Gliding Over the Waves, Inbound and Out

June 1, 2008
Offshore manufacture and outsourced logistics make for success.
Brad Reagan of Monster Tower.

Outsourcing its manufacturing, inbound and outbound transportation means smooth water for Monster Tower. This success story began in 2003 with creation of the company in the basement of a home, rapidly growing, and then becoming part of Marine Accessories Corp. in 2006. Brad Reagan, Monster Tower’s COO (his business cards say “Chief Operating Monster”), was one of the two in at the beginning. An aftermarket supplier, the company sells a number of accessories that go on its towers that mount on ski boats used by wakeboarders.

Wikipedia explains that wakeboarding is a surface water sport. It involves riding a special board over the surface of a body of water behind a boat. It combines techniques drawn from water skiing, snowboarding and surfing.

Although wakeboarding and wake board towers existed before Monster Tower began in business, the fledgling company saw there was a market need for an affordable tower that would collapse into the boat. Monster Tower was designed to be more affordable when compared to the competition, explains Reagan. Up to then, wakeboarders had to buy a custom tower.

“There were other towers on the market that would fit a variety of boats,” Reagan recalls. “They were fairly inexpensive but weren’t the quality of Monster Tower. We designed our tower to be of high quality and so that it could be installed on virtually any boat—a ski boat, runabout or a jet boat. We also made it affordable. With this as our business model we have become the market leader.”

After creating its design, Monster Tower sought to have manufacturing done within the US, but had little success in getting the job done. “We looked at trying to source manufacturing here and really didn’t have too much luck,” says Reagan. “It was difficult to get companies to call us back and to get samples. Bill Bierbower, PE, Founder & Chief Executive Monster of the company at the time had relationships with some companies in Taiwan. He sent over drawings of the Monster Tower and had them do a sample and send it to us. We tweaked some things in the initial sample and eventually placed a purchase order with them.”

Monster Tower headquarters are in Alpharetta, GA, an Atlanta suburb, where it receives all product from its manufacturing sites in Taiwan and on the Chinese Mainland. The company uses third party sourcing in Taiwan to make final decisions about which factories will be manufacturing the equipment. “Once that’s done,” notes Reagan, “we instruct them to have the product shipped with UPS Supply Chain Solutions directly to our door.”

When product arrives at Monster Tower headquarters, minor operations including quality control, adding of instruction manuals and tightening of bolts the only additional work needed. All sales, operations, warehousing and shipping is handled from the one office. Product is shipped to final customers via UPS, as well. “Most of our items will ship UPS Ground,” says Reagan. “We occasionally will use UPS Freight for less than truckload. It’s really based on customer orders. We sell through boat dealers and direct domestically.”

UPS Freight also helps with Monster Tower’s international business in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and Europe, among other places with UPS Freight and International UPS Returns. “Our pattern is to set up a distributor network,” Reagan explains. “For instance in Australia we have a distributor who sells through dealers all across the country. That’s how we’re set it up in each country. And it’s worked well for us.”

Distributor orders will not just be for towers but will include them along with racks, speakers, lights, mirrors and a wide range of products. All of those shipments are organized at the Alpharetta facility and then shipped on to the international distributor network.

Regan uses several UPS tools for supply chain visibility. Quantum View Manage is web-based and permits him to see when a package is processed, in transit or when it arrives. He notes that he uses it “more for outbound shipments. You can see how many shipments you have out right now. It will tell you how many are delivered and if there are any exceptions.”

With Flex Global View, the UPS Supply Chain Solutions event management and visibility tool, Reagan can query the status of air, ocean and surface freight shipments, warehouse inventory, purchase orders and customs entry details. “It allows me to view inbound shipments,” says Reagan, “including less than container load and full container load. Those are both great sites to use because I can see what’s on the water.”

Monster Tower does its product forecast in October and November, then places purchase orders in November-December for the product it will need for the year ahead. “We do like to have inventory, especially during the busy season,” notes Regan. “It’s a fun industry, being water sports. Customers are pretty laid back. It centers on fun, people getting accessories for their boats and then going out on the lake and enjoying them. May, June and July are our insanely busy months. It’s just about making customers happy in that general time frame from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

Eurotunnel Shows Continued Growth
Truck traffic has increased 10% and passenger traffic 11% in the first quarter of 2008. Overall under the direction of the new Groupe Eurotunnel, traffic through the Channel tunnel had a pro forma profit of €1 million in 2007, leading Jacques Gounon, chairman and CEO of the organization to boast that, “2007 shows that the new Groupe Eurotunnel is nothing like the old.”

Select image to enlarge

Claiming to be the world leader in intermodal transport volume, Eurotunnel moved some 1.415 million trucks on its shuttles during 2007. It reached a milestone of moving its 12 millionth heavy goods vehicle last May. The increase in truck traffic was 9% more in 2007 than 2006.

Eurotunnel claims a 38% share in its market. It boasts that 90% of trains leave within three minutes of their scheduled time. Average doorto- door transit time between France and England is 90 minutes. As truck drivers have become familiar with the automatic registration system installed in 2006, there has been a reduction in the average time for each transaction. Such operations took an average of 45 seconds as 2007 began and by the end of the year that time was reduced to 30 seconds.

In January 2007 a revised timetable was introduced for the Shuttle. It is now adjusted for seasonal variations in traffic. Now during eight months of the year there is at least one departure every 15 minutes. Such a schedule was maintained for only six weeks during 2006.

Overall, revenues for the first quarter of 2008 are €187.6 million, an increase of 15% year over year. Observes Gounon, “The results are due to remarkable levels of performance and to strict management of operating costs. They also benefit from the massive reduction in debt achieved through the financial restructuring. The excellent level of activity in the first quarter of 2008 confirms our rapid progress. These results and the future value represented by the Channel Tunnel Concession enable us to look forward to 2008 with confidence and determination.”

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