Smoker Craft: Innovating Boat Customization through Data Visualization
Trek10 helped Smoker Craft develop real-time sales intelligence to bring a competitive advantage to both themselves and their partners.
Smoker Craft, Inc., is a family owned and operated recreational marine products manufacturer based in New Paris, Indiana. The company designs and builds the largest variety of fishing, recreation, and fiberglass deck boat models with floor plans at every price point. With over 600 employees on-site and numerous independent dealership partners around the world, Smoker Craft, Inc. prides itself on its long heritage of marine experience and outstanding dealer support.
As a pillar of the industry for over 100 years, the Smoker Craft, Inc. team are veterans to the necessities of doing good business and in making fact-based decisions to drive both strategic and operational decisions. This is why President and CEO, Doug Smoker, emphasizes treating independent dealerships like business partners.
“We are a boat manufacturer with a firm commitment to the success of our partners in our dealer network,” Smoker says. “Serving our partners and their customers is our top priority.”
With its sights set on up-to-date sales inventory data, as well as an effort to further elevate their reputation of being dealers’ partner of choice, Smoker Craft, Inc. developed its mission. The goal? To heighten visibility of real-time data at the sales region, in both district and dealer levels, for each of the boat segments in which they compete.
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The company was already capturing multiple data streams in an on-premises database, including Dealer Edge, Syteline, BOX, and Statistical Surveys. Given the recent explosive sales and network growth, Smoker Craft, Inc.’s sales and executive teams felt the timing was right to streamline sales and inventory management analytics.
The first step was to arm its North American sales organization with real-time, intuitive sales data, including but not limited to wholesale, retail, inventory, turns, fast-moving models and comparisons to other dealers in like districts and/or regions. In order to do so, Smoker Craft, Inc. needed to partner with an expert in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to navigate this journey of infrastructural development.
According to Phil Smoker, Vice President of Sales, “Our priority is to equip our sales force with high quality, actionable insights about inventory, purchasing patterns, and dealer network trends, enabling them, in turn, to provide the most accurate information and support to their customers.” Armed with this data, the executives went in search of the best way to innovate dealer and customer interactions at the transaction level.
Smoker Craft, Inc. began its search for a native cloud expert to optimize information delivery to its partners. Initial talks with Trek10 led to the idea of summarizing the existing data streams into an interactive dashboard with embedded analytics and clear, easy-to-consume natural language. Accessible to sales partners around the globe, a dashboard hosted on AWS would increase agility, accessibility, and customization options while improving decisions based on sales data. An interactive dashboard with real-time data would also boost business operations and attract new customers and sales partners.
Knowing Trek10 could provide a robust data system increasing availability, visibility, and usability of sales data across brands, segments, sales territories, and independent dealerships, the executive leadership team partnered with them to steer the project. Together, they defined the primary dashboards for internal sales and external dealer purposes, with Trek10 identifying ways to take the existing mix of on-premises and cloud-based sales metrics data streams and leverage them into timely insights and analytics in AWS.
The experts at Trek10 completed a Proof of Concept (POC) project, providing the Smoker Craft, Inc. executives a glimpse into the possibilities of data visualization in AWS. To do so, Trek10 needed to achieve an adequate backend pipeline to match QuickSight dashboard visualizations.
Trek10’s solution architecture for the POC included the following:
Built an AWS account for Smoker Craft.
Ingested several initial data sets from Siteline.
Selected a series of data tables for baseline analysis.
Joined tables and normalized data to drive the agreed-upon metric of sales turn.
The executives at Smoker Craft, Inc. were so impressed with what Trek10 built for them in the POC that they continued their journey towards a full implementation of the project.
During the implementation phase, Trek10 performed the following:
Automated data ingestion to end products.
Productionized the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process to manage and configure the data. This step improves the speed, reliability, and reusability of the pipeline itself.
Improved the quality of the data to allow for further trust of the visualizations.
Rebuilt visualizations in Amazon QuickSight in order to answer more business questions, providing further value to Smoker Craft, Inc.
Configuring the data to stream into these new dashboard visualizations has improved visibility into Smoker Craft, Inc.’s sales activities. Since the spring of 2023, the sales team has had access to a custom sales dashboard, unique to each team’s district and collection of dealers. The team has used them on an ongoing basis, integrating them into weekly sales calls and visits, both to current and prospective dealer partners.
By providing valuable sales information in an easily accessible manner to their internal sales team and, over time, their external sales partners, Smoker Craft, Inc. has settled into its captain’s chair to admire its competitive advantage over other boat manufacturers with respect to sales intelligence and real-time data availability. As far as next steps, the company aims to provide its dealer network with similar data and dashboards in ways that continue to reinforce trust and improve two-way business management.
The team at Smoker Craft, Inc. chose to work with Trek10 because of Trek10’s deep knowledge of AWS, as well as their proximity as an Indiana-based company. Once the executives saw Trek10’s expertise and professionalism in action, they were able to relax and trust Trek10 to navigate the project through to full implementation.
The executives at Smoker Craft, Inc. achieved their goal of improving availability and usability of sales data, blowing their competition out of the water when it comes to the effectiveness of their sales portal dashboard. The sales portal is simple to navigate and provides useful data, providing Smoker Craft, Inc.’s sales teams with the type of information they need to conduct business productively and agilely, right at their fingertips.