“Business has exploded with that new model. We’ve sold over two hundred boats to date. The 1450 very much supports the Kiwi style of boating, so we’ve been really blown away with the support we’ve had on that.”
New Zealand’s premier manufacturer of chambered alloy hull boats remains positively buoyant in the midst of a perfect global storm.
Stabicraft marketing manager Daniel Upperton says the company has been experiencing record sales both before the Covid-19 crisis and in the wake of the lockdown, especially from its key overseas markets of Australia and the United States.
Incredibly, a punt to launch Stabicraft’s new 1450 series during the level four lockdown was wildly successful.
“It’s gone ballistic,” Daniel says. “Business has exploded with that new model. We’ve sold over two hundred boats to date. The 1450 very much supports the Kiwi style of boating, so we’ve been really blown away with the support we’ve had on that.”
The development of the 1450 series, comprising the Explorer, Frontier Sportfish and Frontier Profish, was two years in the making with the intended launch being March this year.
The decision was made to continue with the official launch of the 1450 despite the lockdown. “Some of our dealers had stock and the launch was possibly the most successful of any new model.”
This success created significant challenges, as demand completely outstripped supply and “we are still playing catch-up in August”, he says.
The 1450 is successor to the 1410 and 389 series which go back to 2003.
The 1450 is a longer, wider and more solid version of its predecessor and features an upgraded pontoon which in turn created much more internal space.
Features include a full width rear seat, a higher and wider 4mm thick hull, bow seating and storage and eight rod holders; broadhead wing-style coamings and arrow pontoons – standard on other models – are now included in the new series.
“The arrow-shaped pontoons are quite a significant hull shift and performance shift. That was one key upgrade as was a new, innovative coaming set.”
Stabicraft ingeniously created an internal inset in the top part of the coaming which allowed for plentiful seating around the bow of the boat, as well as a standing platform.
“That’s just transformed the way that people can use their boats in this fourteen-footer.”
A benefit of the arrow pontoons is that they have produced a much softer ride.
Feedback from the new model’s owners has been “super-positive”.
A surprise has been the overwhelming acceptance of the 1450 series in the Australian market.
“The Aussie guys went nuts for it. They love that little boat. I think we came up with a rugged solution that meets probably a hole in the market that wasn’t being serviced very well by current players.”
The 1450 is an extremely versatile craft, at a price that is within the reach of many, Daniel says.
A fantastic diving platform, it is also a great easy-to-launch family boat for sheltered coastlines or on lakes and is small enough for duck shooters.
The Australian market remains solid, with new dealers coming on board, with the launch of the 1450 further bolstering last years release of the award-winning 2250 Centrecab series.
Stabicraft’s export growth has been extremely strong, with significant growth continuing to come from the North American market.
Despite this, Daniel and the Stabicraft team recognise the current global situation and economy is a challenging environment to be involved in, making forward planning particularly difficult.
However, 65% percent of global recreational boating is United States-based which means a market share of just 1% would be a large windfall for any business.
“The 2019 year was a record for us in the US, but 2020 is going to blow that out of the water.
“We’ve had such a positive response this year, even amid the pandemic. We are already in excess of 2019 figures at this point in 2020.”