A Change of Course

A Change of Course

Carver introduces two new boat lines and, in the process, aims to change its entire image.

By Richard Thiel — March 2003

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• Part 3: Carver

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Companies are living things: They must either grow or die, and part of their growth usually involves periodic efforts to reinvent themselves. They do this partly because the marketplace is constantly evolving. Simply stated, if a company--even a very successful company--stands still, the marketplace will eventually pass it by.

Boatbuilders are no exception. Here the imperative to change can take many forms, but one of the most common is altering both image and products to better blend with consumers' demand for more luxury, style, and amenities. A decade ago, builders could get away with Formica cabinets, shag carpeting, and bunny fur; today they couldn't give that stuff away. To deal with consumers' evolving tastes, a builder typically takes a two-prong approach: upgrading the amount of standard equipment, improving overall build quality, and using more sophisticated construction materials, while promoting a more upscale image in advertising and promotional materials so it can charge more money to cover its expenses.

Carver is a perfect example. Long known for its high-value, high-volume, but not necessarily stylish or luxurious family cruisers, it made the decision to go upmarket with the introduction of its Voyager series of motoryachts in 1998. First came the 530, then the 450, both undeniably a step above the company's Mariners, Sport Sedans, and Motor Yachts. Along with this came a more elegant marketing campaign that touted the improvements and emphasized the word yachts.

In 2000, when it came time to create the next series of Voyagers, Carver decided it wanted to again take the line--and indeed the entire brand--to the next level. In fact, it wanted to create an entirely new line above and beyond the Voyagers. The result, the first of the Marquis Series, the 59, was unveiled at the 2003 Miami International Boat Show, and anyone who has seen her will tell you that she bears only a passing resemblance to any other Carver. Her bold, sweeping lines are a courageous step for what only a few years ago we would have described as a staid Midwestern builder of family cruisers.

There's good reason why the 59 doesn't look like a Carver. In designing her, company executives made an early and critical decision to tap the talents of a major design firm for the first time. Carver president Bob Van interviewed a number of them and settled on Venice, Italy-based Nuvolari & Lenard, whose credits include Palmer Johnson's Mostro and La Baronessa and the CRN-built Magnifica. (Nuvolari & Lenard also designed a line of three boats for Mochi Craft, which would figure largely in the creation of the new Carver.) He says he picked the firm because of its experience and ideas and, just as important, because the partners were easy to work with. "We just hit it off," says Van.

Next page > Carver, Part 2 > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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