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The Island Marine – Mercury Story
Alex Holder

The roots of Island Marine date back over 10 years, but the story starts when CEO Pinkley Francis decided to turn his lifelong passion into what would become one of the island’s largest engine retailer. It was the start of thousands of advancing memories all centered on the water.

He told Business Focus Saint Lucia that in 2004 he decided almost overnight to explore the option of bringing this passion for boating and the open waters to Saint Lucia, and possibly adding its its vast potential for growth in the Caribbean marine industry.

After extensive research, Francis focused his attention on a possible partnership with the manufactures of Mercury Marine® Outboard Motor Engines and following relatively brief talks be secured the meeting in Miami Florida that would craft the next ten years of his life.

When he returned to Saint Lucia he was armed with the Mercury Marine® franchise and brought that into a market that was previously dominated by rivals Yamaha, which then controlled a stunning 99 percent of the local commercial boating market.

Francis had long decided that the local boating industry was in need of change and was determined to be the catalyst for that change by uniting a quality product and maximizing efficiency of operations while at the same time sharing global best practices on everything product and performance to after sale service provided by trained local tradesmen.

Today Island Marine holds a small in-house team of no more than 8 people all focus on what Francis says is most important: getting customers out on the water.

“We have been proudly doing so for over 10 years,” he said while clutching the company’s most outstanding award to date – the Mercury Marine Latin America & Caribbean 2014 award for the Highest Market Share Growth in the Caribbean, Latin America & the Caribbeanin February 2015.

This feat, Francis credits entirely to the Island Marine team for their endorsement to the company’s vision and their commitment to the sustained growth of the operation.

Overall Island Marine has managed to take hold of 20 percent of the marine commercial/fishing industry in Saint Lucia – taking 19 percent away from its Yamaha distributing competitors.

But where the really astonishing accomplishments stand, is the company’s ability to secure a magnificent 80 percent of the luxury, pleasure boats and charter end of the local industry.

Francis admits that he has not aggressively gone after the commercial end of the marine industry simply because the ability to provide adequate after-sale service is as important to him as the market share he controls.

He professes to have adopted the Mercury Marine® method of business, service and growth with a long history of firsts and foremosts, constant improvements and the catalysts for the elevation of global standards that demand reliable, trouble-free performance, superior power and torque, low emission, and low fuel consumption.

Mercury Marine® has been making world-class outboards and sterndrives for more than 75 years, beginning its operations in 1939 in a small machine shop in Wisconsin, USA. It has since grown into the largest builder of marine propulsion systems in the world. It is unquestionably number one on the water.

Island Marine has joined Mercury Marine® in providing boaters with more more ways to propel their specific boats, activities, and pursuits reliably, comfortably, and efficiently across the water.

“We do not need 100 percent of the market. We want to continue to marry growth with capacity,” Francis said, adding that training and certification is a key factor in the company’s operations.

The company has taken its principle of training and development and understanding of the industry to a level beyond its small permanent staff and vast team of outsourced talent by joining hands with the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in awarding internships to scores of potential industry players.

Pinkley Francis believes the marine industry in Saint Lucia is on the cusps of its greatest expansion period yet and he has positioned himself and all those under his influence in a state of readiness to capitalize both economically and professionally on this growth.

“We are focusing not only local boats but we have positioned ourselves in a manner that would instill confidence in the international boating community in our ability to sustain this growth. This is what would assure our economic gains,” Francis said.

He added, “Boating is a lifestyle and we need to get more people, more locals involved. Government and other stakeholders must play their part because some of our immediate neighbouring islands have already propelled themselves ahead of us and we need to catch up quickly or we will continue to loose greatly.”

Francis believes this change and propulsion in the right direction is not too far off for with an increasing number of locals getting involved.

(Business Focus St. Lucia 2015)