David Ritblatt #2, man of aphorisms
On April 25th Brunswick formally promoted David Ritblatt from general manager to president of BNTME , and then two days later announced that BNT was for sale! How much did Ritblatt know and when did he know it? Why is Brunswick selling? Ritblatt responds to this general line of enquiry with some joking about being “in the dark” himself. I’m not sure about that, but I do see his point that as long as BNTME is healthy things are going to work out. Here are more aphorism-sprinkled points he made in our conversation last Friday:
* He stands by his MEJ predictions about developing an even closer relationship with Brunswick boat builders, “The planned sale of BNT Marine Electronics will not impact Brunswick’s strategy to integrate marine electronics. It is not necessary to manufacture Northstar and Navman products to integrate them into Brunswick boats.” Or: “You don’t need to own the cow to get a nice glass of milk.”
* He noted that BNTME just had its best month ever, including a 40% sales increase, and says he’s ‘honored’ by the many ‘interesting’ companies considering an acquisition. “They wouldn’t be hunting like this if the meat wasn’t tasty.”
* He did acknowledge a rumor I’d heard about delays in delivery of Northstar’s new 6100i series, but says they will be here this month (May), and that the 8000i will be delivered on schedule in June. The 6100i, incidently, is a juiced up version of the 6000i with support of Navionics Platinum charts and the new radar scanners which also work with the 8000i, and will eventually work (October) with the Navman 8120. The delay, he said, was logistical as manufacturing moved from Acton, Massachusetts to Auckland, New Zealand, which also resulted in price reductions. (There’s a sad aspect to that move, too, which I noted in my March column about BNTME, Ritblatt, and the 8000i—a column I just happily discovered is posted as a PDF at Northstar’s site).
* Ritblatt also noted that BNTME has a 100 engineers working on marine electronics products and what he thinks is the highest rate (% sales) of R&D investment in the industry. Finally, he gave me an impressive but off-the-record preview of products under development. There was an aphorism involved, but I’ve been asked not to repeat that either! Overall I’d say that while Ritblatt’s enthusiasm is no doubt part of his job description, his confidence in the future is pretty darn convincing.