Backed by BAC

Boat dealerships need to offer a full showroom of products to be successful, and they rely on a special type of financing called “floor planning” to fill their showroom. Floor planning is a program in which a lender — such as a bank — purchases the inventory for the showroom and, as showroom products sell, the borrower — the dealership — repays the debt.

But the marine industry can be cyclical, and unfavorable economic conditions can result in boat companies, insurance providers and finance companies suddenly exiting the industry en masse. Such was the case in 2002 when finance companies began bailing on the marine market, leaving dealerships without a reliable source of financing. The exodus left Brunswick Corporation, with its 27 boat brands and Mercury Marine engine division, in a challenging position.

Enter the Brunswick Acceptance Company, LLC (BAC), a joint venture between Brunswick and GE Capital Distribution Finance that provided a stable source of consistent, reliable and affordable floor-plan financing for dealers selling Brunswick boat brands and Mercury engines.

The advantages BAC provides the dealer are many. For example, Brunswick boat companies or Mercury may choose to pay the interest on behalf of the dealer the first few months. For the boat and engine manufacturers, secure floor planning for their dealers allows planners to level the production and delivery process and keep inventory in front of the public, rather than stored in a distribution warehouse.

Additionally, BAC, which is partially owned by Brunswick, is in a unique situation that allows it to partner with Brunswick’s Boat Group and Mercury dealers to ensure they have adequate financing capacity to carry required inventory in their showroom.

The "Advantage" advantage

Mercury Marine’s extensive dealership network has long been considered the broadest and best in the industry. In order to maintain that standing, Mercury provides dealership support that goes above and beyond industry standards.

The Dealer Advantage program, introduced in 2007, offers a suite of benefits to dealers that reduces their operating expenses, improves employee retention and enhances the boat buying experience for customers.

Every Mercury dealership has access through the program to real estate advisory services, discounted office supplies, credit card processing, wireless phone service and small package freight. Customers at Mercury dealerships receive the benefit of a better boat buying experience through competitive financing, insurance and extended warranties.

Gold and Platinum Level dealers — those who partner with Mercury the closest — are offered additional benefits that include workers compensation and property insurance, payroll processing, retirement plans and college scholarships for the children of their employees. The program strengthens Mercury Marine’s relationship with its dealerships by rewarding dealers for their loyalty. The stronger the partnership, the more benefits a dealer can accrue.

Dave Kusek (Mercury years: 1974 – present)

Dave Kusek considers himself as much a “customer service guy as a numbers guy,” which belies his title as “Mercury worldwide director of credit and treasury.”

“People hear ‘credit’ and think ‘collection agency,’” Kusek said, “but our real job is to help keep our customers (dealers and boat companies) financially viable.”

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and entering a Brunswick Corporation credit training program in 1974, Kusek thought he was destined for the company’s surgical glove facility in his hometown of Willard, Ohio. But he soon found himself assigned to Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Wis. “We need to add value to the organization,” he said, citing hurricanes Katrina and Sandy as examples. “Dealers lost their businesses and their homes. By knowing their business, we can work closely together and help them through tough times. Our credit team helped keep a lot of dealerships inbusiness,” he said.