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CSI awards keep industry competitive

As the Miami International Boat Show approaches, boat and engine buyers may want to keep an eye out for those companies that have won awards based on independent consumer satisfaction surveys.

J.D. Power & Associates, long recognized for its rankings of cars based on consumer satisfaction surveys, has been issuing awards and rankings for boats and marine engines since 2001. The National Marine Manufacturers Association, an industry group, also recognizes companies for high levels of consumer satisfaction annually based on independent surveys by MacKenzie Corp., of Fenton. Mo.

The 2004 NMMA CSI awards, announced in November, don’t rank boat or engine makers within their category like the J.D. Power awards do, but they do identify all participating boat and engine manufacturers that achieve an average score of 90 percent or better in customer satisfaction surveys. The November awards are based on surveys of 50,000 consumers who bought a new boat or engine from July 2003 to June 2004. At least 25 responses are required to qualify for an award.

CSI award winners can use the awards in their advertising.

David Ritchie, Hatteras Yachts’ marketing director, said the company plans to include the NMMA recognition in its February advertising.

He said Hatteras has been surveying its buyers for years, and NMMA’s recognition confirms Hatteras’ own findings. “It’s good to have a third party affirm the story that we tell: When you have any issue with your boat, we take care of it,” Ritchie said.

At Grady-White Boats, which has won J.D. Power awards three years running, as well as NMMA recognition, marketing manager Joey Weller says the NMMA CSI program is designed to raise product quality and service standards across the industry. He says Grady-White has been doing its own customer satisfaction surveys for 15 years.

“We’re already doing that,” he says. “To keep improving — that’s the challenge. Competition makes everybody better.”

Irwin Jacobs, chairman of Genmar, and owner of seven boat companies that won awards, says the accolades will be used in company marketing materials. “I’m proud of them. I’d be a whole lot prouder if all our companies got the award,” Jacobs said.

Manufacturer participation in NMMA’s CSI program increased 50 percent last year, according to Terry Leitz, the industry group’s CSI program director. Leitz says results enable manufacturers to see how they stack up against the industry average in their category in consumer satisfaction. Their dealers also can see how they compare with the boatbuilder’s other dealers in servicing customers. He says builders can use the survey information to identify areas where the consumer is not happy and do something about them.

The award goes to …

Forty manufacturers received NMMA awards. They include:

Albemarle Boats, (sterndrive cuddy express, inboard fishing express); Aquasport (fiberglass outboard boats); Baja Marine (sterndrive cuddy express); Bayliner (deckboats); Boston Whaler (fiberglass outboard boats); Cabo Yachts (inboard fishing express); Century (fiberglass outboard boats); Cobalt Boats (sterndrive bowriders, sterndrive cuddy express); Cobia (fiberglass outboard boats); Cruiser Yachts (inboard express cruisers) Edgewater Power Boats (fiberglasss outboard boats); Four Winns, (fiberglass outboard boats, deckboats, sterndrive bowriders); Glastron (fiberglass outboard boats, sterndrive bowriders); Grady-White Boats (fiberglass outboard boats); Hatteras Yachts (inboard flybridge sedans and convertible boats); Honda Marine (outboard engines); Hydra-Sports (fiberglass outboard boats); Island Packet Yachts (inboard powered sailboats); Larson Boats (deckboats); Lowe Boats (deckboats, pontoon boats, aluminum outboard boats); Manitou Pontoon Boats (pontoon boats); Monterey Boats (deckboats, sterndrive bowriders); Premier Marine (pontoon boats); Princecraft Boats (aluminum outboard boats); Pro-Line Boats (fiberglass outboard boats); Pursuit Boats (fiberglass outboard boats, inboard fishing express); Regal Marine (sterndrive bowriders, sterndrive cuddy express, inboard express cruisers); Regulator Marine (fiberglass outboard boats); Sea Ray Boats (sterndrive bowriders); Seaswirl Boats (sterndrive bowriders, fiberglass outboard boats); Skeeter Products (fiberglass outboard boats); Stratos Boats (fiberglass outboard boats); Tiara Yachts (inboard fishing express); Volvo Penta of the Americas (sterndrive engines); World Cat (fiberglass outboard boats); Yamaha Motor Corp. USA (outboard engines).