In 2012 Seac USA Corp., the American headquarter of the Italian Company, was born, giving Seac the opportunity to enter with strength the US market.
At the Dema Show 2016 we have met Marcello Alba, Sales Director of Seac Sub, who has talked about Seac Apnea in the United States.
AP: Marcello, how has the experience of Seac in the US started and then proceeded?
MA: The structure was initially extremely small, with Marco Maestri, CEO Seac USA Corp., and a secretary, a small office in New York and a store 1500 km away in Ohio, while the agents network was the first possible selection, not at all the level we wanted. Growing as a company and as revenue, we have been able to choose our agents network, also thanks to the work done 95% by Marco Maestri, who we have supported financially and dealing with the stock. Initially the brand Seac was not well known, and some even called it “Sea – c”
AP: The creation of Seac USA Corp. has been linked to the importance of the US market and to the will of being close to the American customers?
MA: Yes, for sure, and to this decision has also contributed an important customer in the US. Moreover, Marco Maestri has shown interest in collaborating with Seac outside Europe and so the Company has decided to invest in such project. Certainly we expected to have less difficulties, since in the US it is easy to start a company, but then obstacles come from complexity and costs on a legal and insurance point. It has been a high initial investment, also considering the participation to many shows. In addition, the American companies are very deeply present in the market. We have managed to enter in the shops thanks to our spearfishing products, that have then opened the way for the scuba diving ones. Certainly this opportunity has come from the quality and superior level of our plastic/polymer spearfishing equipment, such as masks, fins and snorkels, where we are at top level, thanks to investments in design and R&D, with our own molds, while the American spearfishing companies are weaker and utilize re-branded asian products.
AP: Concerning the other spearfishing products?
MA: We have had some difficulties with the top of the line sling guns, while the entry level ones and the pneumatic spearguns. where we are strong and competition is low, have worked well. Today, with the new Guun line, especially with diameter 30 mm of the barrel, very much appreciated with its camouflage design, we are having good success. The 100% stainless steel release mechanism has been an additional strong element of success.
AP: Which are the sectors where you still need to grow on the American market?
MA: Certainly snorkeling, for us key in markets like Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, but in which we are still at a start in the US.
AP: Which is the situation today of Seac USA Corp.?
MA: It is important to underline the enormous steps forward made since the start in 2012. Today we have a headquarter in Miami, with 4 full time employees, 8 agents of high level and a stock 5 minutes away, which gives us the possibility to supply the main market, Florida, within 24 hours. The managing system is completely automated, both for orders and shipping. This is a positive aspect of the US, where it is possible to work with automated systems easily and cost efficiently compared to Europe. We even have more advanced systems in Seac USA than Seac in Italy, simply because in the old continent it is extremely hard to make different softwares communicate one with the other.
AP: Why should an American customer today choose Seac Apnea products?
MA: Certainly Seac products such as masks, fins and snorkels offer a very high level in terms of design, quality and performance, and superior to competition, thanks to the high investments made in R&D. In this sector American brands which are very well know and strong in the US, I do not think have products of the same level. In general, quality of Seac product and width of the offer is at top level.
AP: How do you describe the American customer?
MA: The American customer, both if we consider the dealer or the end customer, does not easily shift to new brands, but once he does it, he does it with great decision. We have seen this with Seac, where in the US the first two years of activity have seen growth in sales and revenue, but still insufficient, while in the third year the growth has been amazing. In addition, the American customer is extremely careful to quality, and does not forgive any mistake, while eventually the European one gives you a second chance with a new product the next year. Moreover, in the US the social media activity is so strong that any evaluation of a product spreads around word of mouth.
AP: Which are the Seac spearfishing products that are having the most success in the US?
MA: Certainly Motus fins, in particular the foot-pocket, made of two different materials and differentiated thicknesses, a solution that surely goes beyond the quality of the products of the competition. Still looking at fins, composite blade solutions such as glass and carbon fiber have had more difficulties, since they are made for the European customer that, on this point, asks for very high quality materials, also because diving depths are greater compared to the average 10-15 meters of the US spearfishing depths. It is then clear that our products utilize high quality materials that are more expensive than the fibers imported from China. We have tried these material, but they have been totally unacceptable for our standards.
Certainly in the last couple of years things have changed and also the American customer has become more demanding on quality of composite fins, and also demand of carbon fiber solutions has risen considerably.
Still looking at success products, the M70 and L70 masks have had a huge success, both among dealers, sales wise, and in the comments on social media and blogs.
AP: What about sling guns?
MA: The Sting, the first price sling gun, is being sold very positively, also thanks to the great quality/cost ratio, with high quality materials, comfort grip with great hold, and very sensitive trigger. Certainly the Guun 30 is also having good success, as said both for the camouflage barrel and the 100% stainless steel release mechanism. It is utilized with two or three rubber bands, shafts from 7.5 to 8.5 mm diameter, and lengths over 100 cm, where the 30 mm barrel diameter solution gives more rigidity and buoyancy. The slightly harder trigger compared to competition is appreciated as it gives a feel of greater resistance and safety. The elastic bands are made in USA and much liked.
AP: Which other products have been appreciated in the US?
Another aspect that has been very much liked is the camouflage, in particular the Camo, and also the cut of our spearfishing wetsuits. The neoprene quality is much appreciated, and the comments are that our wetsuits last more than the ones of the competition. Also, the use of Supratex, that in some cases in Europe is criticized as it is thought to take away softness to the neoprene, is instead welcome by the US customer who understands the additional resistance it gives to the wetsuit.
AP: What about future products?
MA: Certainly new types of neoprene and camouflage will be great novelties. Already in 2017 we have two new wetsuits, which are the Makaira and Pirana, and we are designing complete product lines with a family feeling on wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels. We have for example the Pirana camouflage which is made on a green base, and is present on wetsuits, the One mask, snorkel and also matches the M70 green mask. On a blu base we have the Makaira wetsuit and fins, the One Makaira mask and the blu M70 mask with their snorkels. Finally, on a brown base we have the Kama camouflage, with wetsuit, fins, One Kama mask and M70 brown mask, or also the new L70 black and brown masks. This is a way to offer the customer a complete cool set of equipment by Seac.
In America the blu color is preferred, while it is not in Europe. The new Guun Makira is in fact much appreciated in the American market and we have a complete range of blu base products (Makaira), such as wetsuits, fins, masks, snorkels and sling guns.
You need big investments to have all these kind of different camouflage solutions, but we believe it is important to offer the American customer a specific product. Very interesting is the manufacturing system we utilize for camouflage of, for example, the barrel of the sling guns. Such system is called “Liquid painting“.