Dear Karma Yacht Sales Customers and Friends:
2016 marked the start of the 14th year of Karma Yacht Sales’ representation as the Beneteau dealer for Lake Michigan. Throughout the past 13 years, we have forged many great relationships with our customers, and many of them have become friends. One of our proudest accomplishments is the community of Beneteau owners that we have built here on Lake Michigan. We have helped hundreds of people navigate the happy (and sometimes sad) moments of their journeys through boat ownership.
Our entire business philosophy was built on the ‘belief that waves of good fortune follow admirable actions’ (literally, karma). This statement was always our guiding principle. From the beginning, we saw an opportunity that existed to offer quality products and superior customer service while focusing on the building of long–term relationships rather than quick, ‘one-time wins’. We have always worked as our customers’ advocate, and for many years we received great support from the customer support team at Beneteau – led by Ward Richardson, Mike Watson, Todd Cranford and Debbie Thomas. We also have borne significant out-of-pocket costs over the years, as it was necessary to do this to ensure that our customers’ needs were met. Putting their needs first was always our primary goal.
Our rise from #43 to the top five in Beneteau Customer Service Satisfaction (in our first two years) is a legacy that we are very proud of. We achieved many years of great success, and we also built the largest First 36.7 fleet in the world on Lake Michigan (with 37 boats overall). We reached much of this success because we had a great partnership with our manufacturer. This relationship, like the ones with our customers, was forged on trust and collaboration and there was always a willingness to listen. KYS’ involvement in Beneteau’s Dealer Council (a product/operations advisory group) was an integral part of the process that shaped many of the models that became great successes in the American market. This collaborative environment helped us achieve the near 100% growth we experienced during our first 9 years.
The industry dynamics have changed quite a bit; in part due to the recession but more importantly by cultural shifts in the leadership at Beneteau. Manufacturer-dealer relationships are more autocratic and there is very little collaboration. Product introductions overwhelmingly emphasize very large boats and are becoming mostly power-boat models. While this may be a necessary global strategy for Groupe Beneteau, the end result is that the reasonably-priced, innovative sailboat models have become nearly extinct. These models helped Karma Yacht Sales keep Beneteau as the #1 brand on Lake Michigan for 12 years.
We disagree wholeheartedly with this current philosophy, especially when considering the aging demographic in boating and the fact that many Midwestern states that border Lake Michigan have been slow to recover from the depths of the recession. There remains an adverse banking/lending environment, and state and local taxes continue to rise, which demands more and more from the average customer. All these factors have lessened the desire for products that require a high ‘cost-of-entry’ to get into the boating lifestyle.
It is for these reasons that we have made the decision to stop representing Beneteau as their Lake Michigan Dealer, effective January 6, 2016.
We are currently evaluating several opportunities that have presented themselves to us, and will be determining our next steps over the next few months. We are excited about the new opportunities that exist on the horizon.
Your Midwest Boat Dealer- Karma Yacht Sales