Remanufacturers enjoy used PWC pool

An estimated 1.42 million PWC were sold in the U.S. during the past decade. While the high water mark for unit sales was in 1995, when approximately 210,000 PWC were sold, sales during 2002 were tallied at just under 80,000 boats.
On the bright side, however, there was an estimated pool of used PWC in 2002 totalling more than 1.3 million units. That’s a nice market if you’re in the business of remanufacturing PWC engines. Despite the ebb and flow of new PWC sales, three leading remanufacturers say they’ve experienced a boom in business.
SBT continues growth
“We’re 50% bigger than we were just a couple of years ago,” says Greg Pickren, owner of SBT, based in Clearwater, Fla. “We’ve been growing while the new sales market has slowed down in the last four or five years. Especially with the trend of the newer skis getting more expensive, and the fact that hull design and performance has basically stabilized.
“We deal with the market as it pertains to older skis, and what we’re seeing is people buying a four-year-old ski with a blown-up motor, swapping engines, and spending about 25% to a third of what a new boat would cost.”
Founded in 1998, SBT sells remanufactured engines, as well as a line of parts for consumer purchase, and runs a very active forums section on its Web site which provides virtually around the clock technical support. Pickren says the firm has remanufactured approximately 26,000 PWC.
This past year, SBT invested several hundred thousand dollars to purchase a 40-acre lake in central Florida. Plans are to build research and development center there, where living quarters will allow for 24-hour testing.
Called Alligator Point, SBT’s yet-to-be completed research center consists of a fueling station and a floating dock with four slips, where technicians can do stationary run testing to verify that SBT engines are performing equal to stock.
“We test during the off-season, like October to March,” Pickren said. “We’ve built the harnesses and straps so we can hold a PWC down while taking it up to full rpms. We can do four at a time … test them while they are running, and do endurance tests.”
SBT previously tested on the inter-coastal waterway, where Pickren says it was difficult to deal with the conditions and log enough hours with multiple PWC.
“So we take all of the variables out of it by testing it on a stationary dock,” he said. “The idea is that we would put a stock ski in a set-up like this, run it until it fails, see how many hours it went, then turn around and do the same to an SBT engine to see that we’re at least able to get as many hours as a stock engine gets.”
Pickren says SBT buys boats depending on which engine the firm wants to focus on. For instance, in preparing for 2003, the firm researched powerplants like the fuel-injected 950 Sea-Doo, the Genesis 1200 Polaris, the 1100 DI from Kawasaki and the Yamaha 1200R.
Have a problem trusting remanufactured engines? SBT now offers a new one year fault-free warranty that covers the replacement of the engine for any reason whatsoever — even, according to Pickren, if a rider overheats the boat, runs it up on a sandbar, or forgets to add oil.
But SBT isn’t the only remanufacturer offering new product to both PWC dealers and enthusiasts — there’s also a lot going on this year at USA Shortblock, Long Island, NY.
Big changes at USA SHORTBLOCK
“Business is good,” Harry Benanti, USA Shortblock founder and president, recently told Powersports Business. “Besides engine building, we’re now remanufacturing jet pumps, manufacturing aluminum ATV accessories under the Top Notch brand, moving our Tempe, Ariz., warehouse into a bigger facility in Scottsdale, and planning to enter the aftermarket with outboard engine parts.”
USA Shortblock’s customer base is made up of repair shops, dealers and consumers. Three years old, the company is a division of WSM, founded in 1993 to deal in PWC and ATV parts.
Benanti’s first foray into the powersports industry, LLP Manufacturing, was founded in 1971 as a supplier of snowmobile parts and remains the parent company.
USA Shortblock’s Top Notch brand of aluminum ATV accessories, carried by Parts Unlimited, includes performance heads, handlebar holders, master brake covers “and other CNC-type products,” Benanti said.
USA Shortblock’s warehouse in Tempe will be vacated later this year, when the company moves into a larger, 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Scottsdale.
PMC North America is a powersports remanufacturing company that also provides new products for the marine, PWC, ATV, snowmobile and motorcycle markets. Based in a 20,000 sq. ft. facility in Largo, Fla., the firm distributes to North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
PMCNA began developing its own new products in 2000, starting with the introduction of new replacement stern drives, and this year offers a line of brand new PWC engines that are compatible with those produced by major OEMs.
“Some customers prefer new to remanufactured engines, but often find them cost-prohibitive,” explains Tom Harper, PMC president. “We’re offering customers the opportunity to purchase a brand new, high quality PWC engine at half the cost of buying a new OEM engine.”
“Brand new”? Harper says the PWC engines are assembled using all-new components custom-developed by PMC, including crankcase, cylinder assembly, cylinder head and crank shaft assembly.
“We received tremendous results with our line of OEM-compatible stern drives. In fact, customers were so pleased with the quality performance and price, that they began asking us to develop more new products,” Harper said. “These new PWC engines are a direct response to those requests.”
PMC’s new PWC engines come with an 18-month no-fault warranty.

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