Monday, April 29, 2013

The First Person In Gets The Best Spot

 

We’ve discussed awards here before, the recognition that comes Cobalt’s way from time to time, and we report these awards with all appropriate humility.  Whether from the marine industry for innovative design, or from J.D. Power and Associates for overall customer satisfaction, or from professional associations for the magnificent record of integrity and service compiled by our Cobalt dealers, these awards serve as a top-line reminder that we need to keep on keeping on.  Fact is, each of the plaques and statuettes in our trophy case represents Cobalt’s refusal to move away from our founding principles. Fact is, we continue to operate on a business model not much different from, no less sophisticated than the Golden Rule itself.

One of our more recent recognitions comes from The Wichita Business Journal, the weekly chronicle of all things commercial and industrial in South Central Kansas, where Cobalt Boats was chosen one of the five winners of the newspaper’s Best in Business competition, which assessed the companies’ revenue growth, community involvement, product innovation, and marketing prowess.   We quote a few statements from the article accompanying the announcement of Cobalt’s win.

“The corporate environment at Cobalt Boats in Neodesha can be felt even before you enter the building. Founder Pack St. Clair has strived to create a sense that no one job is more important than any other at the 45-year-old boat manufacturer. And it starts in the parking lot — where there is no assigned parking for any of the company’s 520 workers. ‘The first person in gets the best spot,” says CEO Paxson St. Clair. ‘That’s the attitude we have here. That culture that has been established here over the last 45 years has been the backbone of our success.’”

“Bill Wallisch, the company’s CFO, says, “If it’s not a quality product, it’s not going out.”

“I don’t think we could build Cobalt-quality products anywhere else (than Neodesha)” CEO Paxson St. Clair says. “This city has always been extremely supportive of us. It’s a great relationship.” That in turn helps Cobalt build great relationships with its customers, both existing and prospective.”

The best rules, like the best laws, are not particularly complicated.  Thomas Jefferson said so.  So do the people of Cobalt.  Treat everyone alike: with kindness, respect, and a wide, wide-open sense of possibility.

  • Look for the good in others.
  • Do your best. Day in. Day out.
  • Be true to your friends.
  • Love your family. 

All so very simple really.

And when the week’s work is done, when the last April boat has been built, the awards will take care of themselves.

 

  Categories: Industry News, Lifestyle | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Luxury Boat


Friday, January 11, 2013

Committed To Building Dreams

 

In the early part of this century, the already venerable J.D. Power & Associates, global market researchers, inaugurated their annual study of manufacturers in the marine industry.  The studies came largely at the behest of Cobalt Boats and other top-tier manufacturers of various sorts of boats.  We were interested in learning even more about the nuances of customer satisfaction and then responding with ever higher standards of design, craftsmanship, and service after the sale of the boat.

There was an industry wide goal to enhance the performance of an entire industry. The result was a runaway leader that produced results year after year. Cobalt Boats was ranked “highest in customer satisfaction” in every single year of the J.D. Power study, which – unfortunately for Cobalt  –  no longer exists in the stern drive industry. But it’s good to know that you still have an ideal means of comparing the features, benefits, potential for long-term enjoyment, and value unto perpetuity of boats you’re considering for purchase.

We speak, of course, of boat shows.  Whose peak season is just now underway.

At a show near you, you’ll find everywhere opportunity for first-hand contrast of  models competing for your discretionary dollars.  All of us at Cobalt welcome your most rigorous inspection of the details of Cobalt quality, under the warm and friendly guidance of some folks who know next to everything about these boats.  At a boat show you’ll meet both your local dealer and, in most cases, some members of the Cobalt factory team.

Cobalt remains a family business, and that irreplaceable kind of personal interaction with customers will soon be obvious to you after a half-hour’s conversation inside a bowrider parked on a carpeted boat show floor.  No survey, no video, no brochure could hope to duplicate the exchange of information that comes in a quiet, one-on-one discussion of your needs and wishes for the boat of your warm-weather dreams. Your personal boating consultant exists in the form of a factory trained Cobalt Expert.

Plan to attend a boat show in the next few weeks, even if you’re not planning on buying right away. Watch the Cobalt Video called Building Dreams to further your confidence that Cobalt is the right company to earn your trust.

Friendships never happen on a schedule anyway.


 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Videos | Tags: Boat Builders, Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Luxury Boat, Neodesha


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

May Your Days be Merry and Bright

 

In our Cobalts we go down to the water to encounter it straightforwardly, with no expectations beyond the time and the place. We go boating with uncomplicated joy.

Seasons Greetings from everyone at Cobalt

In this frozen time of the year when for many of us a leisurely holiday cruise with family and a few old friends is meteorologically impossible, we invite you to pause at water’s edge, to look back into the remote and rarefied places where we launch our Cobalts.  Most of us live among architecture, among structures capable of both rampant functionality and – sometimes – rare beauty, but still far from those untouched and inviolate, vacation places.

And so we ought to enjoy each other wherever we find ourselves this blessed season.  Let’s walk among the architecture of our December circumstances.  Let’s stroll the old roads, meandering long enough to find a new way to other times, other places. Those times have a head start on us, and the architecture of the old familiar places may have changed a bit.

But the doors at home are lockless. And, if we look long enough, a light shines from every window.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Cobalt Boats.

 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Builders, Cobalt Boats, Family Boating, Luxury Boat


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cobalt Dealers Dominate Boating Industry’s Top 100 Boat Dealers in North America

 

Legendary Marine of Destin, Florida was named Dealer of the Year for its rapid growth and thoughtful investments in marketing, education, and service.  This accomplishment marks the first time that a Cobalt dealer has been recognized at the top Position in the Top 100.

In addition, Cobalt dealers were recognized throughout the night, partially due to the massive increases in market share and sales growth that Cobalt dealers have experienced.  Action Water Sports won special recognition for its website, ranked best among all North American dealerships, as did Parks Marina of Okoboji, Iowa for the quality of its customer events.  Gordy’s Lakefront Marine of Fontana, Wisconsin saw its all-important service department named the very best in North America.

Cobalt Boats congratulates these outstanding businesses for their allegiance to the highest standards of integrity, knowledge of product, and willingness to go above and beyond in the service of ever more sophisticated customers.  Altogether, Cobalt dealerships accounted for a full twenty percent of the Top 100. Listed below are the Cobalt Dealerships recognized as Top 100 Dealers.

  • Action Water Sports, Hudsonville, Mich.
  • The Boat Shop, Tafton, Pa.
  • Boat Town, Austin, Texas
  • Candlewood East Marina, Brookfield, Conn.
  • Causeway Marine, Manahawkin, N.J.
  • Cleveland Boat Center, Cleveland, Tenn.
  • Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, Fontana, Wisc.
  • Hagadone Marine Group, Couer d’Alene, Idaho
  • Hoffmaster’s Marina, Woodbridge, Va.
  • Lake Viking Marine, Gallatin, Mo.
  • Legendary Marine, Destin, Fla.
  • Lodder’s Marine, Fairfield, Ohio
  • Marine Sales of Pickwick, Counce, Tenn.
  • Paris Marine, Peterborough, Ontario
  • Parks Marina, Okoboji, Iowa
  • Rambo Marine, Hazel Green, Ala.
  • Rayburns Marine World, Kelowna, British Columbia
  • Seattle Boat Company, Seattle
  • Singleton Marine Group, Buford, Ga.
  • Strong’s Marine, Mattituck, N.Y.


 

  Categories: Dealer Partners, Industry News | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats


Friday, November 09, 2012

The Cobalt 336 Introduces Itself To The World

 

On the last weekend in October the Cobalt 336 said, “Hello, world.”

The introduction came at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show on its fifty-third iteration. The show has become a cultural phenomenon representative of the Good Life in America with displays of apparel, electronics, fishing and diving equipment, jewelry, hats and caps, vacation destinations, exotic automobiles and, yes, artwork and real estate.  The show spreads over three million square feet of exhibit pace with a transportation network of bus shuttles, water taxis, and riverboats.

Easy to get lost amid all the hoopla, we suppose, easy to lose one’s marine identity among the runabouts, sportfishers, high performance boats, center consoles, cabin cruisers, flats boats, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bowriders, catamarans, ski boats, jet boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, and Trumpesque superyachts.  No problem for the 336 though, at anchor here among the planet’s various non-military floatables, no problem whatsoever. Because the 336 will mean so many different things to so many different owners, we saw the 336 assert itself in south Florida.

The 336 is, by turns, a cruiser, a bowrider, a dayboat, an overnighter, a well-mannered sportboat, and a flat-out jacked go-fast chest-thumper. Such diverse, entirely accurate describers come about because of the usual Cobalt abstractions, the qualities of design and construction that transform a boat into a very personalized dream machine. We speak of luxury and comfort and convenience and handling and ride and spaciousness and style and power. And, of course, these constructs arise from the details – the leathers of the cabin, the stainless arch and hardtop (optional), the panoramic side windows, the stainless steel of the windshield, a cabin at once snug and expansive, a sofa nine feet long, the heating and air-conditioning systems, the joystick controls, the shower seat in an enormous head compartment, the 27” LCD HD television and Blu-Ray player – all set in layback-and-loll room for a dozen old friends.

Some of the waves around the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show were man-made, and the new Cobalt 336 was responsible for more than its share.

You would have been proud.

 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Innovative Features | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Cruiser, Cuddy , Luxury Boat, New Boat


Friday, October 19, 2012

A Message From A Long Time Cobalt Fan

 

I think you’ll find this to be an unusual (but interesting) letter from a hard-core Cobalt owner raving about a model that is no longer in the Cobalt line-up: the 343.  

I’ve always been an avid high-performance boater and have owned most of the usual suspects over the years when it comes to high performance off-shore boating (whole thoroughly enjoying my Cobalt’s – 293, etc. – for luxury boating on inland lakes).  One question has always haunted me when it comes to boat designs: why do I have to give up so much in luxury, handling, and ride just to go fast?  I get the whole weight vs. power thing, but as an engineer by background; I just had to believe that someone could solve that equation in a more balanced fashion than had been delivered to date.  Enter the Cobalt 343 – a truly “stealth” solution to the problem I spoke of.  My personal opinion is that the 343 was a great platform that was much more capable than most understood (or gave it credit for).  And, it had all of the basic ingredients from the factory to begin to satisfy the luxury AND speed-minded owner (a little light on the original power choices but I’ll get to that in a moment).

When it was announced, I jumped at the chance to be on of the first 343 owners and George M. at the factory helped me spec out and build a fully loaded ’05 with basically every option box checked, including generator and air/heat (no speed top). Obviously, this boat is not a lightweight contender.  When it left Neodesha, it was equipped with the top-end Mercury racing big blocks available at the time.  It only took one shakedown ride to discover the phenomenal engineering done on creating the hull.  It possessed the legendary Cobalt rode, carved incredibly in the turns, and had none of the normal idiosyncrasies typical of stepped hulls (skipping or skating in turns, etc.). To this day, other boating friends of mine are still amazed by this wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is truly the ultimate performance “sleeper” and now can run at GPS verified speeds that are (in their words) “amazing”.  That statement sort of brings us to part two of the story.

With the expiration of my warranty, I decided to do a little “experimenting” in the power department.  I’ve always found the best results by turning to the best people for help, so I turned to the proven marine power-making leaders: Mike D’Annibelle and the Sterling Performance guys in Michigan (my 343 sits on a lake in Ohio).  His marching orders were simple: build me a couple of nasty blown on big blocks that make a ton of horsepower, but in a dependable, conservative EFI configuration that makes them very easy to love with on 91 octane.  Now I had the pure grunt to do what I wanted to, but as you well know at Cobalt, there’s much more to do on getting the power to the water in the most efficient manner.  Enter the second partner on this innovation: Art Cook of Art Cook Marine in Detroit, Michigan.  Art has partnered with Sterling on many a hot-boat, and has a library of “little secrets” that go far beyond the typical speed parts catalogue approach to going fast.

Mike and Art took the challenge to heart and they personally propped, rigged, and massaged the 343 to a level that is an incredible blend of power and luxury. By their own admission, they were absolutely amazed at what it delivered.  The result: a 343 that will tickle triple digits (GPS certified) at 6000 rpm with custom lab-finished BBlades props – and a hull that is just as confortable there as it is at 60 mph!  And I still have all the luxury and legendary Cobalt attributes (including generator and A/C)! I have seen a few folks mess with alternate power in their 343’s, but to my knowledge no one else has engineered the complete combination that really put’s it directly in performance contention with a bunch of other hot-boat brands and models.  We love to watch the expression on people’s faces as we pull away from they when they’re already at WOT – particularly on rough water when we’re riding like it’s a dead-calm in the Cobalt!

Jon J. Ricker

Well, there you have it.  A fairly short story from a long time Cobalt fan and customer that continues to love our Cobalt’s (I’m thinking about getting one of the WSS-series boats for my oldest son).  If there is ever a Cobalt model in the future that is a “next generation” to the 343, you can again put my name on one of the first hulls.  Thanks again for your dedication in keeping the Cobalt name (and everything it stands for) consistent decade after decade.



 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Cuddy , Lifestyle, Luxury Boat


Friday, October 12, 2012

Cobalt: A Long Standing Tradition

 

My oldest friend died last week. And I have become thoughtful. About things that last and those that do not. I’m old, and my examples of life’s swift passing reflect my age. You youngsters out there, please substitute appropriately.

Now, Cobalt owners and those of you who would soon like to become such, look at your boat. Look there. And there. And over here.  And here.  And recognize again that genuine style operates outside of Time. Look at your Cobalt: its classic lines, its amenities, its so carefully chosen comforts, the technology that underlies every inch of its hull, the elegant simplicity of its profile, its effortless grace at cruise and anchor alike.

Mood rings and pet rocks have come and gone, and we all must continue to pray that neither earth shoes nor disco balls ever, ever return. You know, Cobalt design has not once admitted a passing whim, a fad of the moment. We build boats in long traditions of craftsmanship which in Neodesha, Kansas have come to stay.

I think of my old friend with his Beatle bangs and his bell-bottom jeans. And then I see him again, on his Harley, the bike he had bought two months before he died. And on his boat, his Cobalt another American icon, a throwback to a simpler time. A time when dreams seemed as real and attainable as the malt shop down on Main Street’s red bricks, when the latest pop record spun at 45 revolutions per minute. I think now that my old bud wanted his Cobalt 202 just for its looks, for its classic three-color graphics, glorious and unfading, beautiful today and tomorrow, just like Betty Lou in that summer we all did the Twist.

I’ll miss him, and those long, slow cruises into a summer sunset that, we thought, would not ever end.

Thanks to John Brown for contributing.

 

  Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle


Friday, September 21, 2012

Cobalt Enthusiasm

 

The rains have finally come to Neodesha, Kansas.  After fifty-plus days above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, we’ve become a bit philosophical. About our work. About its obligations and its rewards.

We’ve been thinking about you.

We believe in thoughtful fanaticism.  We value enthusiasm in the pursuit of personal and collective standards of performance determined by the specific, identifiable needs and wishes of our customers.  We understand the particular relationship between boats and their owners, the deeply personal nature of a product whose principal function is to introduce families to boating.  The big abstractions matter: “quality,” “innovation,” “service,”.

But we understand that the such words find meaning in the ten thousand daily completions of small, carefully defined tasks.  Quality begins in the integrity of a wiring circuit.  Innovation is subsumed in the first flicker of an idea for a better brace for a windshield.  Service is a phone call.

We build boats so that your expectations are established after the first ride in your new boat.  Boating is visceral.  It’s adrenalyzed, physical, full of sensations felt, first, in the middle of one’s chest.  And so Cobalt builds boats that thump, subtly sometimes, but thumping nonetheless, full of your family’s best feelings about yourselves and your time together.

Cobalt builds boats for families and for friends. In the realization of individual dreams we find a corporate identity. Cobalt boats have become timeless in the terms that make them uniquely valuable: first the integrity and then the skills of our associates.  To the degree that the people of Cobalt anticipate your needs, your wishes, we will succeed.

 

  Categories: Customer Service, Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Dealers, Family Boating, Luxury Boat, New Boat


Friday, August 17, 2012

A Cobalt Boat Trip to Table Rock

 

My family has just returned from an extended Fourth-of-July stay at Table Rock Lake. A group of people from back home (Wichita, Kansas) built cabins in a rugged, wooded strip of shoreline west of Shell Knob, Missouri, the Cobalts waiting at a dock called “The Have-Nots Hangout.”

Deep-down, bedrock happiness, drawn from the rock formation that serves as a scenic overlook off Highway 165, large and flat this rock, above what was to be original site for Table Rock’s dam and the heaven-sent water that backed up behind the dam’s 1.2 million cubic yards of concrete. Water that, per the younger Cobalt riders in our group, “lets you see your feet.” So clear and, in this year of such very strange weather, so warm, Table Rock’s waters are so deeply green, so often calm that the mountains reflected there mirror in a shimmer the Ozarks’ grandeur.

Even during the Independence Day frenzy, the chop was manageable in a lesser boat, simply not a factor in a Cobalt boat – Table Rock is that big, that fingered. And when a mid-afternoon thunderstorm rolled quickly through and the lake cleared of boats, the lake settled immediately into dimpled glass.  Boaters love Table Rock first, last, and always for that miraculous water.

And for what it makes possible: the cliff jumping with family and friends at anchor to shoot video of the daredevils, many of them barely in junior-high school; the wakeboarding at preternatural, but survivable speed; and the quiet, smooth corner where a little kid first comes up on skis.  That warm, clear Table Rock water gives rise even to retail traditions – taking the Cobalt for ice cream at Big M marina, to Shell Knob for pizza, to Kimberling City for live music.

With its winding origins in the White River, Table Rock can be a fine and private place for hundreds of people, all at once, here and there, with little coves and inlets the defining features of the lake.  At the same time, massive anchorings of party-minded boaters are also a Table Rock deal from the get-go.

And did I mention that you can see your feet?


Thanks to John Brown for contributing

 

  Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Dealers, Destination, Luxury Boat, New Boat


Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Cobalt Boater’s Dictionary

 

Your ownership of a Cobalt boat entitles you to use loud and often nautical terms of every stripe: those that have come fully into the vernacular — “learn the ropes,” for example – and those that remain damp and obscure — the onomatopoetic “garbling,” for example,  “the illegal practice of mixing cargo with garbage.” No garbling around here.  None whatsoever, as we invite you to talk the talk just as confidently as your Cobalt  . . . er  . . . walks the walk.  Do be careful then, as nautical terms do sometimes make for unworkable metaphors.

  • Anchor’s aweigh: Your cry to all aboard once the anchor has just cleared the bottom, signaling that you’re underway on a morning of absolute fun.
  • Amidships: midway between the bow and stern of your Cobalt
  • Astern: at the rear of your boat
  • Ballast: a sophisticated set of tanks and their controls used to control buoyancy and stability on the Cobalt WSS boats
  • Beam: the width of your Cobalt at its widest point
  • Belay: to secure a rope by winding on a pin or cleat
  • Bilge: the lower part of the inner hull, the deep-V hull that contributes so mightily to your Cobalt’s smooth, oh so smooth ride
  • Binnacle: the case in which a compass is kept
  • Brightwork: exposed polished metal on your Cobalt, pretty much everywhere on your Cobalt
  • Buoy: a floating object of defined shape and color, anchored at a given position to serve as an aid to navigation, a floating object frequently struck by other boaters staring at your beautiful new Cobalt 243
  • Chine: an angle on the hull, reversed on Cobalt hulls to enhance stability and  strength
  • Escutcheon: that area on the stern where you have lovingly displayed your Cobalt’s given name
  • Freeboard: distance between the waterline and the gunwale on your Cobalt, a safe, eminently workable distance
  • Gunwale: upper edge of your Cobalt’s side
  • Handsomely: in a slow, even motion as in the retrieval of a line, as in “My, my, my. That Cobalt surely does leave the dock handsomely.”
  • Keelhauling: maritime punishment in which the condemned sailor is dragged under the keel of a wooden ship, the barnacles doing their worst on the poor man; in fact, keelhauling simply will no longer work as a punishment for or deterrent to on-the-water misbehavior, such is the smooth perfection of the Cobalt hull
  • Knot: a unit of speed – one nautical mile (1.1508 landlocked mile) per hour
  • Land lubber: a person unfamiliar with being on the sea; also; a person unlucky enough to have never boarded a Cobalt
  • Lanyard: a rope or line for fastening aboard your boat
  • Larboard: the left side of a Cobalt, less common of course than portside, the counterpart of starboard, the right side of the boat
  • Marina: a docking facility for boats and yachts, the scene of obvious and uncontrollable envy on the part of otherwise quite decent, quite lovable owners of boats manufactured somewhere other than Neodesha, Kansas
  • Planing: when a fast-moving Cobalt skims over the water instead of pushing through it; the adverb/adjective pair most frequently attached to a Cobalt’s planning – “essentially instant”
  • Scuttlebutt: a barrel with a hole from which sailors would drink; hence, a shipboard drinking fountain and therefore, in modern naval slang, “gossip”; a term now used almost exclusively at boat shows in the context of the Cobalt innovations about to be introduced for the new model year
  • Skipper: the captain of the boat, as in “Skipper, are you truly this talented, or are you relying on the Livorsi engine controls, standard on all Cobalt twin-engine powertrains to dock your 303?”
  • Transom: the transverse members of the boat’s construction at the stern, an aft wall of sorts to which the drive portion of the sterndrive is attached
  • Windlass: a winch used to raise your boat’s anchor

Anchor’s aweigh fer sure, me hearties!  And the scuttlebutt is that the skipper is just about to stand abeam and order an extra ration of grog for the entire ship’s company.

 

  Categories: Lifestyle, Tips and Hints | Tags: Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Luxury Boat, Saltwater


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