Aluminum Solutions for Recreational Boats

Recreational boating in the United States is an emerging market for aluminum. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) estimates new boat sales grew 7 to 8 percent in 2014, with overall spending on recreational boating in the U.S. approaching $40 billion. “We’re seeing sales increases across a number of boat categories with the largest increase from smaller fiberglass and aluminum outboard powerboats – a segment that remains the market share leader given their continued versatility and variety of price points and sizes,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich.

That’s good news for Brunswick Corporation, an Illinois-based manufacturer of marine engines, pleasure boats, fitness equipment and billiards products. Brunswick has been a strategic partner of Aleris since 2005.

After growing their business through acquisitions, Brunswick began to consolidate manufacturing operations in the face of economic weakness a decade ago, and wanted to establish a single-source aluminum supplier to ensure consistency of material supply and quality. “Business models and product complexities have changed exponentially,” said Darren McGrath, director of Sourcing for Brunswick’s Freshwater Boat Group. “We’ve asked our suppliers to become more competitive, for consistent quality, critical responsiveness and flexibility.”

Aleris accepted the challenge as a supplier with sole vendor status with Brunswick and has taken steps to expand the relationship of both organizations as a strategic partner. During the most recent recession in the U.S., for example, Aleris delivered unique business arrangements that added strategic value to Brunswick, enabling them to utilize trucks for back-hauling opportunities to Brunswick plants across the country. “The programs that Aleris has developed for us provided a lot of logistical planning and flexibility,” said McGrath. “We would not have been able to achieve significant savings without being committed to each other as partners.”

We value our partnership because of the programs they’ve initiated with us,” said McGrath. “They have been critical to our productivity and to the profitability of our brands.”

Now, Brunswick looks toward the next chapter in its partnership with Aleris. The focus of the boating industry has always been resistance to corrosion. “Now that we see what Aleris is doing with lightweighting and the automotive industry, we’re wondering if there’s a new alloy out there – one that has yet to be designed,” said McGrath. As the auto industry continues to convert applications to aluminum, there may be opportunities to utilize aluminum in new ways to make boats or optimize the way they are manufactured.

“We understand the boating industry quite well,” said McGrath. “We look to Aleris to bring their expertise and knowledge of aluminum so we can continue to stay on the cutting edge of innovation within our own industry.”