Forget about staycations. Boat builder Brunswick Corp. is making big investments to get consumers out of their yards and onto the water.
The Illinois-based company, with a lineup including fiberglass boats such as the Bayliner brand, has announced five expansion projects in the past year, according to H. Lee Murphy at our sister paper Crain's Chicago Business. It's adding 150,000 square feet of manufacturing in Reynosa, Mexico, creating more than 600 new jobs when the addition opens in 2023. It is also adding capacity at a Boston Whaler plant in Florida, at facilities in Portugal and Minnesota and transforming underused distribution space in Fond du Lac, Wis., to manufacturing.
Brunswick has also been focused on adding features such as sonar and radar, autopilot, fish finders, automatic docking and electric motors, Murphy writes. (Brunswick isn't alone at looking into an electric marine future. General Motors Co. announced in November it has taken a 25 percent ownership stake in Pure Watercraft, a Seattle-based company that "specializes in creating all-electric boating solutions.")
Brunswick needs production capacity, with Chief Financial Officer Ryan Gwillim saying the company already has sold boats that won't be available until 2023.
It won't be alone in boosting boat manufacturing. The National Marine Manufacturers Association says sales for the industry raced up by 30 percent with the start of the pandemic.
"Beginning in 2020, shoppers showed up at boat dealers and wiped out inventory," Craig Kennison, an analyst at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee, told Crain's Chicago Business. "Brunswick needs to build more boats faster and restock showrooms. Dealers are screaming for product to sell."