Sept 17, 2019

Smoker Craft, Inc. – a leading manufacturer of fiberglass, pontoon and aluminum fishing boats sold worldwide under the Smoker Craft, Starcraft, Starweld, Sylvan and SunChaser brands, has concluded the largest annual dealer meeting in the company’s history with no less than 168 boats on display, 22 available for in-water testing on nearby Lake Wawasee and a clear focus on capturing market share among entry-level and mid-level buyers.

“Our focus for 2020 is affordable boating. We want to get more people out on the water by keeping boating accessible to everyone,” said Smoker Craft Inc. Senior Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Development, Peter Barrett. “As the marketplace focuses increasingly on that higher-end consumer, our concern is that the entry-level buyer has been completely left out, and we want to bring them back into the picture. We want a millennial to be able to buy one of our boats and become a customer for life.”

Smoker Craft welcomed dealership representatives from more than a half-dozen countries to its New Paris, Indiana manufacturing complex for the company’s annual dealer meeting – including 43 new dealers attending their first Smoker Craft event and nearly 20 prospect dealers drawn by the company’s vast product and brand portfolio, manufacturing expertise and emphasis on dealer partnerships.

Among the new product on display and available for in-water testing was an all- new SVX fiberglass deck boat line created with the entry-level buyer in mind – a fitting introduction as the company celebrated its 60th year in the fiberglass boat business. “These are boats that have fresh, contemporary styling yet come in at an attractive price point,” said Barrett. “Beyond that, they perform very well with less than maximum horsepower, allowing dealer to rig them with smaller engines to lower the overall package price and keep them as affordable as possible.”

Dealers were also introduced to a new line of entry-level pontoon boats sold under the SunChaser Vista and Starcraft LX branding. With models ranging from 16 to 22 feet in length, the new boats provide an accessible entry point in the highly competitive pontoon boat market. Their ability to deliver pleasing performance with modest horsepower is expected to give the new lines appeal among boaters on smaller waterbodies, while their ability to fit inside a standard shipping container appealed to overseas dealers looking to reduce shipping costs.

New aluminum fishing boat product was also on display, including a several models in the Starcraft and Smoker Craft lineups riding on the company’s all-new Vertex Performance Strake (VPS) hull design, which delivers greater stability and faster planning times while improving fuel efficiency by delivering undisturbed water to the propeller.

During the annual business meeting Smoker Craft executives including Barrett, Smoker Craft Inc. President Doug Smoker, and Vice President of Sales, Phil Smoker, discussed the company’s favorable inventory levels and its near- and mid-term business strategies in light of the current economic climate and today’s dynamic trade environment. Dealers were also treated to preliminary details of the company’s annual dealer rendezvous in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which Smoker Craft President Doug Smoker described as “a chance to get to know one another outside of business.” The Cabo getaway underscores Smoker Craft Inc.’s position that its dealers are more than simple customers, but part of a growing family that has enjoyed a leadership position in the recreational boating industry since 1903.

As a family-owned and operated independent boatbuilder, Smoker Craft Inc. has been enjoying steady growth for several years, making substantial investments in upgrading its manufacturing facilities while divesting of non-core businesses such as its sale of its furniture manufacturing operation last November to Lippert Components Inc. Said Barrett, “We are focusing on what we do best, which is to build high-quality boats that families can afford.”


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