With three strategic national shipping warehouses and an army of vendors, it’s no wonder CP Performance is regarded as a marine parts superstore for go-fast boats. Between its own catalog and its affiliates’ products, the Rohnert Park, Calif., company boasts the largest aftermarket performance parts offering of anyone anywhere.
Seemingly undisturbed by market changes and rough economic waters, CP Performance is forging ahead behind the leadership of founding partner Mike Mays. In the following interview, Mays, who has been part of the marine industry for more than 30 years, talked with OffshoreOnly.com about CP Performance’s business strategies and what lies ahead for the company.
CP Performance boasts being the world’s leading marine mail order superstore. How has business been lately?
So far, 2012 has been a great year for us. This is due to the fact that we have the largest inventory of aftermarket performance marine products and accessories in the world. With more than 300 brands and thousands of products on the shelf, it has allowed our true strengths to really shine and puts us in a unique spot. That spot is the one where we can deliver our clients their parts when they want them, which is faster. The fact that manufacturers have built up longer lead times and other distributors have reduced inventory has just transferred a greater load to us and we were ready and well prepared to deal with it.
The success of 2012 has us building even more inventory and making larger purchases for the 2013 season. The most exciting part of this is that it has allowed us to take advantage of some great buys, which allows us to reduce costs and pass on the savings to our customers. Currently we are gearing up for the upcoming holiday season and plan to offer some amazing deals on products that we will be offering during that time.
How do you address the pressure of being a leader in the business?
Being at the forefront means you have to be focused and committed and there’s no one more committed than us. Our clients depend on us as a resource to make sure they get to use their boat when they want to. We’ve made huge investments in our operations and computer technology within our company. And we’ve added staff, which is a great feeling to help put more people back to work during these times.
Do you receive much customer feedback, and if so, does it have any influence over what kinds of products you sell?
Customer input is the number one driving force behind our company. Because of this, you can find our management at nearly every top marine show or event in the country talking with customers about what they want or what they wish was available for a certain need. Often that information is used to add product lines or even passed on to our leading manufactures for development ideas. Many of our top-selling products were ideas that came from our clients. Word of mouth has long been our most rewarding reference as this is still where the largest growth of our customer base comes from.
In regard to ways of enhancing the buying experience, how is CP Performance different from other parts distributors?
We know what our customers want. It’s not only what they may want or need, but actually what they desire for their boat. We are introducing new technologies that are allowing us to improve the shopping experience. Our website is amazing—the amount of technical support and the color images shot by professional photographers truly enhances the product presentation. We also produce the industry’s only 350-page full-color catalog annually for those of us who still love to flip through a catalog.
We have an entire in-house IT team that is developing some revolutionary systems that we’ll debut in 2013. The customer experience is literally improving every week and we are continually assessing and evaluating our performance of operations. We have adopted new operations advancements that allowed us to move more products into the warehouse and cut order-processing time by more than 30 percent. This has translated directly into increased shipping production.
Can you provide any details on what boaters can expect from CP Performance in the near future?
The one thing I can tell you is more product selection. We have added more product lines and more new part numbers in the past six months than we have in a number of years. Manufacturers are again turning out new products and that’s exciting for all of us. For example, up until recently maybe there was only a single option for a particular product, say a throttle, pump, mount, etc. Well now there are options to choose from. This is a big deal for boaters looking to refurbish or update an older boat with performance parts or the latest creature comforts.
Photos courtesy of CP Performance.
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com, and writes for Sportboat and Powerboating in Paradise magazines.