After a five-year hiatus, Mercury Marine organized a media event in New Orleans, Louisiana this week. Approximately 20 members of the recreational marine media, from countries including Canada, the US and the Dominican Republic, were present to test Mercury's latest power options and technologies incorporated into a dozen Brunswick boat brand models.
The event provided journalists the opportunity to experience Mercury Marine technologies firsthand on a stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway near the southern side of Lake Salvador, southwest of New Orleans. Mid May is spring shrimp season in Louisiana, providing an interesting backdrop for boat tests as an industry utilizing marine products focused on work essential for the livelihood of many along the bayou.
In addition to product testing, Mercury Marine's President, Mark Schwabero and Vice President – Product Development Engineering and Racing, David Foulkes made presentations on the company's current position in the market and goals moving forward.
"The only economy in the world that's held pretty constant for our businesses is Canada's,' says Schwabero. "Everywhere else has seen some change. We wanted to come out of the downturn in the industry stronger and better able to compete in a smaller and different market. We're really proud of what we've accomplished over these past few years. We're feeling pretty good about where we're at right now.'
Mercury Marine has a number of defined sustainability targets it hopes to achieve in the coming years.
By 2015, the company hopes to reduce its annual energy consumption by 30 percent from its 2005 levels. By 2017, it hopes to have it down by 45 percent. In 2012, Mercury made a move toward that goal when it completed the migration of its sterndrive operations from its former Stillwater, Oklahoma facility to its Fond du Lac campus in Wisconsin. The move served to consolidate the company's production operations, resulting in energy savings and improved environmental compliance through emissions reduction. Other recent improvements at Mercury's Fond du Lac plant have also helped save energy. Changes to the plant's paint systems are said to annually conserve 27 billion BTUs – enough to power nearly 700 homes for a year – and reduce volatile organic compound emissions and hazardous waste by 50 percent. Additionally, the company estimates that its cooling-tower heat-recovery system at the plant saves 14 million BTUs annually. The system recovers previously lost process heat to warm outside air brought into the building.
Regarding the environment, Mercury is aiming to reduce water use at its facilities by 20 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2015 and by 30 percent by 2017. The company hopes to achieve this through several means, including process water reuse. Recent improvements to the paint systems, such as a switch from wet to powder coat paint, has helped the company make progress toward its goals.
Mercury has several product stewardship improvement targets as well. By 2015, it hopes to reduce outboard emissions by 70 percent compared to 2005 levels, completely transition from two-stroke to four-stroke technology and reduce sterndrive emissions by 60 percent (compared to 2005 levels). Mercury also plans to introduce 25 new products that will increase product fuel efficiency by 5 percent. For 2017, emission reduction targets jump to 74 percent for outboards and 65 percent for sterndrive engines. The four-year target also includes offering engine maintenance monitoring capability on all engines 150hp and above.
The company is also seeking to implement a number of quality of life improvements in the coming years for its employees. By 2015, Mercury says it will engage 25 percent of its growing workforce in at least 20 hours of community involvement activities throughout the year. By 2017, it wants 50 percent of its workforce participating in wellness activities and 35 percent involved in at least 20 hours of community each year.
Mercury Marine, founded in 1939, reported $2 billion in revenues in 2012 and employs 5,600 people globally. In 2014, the company will host a special event at its Fond du Lac plant in recognition of its 75th Anniversary.