Barry Slade is currently the VP of international sales for Regal Marine, where he is responsible for sales and marketing efforts supporting 72 international dealers in 51 countries. Barry has overseen over half a billion dollars of boat sales in his career and has been involved in every aspect of the boat business – starting as a First Mate, running a charter boat, and a variety of roles and responsibilities at some of the top boat manufacturers.
Barry’s illustrious career includes stops at Anchor South Management where he oversaw management of multiple facilities featuring over 1500 slips and 74 houseboats; Sea Ray Boats as Director of International Operations and Global Brand Management, coordinating sales activities for Sea Ray and Boston Whaler brands; Baja Marine as VP of global sales; Director of Sales at Azimut where he helped launch Azimut USA; and Hatteras as International Sales and Marketing Director.
Barry’s experience as a licensed captain as well as a recreational boater and industry leader on the manufacturing side provided the opportunity for a wide ranging and incredibly educational and fun conversation. It is the first and I’m gonna guess last time Stinger Missiles are mentioned on the podcast, and we cover things like manufacturer building trends, how he learned to boat in the Caribbean, differences boating internationally, and a whole lot more. Enjoy!
On getting started in the industry…..Following college, I had taken some trips to the Bahamas on a raggedy old 65’ ketch with 16 or 18 college kids on it. It was my first time in blue water and following some experiences early in my childhood it all came together. I just knew that’s where I wanted to be. I was in the auto industry, I turned in my car, sold my house, and moved to the Virgin Islands. I got my captain’s license and started in the charter business. After a season, I came back to the US and got a job with Hatteras as a first mate on their demonstrator. I feel fortunate and blessed to be in a business that I love with a product that I just can’t get enough of.
On boating memories from his youth…..I had one defining moment. On my ninth birthday, I remember vividly my father waking me up and saying, ‘You’re not going to school today, we’re going fishing.’ We went out on about a 70’ head boat out of Carolina Beach, and I was sick as a dog all day long but I had the best time. I remember the Coke, I remember the saltines, and we caught fish. We had a great day and I fell in love with big water and the ocean.
On his time as first mate…..We learned to sail, learned to work lines, anchoring techniques, navigation. Coming back in to Government Cut in Miami from the Bahamas was always an experience. It was fun but also a great learning experience. Some things come easier than others but by and large I felt like there are others who have come before us and done it so I can too.
On personal boating…..We are fortunate at Regal that there are some boats that we have access to occasionally. Some of it is product testing, some is enjoyment. One of the great things about Regal is many of the employees are avid boaters so by using boats we can be better critics and offer suggestions that make our boats better. My kids have grown up on boats, I honeymooned on a yacht in the Virgin Islands. Boats have been an integral part of my life and especially the enjoyable times in it.
On favorite places to boat…..I’ve boated in Singapore and Hong Kong, the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Mexico, lots of places. They’re all unique. They all have something to offer and are wonderful in their own way. If I had a favorite it would most likely be the Caribbean only because I’ve spent so much time there and have many memories. There are a few places I’d like to boat. One is Croatia. I’ve heard some of the islands are just breathtaking, simple, take you back in time boating. The other is Fiji and Bora Bora. They are overwhelmingly beautiful and seem like they would be good places to cruise and dive.
On building boats for the overseas customer…..There are some differences. We as a manufacturer have to cater to those differences. There are a lot of places where they need enclosures. The weather is cold and the seasons are short so they like a pilot house enclosure even on small boats. Mooring is quite different. Most of your international marinas, particularly for boats over 10 meters, you have what’s called a Mediterranean moor. You’re anchored on the front and tied at the back and as a result you have a passerelle which is a boarding gangway.
On differences boating on big boats…..Your mistakes get a whole lot more expensive! It’s really just anticipating what’s ahead. With a large boat, you have a lot of momentum, a lot of mass. It’s a spatial orientation. Understanding where you are and where you want to go, and how the forces of nature and your engines and thrusters can all work in concert to move you in that direction.
On design and building trends in the industry…..The first thing that is really apparent in the market is the trend towards outboards. They’re becoming immensely popular and we’re up to a full family of boats with outboards. Starting at the 23 OBX, we’ve got a 26, a 29 and a 33. We’ve got a full complement of beautiful outboard boats. The surf market, the tow boat market, is also one that continues to grow and attract boaters. We’ve developed a family of surf boats that we believe are among the best in the non-traditional tow boat segment. Using Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive we’ve been able to create a surf system that creates an extremely good wave but also allows the boat to do all the things it was originally built to do. It cruises well, it handles well, it docks easily, great fuel economy. Everything about the boat that made it a terrific all around boat gets the benefit of now being able to surf. We’ve moved into the fly bridge market with the recent introduction of our 42 Fly. We’ve traditionally been a Coupe builder, along with the 42 Fly we’ve got the 42 Grand Coupe. Large retractable sunroof, single level, and beautiful state rooms below. Were always monitoring what’s out there, what’s selling, what the competition is doing and trying to be ahead of or in the mix with the competitive forces in the market.
On reaching out to new markets…..We want to connect with the emotional side of boats and boating. It’s a big discretionary item, there’s a lot of emotion involved. It’s also a memory making machine. We look at our boats as things that families will use to create memories that they’ll have for a lifetime and we want those to be good memories. They call it pleasure boating for a reason and if it ceases to be a pleasure, then we’ve not accomplished our mission. You’ll see in some of our video the emotion that’s a part of boating. The Dreaming With You video connects back to the childhood emotion that I identify with as a kid, that 9 year old with boats and boating. That’s what bonds us all. The younger generation still has that opportunity. Albeit they’re being introduced to a lot of different ways to come into boating. There’s boat clubs like the Freedom Boat Club, there’s the sharing economy through other vehicles, but once you’re there and you’ve had that experience, we’re all the same. The emotion is an integral part of boating.
On what stands out at the Regal factory tours….The people. We have an incredibly tenured team. Some real dedicated and fantastic boat builders that love it when people come through the plant. They love to show their art, their trade, their expertise. The thing I recall from my first visit was what I call ‘Seeing boats doing what boats were meant to do’ – that is, floating and running. Most of our boats go into a test tank where systems are run while they are floating. They see what a boat is gonna do when it gets out into the real world. The larger boats go into a test track where we can essentially give it a sea trial.
On Barry’s retirement boat…..I’m more attuned to a trawler style. They offer some great benefits of extended range, offshore capability, something with redundant commercial grade systems. A pilot house boat, something with side decks, something with good launch and retrieval capabilities for tenders and toys, a cockpit of some kind is a must. Nice access to the water because I’d want to dive and be on or close to the water much of the time. You look at the market and there are a number of people building good boats like that. One of them that comes to mind is Nordhavn.
On what he would never go on the water without….If I’m just going out local it would be a cell phone. You can do a lot with a cell phone, you’ve got charts, the phone, the weather. So, a cell phone and a way to charge it. If I’m going off shore the two things that are essential are a float plan and a ditch bag, which has many things that you would potentially need in an emergency. Its designed so that you can ditch it. The bag itself is designed to float with the contents in it which would include things like flares, a VHF radio, EPIRB, dye, comfortable life jackets. I even carry a set of wooden plugs so if you ever spring a leak you have something that’s tapered and fits right in. A mask so if you ever need to see something on the outside of the boat you are all set.
On boating apps…..A good weather app, there’s a ton of those. Something that allows you to see the detail in the storm, allows you to see the lightning. Navionics and Garmin, some of these guys have really good apps that tie in with their electronics. There’s one that’s called Windfinder that I really like. There are tide apps if you’re coastal boating. A lot of the glass cockpit technology that you see in the modern boats they have that same functionality.
On advice for someone thinking about getting into boating…..You’re about to embark on a very wonderful stage of your life. You should do your homework and investigate the different ways to expose yourself to boating. Make the investment to learn about boating and boats. Find a good dealer in your area that can help you through the process. You can go to Discover Boating. There are a lot of ways to boat and a lot of different kinds of boats and you want to have a good experience with a boat that matches your needs.