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Old 06-17-2008, 04:13 PM   #1
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I have been cruising for the last seven years, much of it in the Eastern Carribean. I stopped to work and found a job at the Budget Marine boatyard store in St. Thomas. This was an opportunity to learn about marine products and help people who were working on their boats in the yard to select and properly use materials for various projects.

A significant perk at this job was a good discount on mechandise for my own refit. I had expected to do customer service and learn lots in areas where my knowledge was weak, but due to circumstances, I became the cashier and had less time to educate myself.

I noticed that Budget carried many types of products where there were both brand names and much less expensive non branded items available and there were also many areas where only unknown lines were available.

I made good use of my discount and bought quite a bit of both (brands and unknowns). Much of the unbranded material that I bought has had a poor performance or service life, and I came to the conclusion that a dis-service to mariners was being done. In my opinion, most people armed with foreknowledge would rather pay a premium for quality that would last and stand up to the rigors encountered when conditions become challenging.

I am not attempting to single out Budget Marine here, as I think that they are not alone in offering inferior product in which the profit margins are likely to be better.....I have thought of doing this post for quite a while and what got me going today was looking at some adhesive sail repair tape that I applied to a tear in my old bimini recently that gave up it's hold after a good soaking yesterday. The entire roll of previously applied heavier cloth has never come apart....

It seem that you get what you pay for and I would always like the opportunity to buy high quality material for my boat.
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:43 AM   #2
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What is Branded and what is not Branded presents a real conundrum when considering Electronic products that are the big money spinners for Chandlers. The CASE may be labelled "Ratheon" or "Furuno" or "Philips" or "Gizmo" or whatever, However when you open up the CASE , what do you find? Most of the components are made in China - even assembled in China - then exported to the west to get a label on the box - then sold with "Brand" to consumers.

Budget marine is probably no different to other Chain chandlers, The Chandlers' buyers are looking for products that on which they can apply high mark-ups .

The Budget Catalogue does not list China, Indonesia, Malaysia or Japan--- However they do sell products from Venezuela (cheap fuel?)

Budgets Slogan:-

"Budget Marine imports products from countries in over five continents, including the US, Canada, UK, Holland, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Venezuela and Taiwan. Company buyers visit major international marine trade shows to ensure the latest in product coverage. The mix of products carried by the company reflects the wide variety of demand created by after-market needs that have been built all over the world. Budget Marine has established a reputation for product variety and quality at competitive pricing, which is the basis for the slogan, "WE STOCK WHAT SAILOR'S WANT"."
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:03 PM   #3
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A few months ago we were looking for some new shackles and stuff for our ground tackle. Where we were in the Stuart, FL area there are about five or more marine chandlers, and we went to every single one trying to buy shackles that were not made in China.

We were unsuccessful. I even went on line to try to locate what we wanted, and were unsuccessful with one exception, and that particular source did not have the size we wanted. I emailed and telephoned one supplier that I found on line to ask where their stuff was made, and was told that they did not give out that information. We went to riggers and long-distance hauling suppliers, again expecting to find some alternative to Made in China, and were still unsuccessful.

Back when we were in Australia our 12-year old Whale foot pump finally bit the dust, and we bought a new foot pump from the local chandler. To buy a Whale pump would have meant a two-week wait while it was shipped to Oz, and would have cost about twice as much, so we bought the Asian-made foot pump we could get immediately. That pump lasted about a year. In disgust Peter pulled it out and got a Whale pump to replace it, which was still working fine when we sold the boat 9 years later. Humph!

This is a problem in so many product lines. US regulations often don't help, specifying the percentage of parts made in the US, for example, that qualifies the product to be labelled "made in the US". When we were in Brunei we noticed many tiny sewing shops that, for whatever reason, seemed to perform final assembly on clothing that was then slapped with a label "Made in Brunei" and then exported. It was clear that the entire clothing manufacturing process wasn't done in these quite small shops, but evidently their presence implied some benefit to the marketer of the clothing.

The recreational boat market

I believe that you get what you pay for, but sometimes you can't get what you want no matter how much you're willing to pay. Richard's solution to an expensive boom brake is to have it fabricated by your local welder. That is a great solution, though there are lots of items that this wouldn't work for. Next best is, of course, checking the manufacturer's reputation, both for the quality of its products and its support of their products.
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