Forecast 2015: Scott Sjogren—Pier 57 Marine

Scott Sjogren, the owner of Pier 57 Marine in Gurnee, Ill., is bullish on the future of luxury performance center consoles and high-performance catamarans. And for readers who’ve followed his collaboration with Mystic Powerboats and the DeLand, Fla., custom go-fast boat company’s upcoming 39-foot center console and 44-foot catamaran (read the latest story), that will come as no surprise.

Here’s what Sjogren had to say when asked what he sees coming for the performance-boat market in the new year.

“I think the performance center console segment of the market will continue to grow. That market is getting bigger, but it’s still very, very small. I think people are looking at luxury center consoles for a few reasons. First, in most cases they hold their value better than traditional performance boats. Two, most of the outboard engines that power them come with five-year warranties and run on 89-octane fuel. Three, you can take a lot of people on them and they’re getting pretty fast. I’ve always said that if you’re born with the water gene, you’re not going to stop boating. But you may change the way you go boating, and that’s happening in the performance boat market. And that’s why we’re seeing growth on the center console side.

scottsjogrenScott Sjogren (center) and friends: “As an industry, we need to work together to bring younger people into the marketplace.”

“Traditional ‘new’ performance V-bottoms, I think, will continue to struggle, because the people spending money on new go-fast boats today have already owned V-bottoms. It’s still a pretty small group of buyers, and now they want the benefits of owning a cat. Look around the industry. How many V-bottom builders have gone out of business or are struggling? Now look at the catamaran builders. The premium brands are still building and selling boats. And when I talk about performance V-bottoms and cats, I’m talking about boats 38 feet and longer. As I said, the customers who have already owned V-bottoms are now moving onto cats, and there is not enough new blood coming into the market to replace them.

“At the dealer level, the biggest challenge we’re continuing to face is getting and finding good, clean pre-owned inventory. If you were buying a sportscar today, a 2008 Corvette would not be considered a ‘late model.’ But in the performance boat market, a 2008 model is considered a late model—it’s a relatively ‘new’ used boat. The warranty on that boat expired in 2009—six years ago. Unfortunately, one of the biggest expenses we have as a dealer is the money we have to put into used boats to sell them. It’s in the thousands of dollars for each boat because we hold ourselves—and are held—to a very high standard in terms of what we deliver in a used boat.

“As an industry, we need to work together to bring younger people into the marketplace. Just look at the demographics of consumers in our industry. They’re not getting any younger. I also think there’s an opportunity for event organizers with the performance center console market. It’s getting big enough now where someone could put on a center console-only poker run or regatta—there are enough of them out there now. It would be a good way of getting together people who have similar interests.”