Brunswick Discontinues the Maxum Brand - 08/26/2009

As part of its ongoing cost-cutting initiatives, Brunswick Corp. announced recently that it is discontinuing its Maxum boat line, which it established in 1988. The Maxum brand was created just two years after Brunswick bought Bayliner from its founder, Orin Edson, for $470 million, the largest amount every paid for a recreational boat company. From the beginning the Maxum line seemed to be searching for an identity or a solid reason for being. For the most part, Maxum hulls were the same as those of Bayliner, with different decks and interiors to differentiate the brand. It was marketed as an up-scale version of a Bayliner which also cost more, but not as much in many cases, as Sea Ray models with which it also competed in the Brunswick family.

Fountain 38 EC
The Maxum brand struggled for years between the behemoths of Bayliner and Sea Ray in the Brunswick stable.

"This decision emerged from our continuing efforts to review every aspect of our operations, including our brand portfolio, in an effort to position Brunswick to emerge from this downturn a stronger company," Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera said in an e-mail sent on August 11th  to Soundings Trade Only, a boating industry trade magazine. "It was a difficult but necessary decision, driven and based on economics," he added. Soundings Trade Only reports that Maxum will sell boats currently in inventory, but will not produce any 2010 models. Dealers have been notified of the decision, Kubera said.

Warranty Protection

According to the report, “Support will continue throughout the warranty period.”

"There will be no change to the type or level of warranty service, parts and support provided to the Maxum dealers at this time," Kubera said. "We are offering the dealers an opportunity to continue with the significant retail and wholesale incentives that have been in place during this selling season to support the dealers' retail efforts."

Maxum did not have a dedicated manufacturing facility, so no changes in production plans are anticipated as a result of this decision, Kubera said.

Maxum High Point

Perhaps the high point of the 21-year life of the Maxum brand was in the early 2000s when the company introduced a boat at the Miami Boat Show that had a bow thruster and twin stern thrusters. It was intended to be a boat that anyone could easily dock, thus overcoming the difficulty that most beginners have in docking a single-engine stern drive.

The revolutionary docking system anticipated by nearly a decade the joystick control systems that are now offered on twin-engine stern drive and diesel installations. The system was developed at the Mercury Marine “skunk works” in Fond du Lac which was run by Fred Kiekhaefer, son of the Mercury Marine founder Carl Kiekhaefer. The system was widely promoted by the boating press but due to its high price and lack of promotion by Maxum, it was soon abandoned.

Sales Apogee

A 12-month snapshot of sales from Oct. 2005 to Sept. 2006, one of the last periods of relatively high boat sales in the U.S., Maxum ranked 12th among sportboat/express cruiser manufacturers for sales in the U.S. with 1,846 new boats registered. Maxums were outsold by Cobalt (which ranked 11th), possibly the highest-priced sport boat line on the market in the U.S. which sold 1,979 boats in the same period. Rinker, which had about the same price point as Maxum, ranked 13th with 1,836 new boats registered.

The Brunswick Corp. is the largest builder of recreational boats in the world. In May 2008, Brunswick announced it would cease production of its Bluewater Marine brands, including Sea Pro, Sea Boss, Palmetto and Laguna.