An Open Letter to any Group Contemplating the Purchase of Searay

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ididntdoit, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. Ididntdoit

    Ididntdoit Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2007
    Newport, RI
    300 Sundancer
    5.0MPI Bravo III
    As a Sea Ray owner and enthusiast I’d like to share some thoughts with you:

    · DO NOT eliminate Captain Rusty Higgins position – even if you exit the large boat market – he is a huge piece of what you are buying – you need him

    · Sea ray owners are like Harley owners (well, not in all ways) but we share their fierce loyalty of our chosen brand

    · In that light, DO NOT move production offshore or to Mexico – keep our boats USA made

    · Leave the quality alone……in fact, build them better if you can – quality is part of the overall value and drives our loyalty

    · Power options – one of the first benefits I thought of – free of mercruiser (and stern drives in general) let us choose the outboard power that makes sense for us based on use and service availability – again, a huge benefit of breaking away from Brunswick

    · Make boating affordable again – clean lines, simple features, capable hulls – a cruiser (or for that matter a bowrider) for a family of four can’t cost more than a “middle class” house! Pare down the offerings - focus

    · Factory financing – put a deal together with a large bank like some small automakers do – this is not my area of expertise, but I know its been done in the “toy” market – outboard makers offer repower loans……the aforementioned Harley Davidson had in house financing

    · Look at what Formula has done – they own all the inventory “dealers” are really glorified brokers…….Formula then has a “brokerage operation” to sell trades – This is an important 1-2 punch – most of your customers are already boaters looking to move up – make the hurdles (financing and selling current boat) for qualified buyers less extreme

    · Regal also has a pretty sanitary operation for buying factory direct – MarineMax is killing Searay – what used to be their premier brand is now an also ran……find a way out – their reputation stinks – we only go there because we have no choice – repeat – they are killing Searay

    · You need Rusty Higgins
  2. Razzle Dazzle

    Razzle Dazzle Ship shape and Bristol Fashion

    Jul 2, 2016
    United Kingdom and Florida
    Sea Ray Express Cruiser 340 1989 Mercruiser 7.4
    Mercruiser twin 7.4 Gas powered
    Keep Rusty he is an important asset.
    Dancin Dave and northshore like this.
  3. Gofirstclass

    Gofirstclass Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 20, 2010
    Tri Cities, WA
    1995 550 Sedan Bridge,
    2010 Boston Whaler 130 Super Sport,
    1981 Boston Whaler 130 Sport,
    CAT 3406C's, 580hp.
    If you change EVERYTHING else, keep Rusty.
    northshore likes this.
  4. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    Some great ideas! I think you’re really on point with the comparison of Sea Ray owners to Harley owners. I never looked at it that way, but most Sea Ray owners are pretty loyal to the brand when moving to a new to them boat.
    I came out of an older Sea Ray and mainly looked to get in to another one. I did consider some Regals, I really liked them, but stuck with Sea Ray in the end for several reasons.
    I’ve got to say though that I had a great experience with buying my used Sea Ray from MarineMax and know two others who did too.

    AKBASSKING Active Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    SE Alaska Summer/Columbia River winter
    1988 Yacht Fisher
    Twin 375hp Cat 3208 T/A
    Great Post.......

    Who was the CEO of SR before they became Brunswick?
  6. gerryb

    gerryb Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 12, 2006
    Somers Point, NJ
    "On Vacation"
    2006 40 Sundancer
    Raymarine E125 & HD Radar + Garmin 5208
    QSB5.9 380 Cummins
    Imagine if Searay offered a 'concierge' service for the hands-on DIY types that are luck enough to own a Searay . You pay something like $299 a year and in exchange you get access to a TEAM of people like Rusty. They help troubleshoot the issue, locate parts, refer you to documentation, check original blueprints, etc. (Things that Rusty has actually done for various members of this board btw!) Good 'ol fashioned customer service like this country had in the 50's...before spreadsheets killed it. Dealers would hate it I'm sure but I do think there's a market for it. In fact the community here at CSR has filled that need for years.
  7. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    1999 185 Bowrider,
    Mercruiser 4.3, Alpha I
    Assume C.N. "Connie" Ray was owner and CEO.
    $350m was a boatload of $$ in 1986.

    "Ray founded Sea Ray in 1959 in Oxford, Mich., and built it into one of the world's largest boatbuilders with 40 models from 17 feet to 60 feet. He sold the company in December 1986 to Brunswick Corp. for $350 million dollars."

    I have a neet poster framed in my office that SeaRay sent out for their 50th anniversary - has a picture of C.N. transposed over a collage timeline of the SeaRay history.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  8. rcknecht

    rcknecht Active Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    toms river,nj
    340 Sundancer 2001
    T 454 MPI
    I like everything you have said, but I have good experience with Marine Max... This is because the previous owner, prior to the Marine Max buyout, stayed with MM... I like the idea of more outboard options, Honda and Yamaha would be nice... They need to drop the Zeus Pods... One of the ideas I had talked to Rusty about was a factory overhaul of our used boats... Kinda of like what Dale (MasterFab) did, but at a production facility. I would love to have diesels put in my 340, and a modernized interior...
  9. KnotEasy

    KnotEasy Member

    May 14, 2013
    Whitehall, Mi.
    205 Sport
    5.0L MPI
    "In that light, DO NOT move production offshore or to Mexico – keep our boats USA made"

    Agree, but maybe should read "keep our boats assembled in the USA"
  10. B BARKER

    B BARKER Member

    Apr 20, 2014
    As to post #5.. I met a guy in Knoxville,Tn in 2014 right after I bought my Sea Ray. I was at a cigar bar at a super bowl party and my cousin introduced me to him, super nice guy he told me he retired from Sea Ray in the 80's and he was toward the top, think he was one of the ceo's, cfo's something like that when they were rolling and he said I got one of the best boats they ever built..His name was Rick Stone for what its worth Great Guy he shared tons of information with me, hell he still remembered phone numbers of guys he worked with at one plant in Fla. and told me who to call if I needed info on my boat. FWIW...

    AKBASSKING Active Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    SE Alaska Summer/Columbia River winter
    1988 Yacht Fisher
    Twin 375hp Cat 3208 T/A
    Maybe CEO was the wrong term. This guy was in charge of SR and when it was sold to Brunswick he was let go. He loved SR and read this forum. Very friendly fella.
  12. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    Rick Stone held several positions with Sea Ray and Brunswick:

    Sr. VP - Controller Sea Ray Boats 1985-1989
    Sr. VP- CFO Sea Ray 1989-2001
    VP-CFO Brunswick Boat Group 2001-2006
    President of Sea Ray 2006-2009

    Rick was a financial guy, but wound up in charge of the company when the 2008-2009 recession hit the industry.

    He was not with Brunswick when they acquired Sea Ray, but was with Sea Ray instead. He was terminated in '09 when Brunswick decided they needed a change. He still lives in the Knoxville area and owns a consulting firm based there.
  13. northern

    northern Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    West coast Vancouver to Alaska
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 GPS and Charts by Nobeltec
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    Old people with knowledge are great if you want to continue to do what they have done in the past. My 37 year old daughter just completed her MBA in France. He business sense is different than mine but her results are better than mine. That is what an old refined company needs to survive and grow not New Old People. Who ever buys SeaRay has one chance to make it successful. It is a very difficult assignment.
  14. northshore

    northshore Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 17, 2011
    Cleveland, OH
    1989 340 Sundancer
    Raymarine E90W Radar/Chartplotter
    Twin 454 Mercruiser 340's
    Penguins are black and white.
    Old TV shows are black and white.
    That means that old TV shows are penguins.

    Just checking to see if I have the logic down. :D

    With out a doubt the person who had the best degree with the least common sense / business sense that I ever met was an MIT grad.
    After 1 year of destroying a department and driving the top talent away, she was asked to leave. The degree in and of its self, means nothing, where it came from, even less.

    Results yes, - that matters.

    Before I sound like to big of a DB, let me clarify by saying, I don't think the OP is recommending Rusty run the company. In Rusty, you have a proven asset that is a great representative for the brand in his official roll of yacht delivery captain and his unofficial roll as 'guy with a lot of knowledge' and it would be a mistake to lose that.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  15. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    Maybe Rusty's thinkin' a nice severance package and a handshake about now.
    northshore likes this.
  16. northshore

    northshore Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 17, 2011
    Cleveland, OH
    1989 340 Sundancer
    Raymarine E90W Radar/Chartplotter
    Twin 454 Mercruiser 340's
    I was thinking the same. A big regime change might not be pleasant to go through.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  17. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    Would be nice if when Brunswick sells Sea Ray they wind up with a similar story to Harley Davidson’s when AMF sold them where a Ray grandchild or other relative is involved in the purchase somehow and the company gets stronger on its own.
  18. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    The comparison to HD is a good one in another way. Look at what's happening to HD, to their line up. Trying to snag a different generation they'll be adding a model with pedals pretty soon.
  19. juggernaut1

    juggernaut1 Active Member

    Apr 19, 2015
    Perth, Western Australia
    2006 38 Sundancer
    8.1S / ZF 63V Drives
    Riviera in Australia went through some tough times and was in receivership for circa three years from 2009 to 2012. Bought by the Longhurst family, this boating brand hasn't looked back since, building some really nice quality boats and staying ahead of the curve IMO, and backed with solid order books.

    Hopefully the same fairytale ending can happen to Searay too.
  20. mobocracy

    mobocracy Member

    Jun 29, 2014
    United States
    310 Sundancer
    350 Mag & Bravo III
    I want a Sundancer with waterjet drives. No running gear to ever snag, no outdrives, skinny draft and near zero maintenance.

    We sold our SX190 to buy a Sundancer and while the Yamaha had some minor issues in terms of fit and finish in the cockpit, the engine was bulletproof and my only seasonal maintenance was an oil change. We were the first in our marina with a Yamaha jet and now in 5 years there are five and I see others on the lake all the time.

    Stripped of their bondage to Mercury, Sea Ray could partner with Yamaha for engines and jet designs. Yamaha has it figured out and made relatively simple. If more complex is needed, they could always partner with Hamilton like Hinckley has for larger boats or more sophisticated features like joystick control.

    A less maintenance intensive powerplant and propulsion system would do wonders to make the boats less expensive to own. In this day and age, there's little reason to continue using ancient GM blocks kludged into marine engines. And while they're partnering with Yamaha on engines, they could also partner with them on generators...

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