There are those who have dreams, and those who achieve goals. The chasm between the two is immense, with the most successful marine companies actually walking the talk of innovation. This much is always true about industry leaders, whether a company creates electronics, builds propulsion systems or produces equipment to make boating safer.
Our panel of experts focused squarely on achievements when they sat down to decide the winners and honorable mentions of Soundings Trade Only’s Top 10 Most Innovative Marine Companies Awards. The awards, now in their sixth year, honor forward-thinking companies that are transforming the future of the marine industry through new initiatives, technologies, processes and more.
This year’s judges were Bill Sisson, editorial director emeritus of the Active Interest Media Marine Group; Gary Reich, Soundings Trade Only editor-in-chief, Sara Anghel, past president of NMMA Canada; and Lou Sandoval, former national director of business development for Brunswick Corp. Michele Goldsmith, vice president and general manager of the Soundings Trade Only Group, served as an advisor to the panel.
Microplastics are a scourge of the sea. They come from all kinds of things that end up in our trash: cosmetics, clothing and other textiles, fishing nets, water bottles. And they can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose. Fish often end up eating them, which means the microplastics then go up the food chain into human bodies.
The microplastics collecting device that Suzuki Marine has made standard equipment is intended to help clean up this ever-present pollution. The device comes on all of Suzuki Marine’s 115- and 140-hp outboards, which are two of the company’s most popular engines. Its filter element can be easily cleaned and reused, with a built-in bypass that prevents a clogged filter from causing engine performance or overheating issues.
In the area of sustainability, Suzuki also undertook an initiative that involved the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The company worked with NMMA to promote the use of new renewable fuels, including a 940-mile passage from Florida to Washington, D.C., using only EcoGen90 sustainable marine fuel (and, yes, the microplastics collecting device). At the nation’s capital, Suzuki joined with industry leaders, dealers and the press during the American Boating Congress to highlight sustainable marine fuels for government officials.
Suzuki Marine USA also continued its Clean Oceans Project with beach cleanups this past year. The cleanups were timed to coordinate with major boat shows as a way to encourage industry and public participation. Two examples were the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and the Miami International Boat Show. Members of the public who helped with the beach cleanups were given free tickets to attend the events. Suzuki Marine also coordinated a beach cleanup with the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which cheerleaders and players joined Suzuki’s team to clean up beaches. Next up will be an event that encourages Bucs fans to help make an even bigger impact, with a goal of 10,000 people cleaning up the Tampa area’s coastline and beaches.
Closer to home, the company is working to reduce plastic waste in its production cycle. “Suzuki has expanded and strengthened its efforts to reduce the use of plastics in the packaging and shipping of motors and parts, so far eliminating tons of plastic waste annually,” says general manager Brandon Cerka. “Our company will continually expand this effort to reduce or reuse materials that could contribute to plastics pollution and unnecessary materials going into landfills.”
All of these initiatives are happening at the same time as product innovation. The past year saw the launch of the DF350AMD and DF300BMD V-6 outboards, which have integrated steering and a re-engineered lower gearcase to enhance durability, increase top speed, improve fuel efficiency and make maintenance easier. Also new is the flagship of Suzuki’s V-6 Sport Series outboards: the DF250ATSSW. It’s the first SS Series outboard compatible with the Suzuki Precision Control electronic shift and throttle system, and will integrate with Suzuki’s Digital Pro Pedal foot throttle.
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