Although he’s avidly involved with sports and recreation, Brunswick Corp. Chairman and CEO Peter N. Larson usually shows off his moves in the boardroom, not on the basketball court. But there he was in
But Larson is hard at work to create his own dream team. Gregarious and determined, this consumer products veteran is shaping stodgy, 153-year old
Before he arrived, the company was best-known for market-dominant but uninspired stalwarts like Sea Ray and Bayliner pleasure boats, Mercury boat engines, Zebco fishing rods, and
Larson’s game plan for Lake Forest, IL-based
“People are working harder,” Larson explains. “They’re looking for ways to get outdoors, to diminish stress, to be with their families. We offer collective activities that can help.”
Marketing studies have shown, for example, that while men buy more boats than women do, they often bring their spouses to help choose. So Sea Ray dealers now emphasize boating as a lifestyle. Rather than boasting about the engine’s horsepower or the length of the boat’s hull, they gift-wrap the presentation, asking customers if they want a cabin they can sleep in, or stand-up straight in, and which on-board amenities they’d like.
Consumer research also discovered that outdoor-types use three or four different kinds of recreational products on average. Boaters apparently are also enthusiastic bowlers—another family activity. To attract more families to its company-owned alleys, and to encourage them to stay longer—and spend more—Brunswick recently introduced “cosmic” bowling with glow-in-the-dark balls and pins, flashing lights, and rock music to transform a staid, retro sport into a modern, interactive video-like game. And Larson appreciates the fact that once you’ve captured the bowling crowd’s interest, you can tell them about bicycles for the kids, fitness equipment for Mom and Dad, and camping equipment, fishing rods, and coolers the family will need for their next wilderness overnight. To reach these buyers,
Larson’s cross-training regimen seems to be making a difference. About 35 percent of
Seven years spent as a nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy taught Larson about how different personalities can exist in close quarters. He’ll need all hands on deck now as
Through this next phase, Larson will be pushing the
PETER N. LARSON
Chairman and CEO
Family: Married, one daughter.
Pastimes: Clay-pigeon shooting; boating, skiing, biking.
Vacation Spot: Telluride, CO.
Underwater Experience: Nuclear submarines, U.S. Navy; 1960-67. Favorite
Film: Das Boot, (Director’s cut).
Inspirational Saying: “No master mariner has ever proved himself in a calm sea.”