ended.
Lavigne promised a renewed attention to detail and quality, with a younger staff trained in part with funding from the state of Michigan.
Moreover, a possible competitor is now an ally, following a five-year agreement with BRP Rotax to supply the Scarab boats with jet propulsion engines.
Convincing more dealers to carry more Groupe Beneteau brands is an important part of their business model, company leaders said.
The company promises a simpler process for dealers, with one contact person assigned to each dealer, not four, and streamlined incentive programs.
“We understand we need to help you and we will,‘ Lavigne said. “We are simple people to talk to, to deal with.‘
The message that they would also be fun to deal with came through right from the start of the meeting; to highlight the company’s commitment to the surf industry, they aired a video showing Lavigne and Lindsay wearing suits and riding surfboards behind a boat’s wake, with predictable results.