Interview of Jan Erik Viitala – Axopar CEO

Jan Erik Viitala - Axopar CEO

Axopar is one of the biggest successes of the nautical industry in recent years. During the last Düsseldorf Boat Show, the CEO presents the all-new brand, Brabus. A good occasion to asked few questions to Jan Erik Viitala about the business and the future.

Y&S: For people who don’t know about it yet, can you present Axopar ?

J.E.V: « Axopar was found in 2014, the name Axopar is actually comes from three brands, Aquador, XO and Paragon. Paragon was sold to Nimbus in 2008, XO was sold in 2012 to a Finnish equity company and Aquador started in 1995, I was not in the project but one of the Axopar founders was part of the company. We wanted to use the knowledge that we have from all these brands before and in our own opinion, try to make the best overall, usable product in a marine today.

“We have a hull that is capable of handling any seas around the world”

We started with the Axopar 28, launched in Helsinki in 2014 and now during this show, we have the pleasure to launch the all-new 28. So we have redone the award-winning Axopar 28 and the product himself share the same functionality, the same visual appearance but all molds are redone, all the finishings have been improved and enhanced and also the hull is 13 centimeters longer, 5 centimeters wider, 8 centimeters higher. All the boats models we do of the 28 are now in category B, so they have been upgraded from category C. We had also changed the hull, so from already an excellent hull, we have a new design on the hull, which makes the boat ever more entertaining to drive but also offshore capable which is for us very important because now, the United States is our biggest export. So last year, 2017, the United States became our biggest export market and will continue to grow. »

Y&S: For Axopar, since 2014, it seems it’s a very big success, no ?

J.E.V: « Yes, we have already produced overall 1000 boats, we are having orders for additional 500 to 600 boats, so in that sense, we are in a good position and in a strong market position but we still have a small issue that we are unable to produce enough boats compared to the demand we have at this moment.

“We have already produced more than 1,000 boats”

We have a completely new factory that was completed nine months ago but the first problem when we moved into the new factory, it was already too small because we had  to catch up with the added capacity we can do in the production.

Today, in terms of production, we are producing six Axopar 37 in five days’ time. So we are producing 1.2 boat every single day from the factory. So that is a volume that not that many current boat producers today are capable of doing in this size range of 37-foot boats. That is a great achievement for our team and everybody working with the team Axopar in Poland. We sold all the new production. We can produce boats in Poland to the high quality, high standard but still doing in an efficient way. »

Y&S: During the Düsseldorf Boat Show, you presented a special boat with a special association with Brabus. Can you tell us something about that ?

J.E.V: « Yes, it’s an interesting story behind it. Brabus it’s the world largest ultra luxury high technology car manufactures with sales in over 108 countries worldwide and it’s today a forty year old family own company with Mr Professor Bodo Buschmann still be in charge of the company he founded. Bodo has always, in his all life, been devoted to his job and when he first stopped to see the Axopar, three years ago, he liked the design, he was able to do a sea trial on the 37 two years ago by a friend of him and immediately fell in love with the drivability, the comfort and the thrilling experience he got behind the wheel of a Axopar 37. So he bought one and he tuned it into the boat we can see today, so he was driving the boat number 0, because the boat we can see in Düsseldorf, the Shadow 800, is the boat number one. He got so good responses from the boat he was driving it himself for his customers, for his friends that he saw and we saw a market opportunity together to create an ultra luxury boating brand with the help of engineers and technology departments from Brabus to develop new type of luxury day boat.

“Brabus will remain the ultra luxury brand of Axopar”

So the Axopar is still the premium brand in our range but the Brabus will remain the ultra luxury brand of Axopar. Brabus is renowned for taking Mercedes cars and tuning them into Brabus luxury vehicles. It will be the same base, Brabus is taking an Axopar boat like the Mercedes and tuning it into their version. So now we launch a celebration edition which we call 1 of 20 and the boat will be produced only in twenty copies that why we called it the name 1 of 20. After the 1 of 20 had been built, we decided to go further with the Brabus range. So, for the future we will be most likely doing bigger boats and different types of boats under the brand name of Brabus but they will always be based on an Axopar product. But the beauty with this collaboration is that we are now also developing future models together with Brabus so you will see technologies that have been developed by the automobile industry also moving into the boating industry by the Brabus and also in the future into the Axopar range. »

Y&S: What can you tell us about your success in the USA ?

J.E.V: « We believe that one of the success stories behind Axopar in the USA has been from the all concept of Axopar and the distinctive looks of the boat because the USA is a very traditional market with really traditional boat brands, with one brand looking very similar to the other one. So we  have been capable of doing a product that is different and instantly recognized as something else. This product is finding his place is the USA because in this country, not everyone  wants to buy the same boat as the neighbor already has. It’s also interesting the way of our hull is capable of handling the sea and it’s one of our success stories. We have a hull that is capable of handling any seas around the world. »

Y&S: What part of your business is in the USA ?

J.E.V:« We are doing 60 % of our sales outside of Europe. Of the 40%, Sweden is our number one market in Europe, Norway is number two. Regarding the sales in the USA and Canada, 25% of our production is now going to the USA. We are also doing really very well in countries like Australia and Ireland for example where this type of leisure boat is popular. »

Y&S: What are the projects about the export or the range ?

We are looking very close with Brabus. They will be someday a bigger model for Brabus and Axopar but, of course, we cannot reveal the time and the date yet when it will be done. For 2019, we  are mostly looking at refining the current range and the 45 will come someday but probably end of 2019 of 2020.





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