The parent company of the Evinrude brand says it will cease production of outboard engines and instead focus on its boat brands and other innovative marine products. Quebec-based BRP said it will repurpose its Sturtevant facility “for new projects to pursue our plan to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience on the water.” The company did not specify those new projects. It did, however, announce a strategic supply agreement for Fond du Lac-based rival Mercury Marin to be the supplier of choice for BRP’s boat brands. “Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately. This business segment had already been facing some challenges and the impact from the current context has forced our hand,” said José Boisjoli, president and CEO of BRP. The company told state officials the decision will eliminate 387 positions in Sturtevant, including 181 employees currently on temporary furlough. The remainder of the positions will be cut in phases through early September. The decision will cut 650 jobs globally, BRP said in a news release. The company is also closing an Alumacraft facility in Arkansas and consolidating operations in Minnesota. BRP moved into the boat market in 2018 with the acquisition of Alumacraft and Manitou boat companies and then added the Australian manufacturer Telwater in 2019. As part of Bomardier Inc., BRP bought the iconic and storied Evinrude brand out of bankruptcy in the early 2000s, bringing global resources to the Sturtevant facility. When BRP formed the BRP Marine Group with the Evinrude, Alumacraft and Manitou brands in 2018, group president Tracy Crocker said the new direction would potentially lead to growth of the Sturtevant facility. “That won’t happen overnight,” he said at the time. “We have to earn that business, but we’re off to a really good start, we will see the production in Sturtevant continue to ramp up.” But Nando Zucchi, then vice president of marketing and international business development, acknowledged the Evinrude’s two-stroke engines faced a challenge going up against a market dominated by four-stroke options. “The biggest challenge is we’re the different guys,” he said. “We’ve chosen a different technology path and so for us that’s probably the biggest challenge, making sure people understand why we chose the path we did and why it’s a superior path.” BRP's decision to stop production of its engines is effective immediately. “This agreement brings us an incredible opportunity to further grow our brand in the marketplace and introduce our award-winning portfolio of outboard engines to new customers around the world,” said Chris Drees, Mercury Marine president Get more news and insight in the May 25 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.
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