SeaDek Marine Products, a manufacturer of non-skid products for the marine industry, was named the recipient of a 2018 Small Business Association National Exporter of the Year award.
The Rockledge, Florida-based brand, owned by Hyperform Inc., was launched in 2004. Its non-skid flooring products are popular with boats and personal watercraft alike, and have found international success; SeaDek has increased its international sales by 170 percent over the last three years. The export sales have contributed to average annual growth of 30-35 percent overall.
According to Jason Gardner, vice president of Marketing and Advertising, the award is a validation for the long hours put in company-wide to achieve such impressive international growth.
“It was a pretty big honor. We’ve worked hard to grow our workforce, and expand our manufacturing capabilities, and it feels good not just for the leadership but for everyone all the way down the chain to know that all these extra hours have paid off,” Gardner said.
SeaDek’s explosive international growth has come as the result of a unique business model. Instead of spending huge sums of cash to setup distribution warehouses across the globe, the company has contracted out specific companies in different areas of the country and trained them to custom fabricate and install their products.
“We’ve vetted companies that seemed like a good fit and then brought them into our U.S. office for training. We train them in areas of how to cut the product, how to design, customer service, quality checks, marketing, and we send them back out into the world under contract,” Gardner said. “We produce the sheet material here, we do a lot of the marketing and promotions here, we send them the materials and they go out and create custom products.”
This model has allowed the company to reach customers in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and the U.K., and looking ahead to 2018, plans are to expand into Italy and Greece. According to Gardner, the aggressive international focus is all part of a larger goal of diversification, something that has kept the 17-year-old brand afloat in tough economic times.
“We survived the recession by our teeth — before the recession we pretty much only sold to OEMs, and we were growing very quickly but when the recession hit, boat builders stopped making them overnight… so we switched to custom aftermarket and that’s what saved us,” Gardner said. “Now we want to diversify the markets we sell into, so if the U.S. were to slump for a period of time, we would have other markets to help.”
Gardner added that SeaDek has also invested in its quality control and a research and development department. The latter has already developed a new way to custom laser etch unique designs into their products, a technology that was put into use this May.