Response to the Beer vs. Boats Game

This guest MRAA Blog was authored by Parker Stair, Co-Founder of Radian IoT and represents his opinions on dealers and manufacturer inventory management, in response to MRAA President Matt Gruhn’s column on the same topic in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only.

Hello Matt, 

In the July issue of Trade Only you presented a fantastic article entitled Beer vs. Boats, In the game of trying to stabilize inventory, there really is no difference.

As someone responsible for managing the MasterCraft dealer network inventory levels back in the day, I felt a massive responsibility to thousands of people during the Great Recession. The management team was tasked with addressing the rapid rise in inventory while managing to keep the factory in business.  It was a very stressful situation, but we ultimately succeeded. It pains me to see the same mistakes being made again today.

You ask a great question in your article; “What must the marine industry do to change the structure of our game?” From first-hand experience, I believe it starts and ends with improving the timeliness and transparency of retail sales data.  

There’s a solution to this challenge and it’s available today with Radian. This must sound entirely self-serving, but Radian’s existence was born from the challenges of dealing with inaccurate dealer inventory data from that devastating 2007- 2009 era. Eliminating manual inventory counts is an enormous benefit of this approach.

Radian IoT is a Partner Member of the MRAA.

To win the game of inventory management, it’s critical to get boat builder and their dealers on the same page, and one of the primary objectives of our platform development was to provide an early warning to dealers and manufacturers about too many or too few boats in dealer inventory. The premise is simple: Put a self-powered Radian device aboard each boat during the production process and count the total number of days that boat lives in inventory until it retails to the end user. And I mean the exact time and day the unit was delivered to the customer, as verified by the Radian device attached to the boat exiting the dealer’s geo-fence and not returning.  

Then, we take this “days-in-inventory” information and process it into averages across other retail-sold boats by model, length, engine configuration, colors, etc. so that both the dealer and the manufacturer have actual real-time data to make better decisions, collectively. The days of waiting to receive a warranty registration before a manufacturer classifies a boat as “retail sold” can’t end soon enough! There is so much time and opportunity lost through our current, manual process, that the lack of accountability contributes greatly to the inventory imbalance we find ourselves in again.

As you pointed out in your article, achieving balance is something that can be better managed. The challenge of accomplishing balance is tremendously reduced for those utilizing the Radian platform. Radian supports balanced inventory levels with data continuously being updated and shared with the manufacturer and the dealer in real-time. For the first time ever, both the dealer and the manufacturer have exactly the same retail sell-through data at precisely the same time. The dealer can use the data gleaned from past sales to order new boats, in quicker selling colors, with quicker selling engines, and quicker selling options. You get the idea. 

It doesn’t take a genius to know that the builders and dealers that have the best data will be in the strongest position going forward. The truly visionary boat dealers and manufacturers are already equipping their boats and trailers with Radian devices. They will be the first to benefit from this newfound transparency. Those who continue to go it alone will find themselves increasingly behind the eight ball. Before you know it, those with superior data will outperform the those who rely on antiquated, manual processes.

I’m looking forward to the MRAA July Spotlight Series Topic: Take Stock of Your Inventory. In the meantime, if there is anything we can do to help the MRAA, please let us know.


Parker Stair
Co-Founder, Radian IoT

MRAA Members, reach out to Radian IoT Co-Founder, Scott Crutchfield with any questions or to gain a better understanding of Radian IoT.