Soaring boat sales lead to shortages and delays | Local News


When Tim Stenzel went looking for a new boat last fall, he found a lot of people had the same idea. The boat showrooms looked quite bare.

The situation has gotten even worse as the pandemic has driven people to buy boats, ATVs and other outdoor items over the past year.

Stenzel, who lives with his wife Amy on Bass Lake near Winnebago, wanted to buy a 24-foot pontoon in South Bay.

He looked around but wanted to buy from Mapleton Marine. “Service is important and they have a good line and I enjoy what they do. They have always been good to me,” said Stenzel, who previously owned a 20ft Glastron boat.

Stenzel told Mapleton Marine staff what he was leaning towards, but he didn’t order one last fall. “They ordered one as I was looking for it anyway.” In February, when the boat arrived, Stenzel bought it.

The larger pontoon will allow Stenzel and his wife to sail with their grandkids and children and pull the grandkids in a tube.

Stenzel has yet to test drive the boat – Mapleton Marine will deliver it soon when they also install its dock and boat lift.

” I have been very lucky. I had one of the last boats available.

Few available

Lee Gansen, owner of Dranttel Sales and Service in St. Peter, said all brands and types of boats are in short supply, as are motors, side-by-sides, ATVs and other recreational equipment.

“My showroom looks a little ugly,” Gansen said of her sparsely filled space. “We just got one side-by-side and sold it. We ordered 10 mountain bikes a month ago; we were given four.

Gansen said manufacturers are so supported that a few companies he works with have stopped taking new orders for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve sold the majority of our boat inventory and we’re told what we ordered and what we have on hand is all we’re going to get for this model year.”

He said the current model year of the boats continues into August, when next year’s models will begin production.

Gansen said service work is always busy, but this year they know there will be delays in getting the parts they need. “Even the routine jobs you expect to do every day – water pump impellers, carburetor kits – are all backed up. We order parts we think we need, then schedule people in when we will have them.

Some customers who had a certain boat color and engine brand in mind have purchased a slightly different boat set that is available. “But some people, naturally when they spend that kind of money, want a certain model and a certain color and will wait until they can get it.”

Gansen said the most popular boat in recent years has been the 17½- to 18-foot-long windshield models. “We don’t sell a lot of 16½ foot boats anymore. A boat is normally a family affair, whether you’re fishing, skiing or tubing, then they’re going to have three, four or five people on board.

Mapleton Marine general manager Josh Schull said they had run out of boats and weren’t expecting much from new inventory over the summer.

“If we order a boat now, we’ll have to wait until the end of the summer before we get it. It’s 27 to 30 weeks on new order engines,” he said. “Last year’s sales were good, this year’s sales are good, but when you only sell 60% of what you normally do, it’s not good.”

Still, Schull isn’t complaining.

“I could be in the bar and restaurant business. Would I like to see more business? Sure. But on the other hand, I’m grateful for what we have.

Pontoons have grown in popularity and have long been a mainstay of Mapleton Marine.

“Pontoons have always been strong since the early 90s. But sales of fishing boats have also been excellent. But builders are struggling to source the parts they need. They have a few integral parts that they can’t get, and it’s a trickle and things are out of stock to the consumer.

He said there were shortages and delays in just about everything. “Trolling motors, depth finders, docks, elevators. For the larger depth finders, manufacturers don’t get the glass for the displays they need, so they’re all out of stock.

“But it’s everywhere – automotive, house building, furniture sales, electricians. I think everyone faces challenges in getting a product.

Service work at Mapleton Marine is always busy, but customers need to be more patient this year while waiting for parts. “What was one to three days of delivery turned into one to three weeks and sometimes months.”

Sales up 12%

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which represents North American manufacturers of recreational boats, marine engines and accessories, reports that retail unit sales of new motorboats in the United States increased last year by around 12% compared to 2019.

More than 310,000 new motorboats were sold in 2020, levels the boating industry has not seen since before the Great Recession of 2008.

The sale of off-road vehicles – ATVs, dirt bikes and side-by-sides – increased further.

Sales of new powersports models rose 18.4% in 2020, with motorcycle and scooter sales increasing 11.4%, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Retail Sales Report.

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