[CAT® MARINE] Listening to the Customer: Marine Customer Stories with Jamie MacDonald

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This is a podcast episode titled, [CAT® MARINE] Listening to the Customer: Marine Customer Stories with Jamie MacDonald. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this installment of the Cat® Power Podcast, Jamie MacDonald, a marine account manager from Cat dealer Gregory Poole, talks about how an excess soot issue was resolved for a customer with a Hatteras GT63 Convertible Sportfish boat. At a boat show, MacDonald introduced the customer to a Cat filtration expert, who, in a short amount of time, developed a new type of filter that resolved the problem. The innovation led to a new line of filters that is widely available through Cat Marine.</p>

Sergio Tigera: Welcome to the Cat® Power Podcast, where we deliver powerful insights into the world of Cat Marine, showcasing the latest in technological advancements and highlighting the stories of the industry's most dynamic leaders. I'm your host Sergio Tigera. Now let's get ready to power up with the Cat Power Podcast and welcome to the Cat Power Podcast. My name is Sergio Tigera. I'm your host and each and every episode we have different leaders and industry people who have tremendous experience and are ready to lend the knowledge for you to have a better career, a better industry, a better business. And today's no exception. We have Jamie McDonald, he's here from Gregory Poole. He's a Marine account manager with 17 years of experience and was also a captain for many years. So welcome Jamie to the show.

Jamie Mcdonald: Good morning. It's good to see you.

Sergio Tigera: Excellent. And Jamie, you're coming from the West Palm Beach boat show, right?

Jamie Mcdonald: Yep. I just got in last night. Today is the start of the 2021 Palm Beach Show. We're very excited about everything that happened last year. We're really excited to get out and see some of our customers and support some of our OEMs. So it starts in just a little bit, about an hour and a half away.

Sergio Tigera: Well, that's exciting. So this is one of the first boat shows to come back, right? And so 2020 was obviously an exceptional year, a very different year for all intents and purposes. A lot of industries benefited and a lot of industries didn't benefit. Tell me about the Marine industry, especially around pleasure craft, because that really took off. People I think we're looking to find a way to escape and just to get out, tell me a bit about that.

Jamie Mcdonald: Absolutely. It's a great question. So January 2020 and February were very good months in the Marine industry. We were down at the Miami boat show in 2020 February, right around Valentine's day. And the pandemic had not really got its teeth into us yet. And then come March, our industry just fell. It just stopped. We got very nervous. We all went into a hunger down mode. And then I think it was about a six-week hiatus. All of a sudden the floodgate opened. And like you said, the Marine industry has just been gangbusters. The amount of calls and interest and service level has just gone through the roof for people that currently own boats and people that want to get into boats. You know, Marine is one of those things that during this very interesting year that we had, it was a way for people to get out and still be with family and friends, but in their bubble. And so we really prospered from what happened.

Sergio Tigera: So Jamie, your life prior to Cat and Gregory pool, you were a captain. So what attracted you towards the water, towards the lifestyle, and towards the industry?

Jamie Mcdonald: So I'm from Eastern North Carolina. Some people call it the outer banks. So growing up around the water, I was fortunate to grow up with a family that had a number of boats and just fell in love with being around the water. I went to school for a design degree. I was getting a design degree at Virginia Tech, which is geographically for people that don't know that is in the middle of the mountains.

Sergio Tigera: And it's not on the coast.

Jamie Mcdonald: Nope. I got very homesick. Well, I won't say homesick as much as just missed the coast. And so, yeah, my last two years I interned for Hatteras Scott and I was a design engineer intern with them and that's where I was introduced to Caterpillar. So my last two years of school were introduced to Gregory Poole and then Caterpillar at the same time. And when I needed to find something at post-education, that's where I came on with Gregory Poole.

Sergio Tigera: And so you've been fortunate enough to do something in your life as a career each and every day that you're very passionate about.

Jamie Mcdonald: Absolutely. I mean, it's one of those things that I know Caterpillar is a multi- billion dollar business. They do all facets of machine and mining and all other types of core industries. But my passion is Marine, just the camaraderie that we have. We're a really tight-knit group. Speaking of the group, it is the dealer network. We pride ourselves in Marine. We have a core group of pleasure craft Marine dealers that we all work together very, very closely. And yeah, Marine, I really enjoy it.

Sergio Tigera: Being excellent at what you do in life is very important because other people and other industries, other companies are relying on you and the company you keep, as the famous saying goes, show me the five people you hang out with most and I'll tell you about you. That's very important, especially in this world where businesses are relying on you guys to make sure that a pinch, in the critical moments, that they got people they can count on and rely on. So in life, surprises are fun. But in business, they're absolutely not. And you need to have people you can rely on.

Jamie Mcdonald: Well, our industry is so relationship-driven. Yes, there is the price and there's the product and things like that, but there's so much more about the relationship and in our industry, pleasure craft, it's a passion for some of these owners. So you just have to make sure you deliver that ultimate experience, that great level of service, and that's where you're going to succeed.

Sergio Tigera: Yeah. So you get what you pay for essentially in life. You have a great story, how grown up with the Haters brand, having interned there, and also having the experience with Gregory Poole. Tell me about this Hatteras story that I hear so much about the filter story I want to get into that a little bit.

Jamie Mcdonald: Yeah. So it was interesting. Captain, Nick Millsap, runs a 65 foot Hatteras convertible sport fish, but back then it was a 63, and we were actually at an event for Hatteras down in Palm Beach a number of years ago. And he was having a sitting issue and we had sent down numerous texts. We had some other Cat dealers looking at it. We could not really pinpoint what the result sitting was coming from. So at a subsequent boat show, I believe it was a Lauderdale boat show, Tim Styfhoorn with Cat Filtration, I got him to meet Nick and they talked and I let them have their little one on one. And I didn't really think anything of it. Well, then shortly, I think it was, six weeks later, Tim had a package of custom-made filters to try on Nick's boat. And it was just such a success. It helped with his sitting issue, some other issues that he was having. And it was really a testament to someone at Caterpillar listening to the customer. He had a true complaint and it was something that Tim actually could address. And now the nice thing is this part is now available through the whole network. They call it now the UAT plus filter, but it was all derived out of a customer's complaint, a need, and Cat delivered a phenomenal solution.

Sergio Tigera: They say we have two ears and one mouth, and we should use them accordingly. Right?

Jamie Mcdonald: Absolutely.

Sergio Tigera: Listening to the customers is always so critical. At times, we get busy and so forth, but you never know how your actions are going to land and the impact that they're going to have, same thing with your words and the attention you give to someone because you never know where they're coming from. And the issues that they're having and how you can impact them through your network. Right? You just happen to be at the boat show, it happened to introduce somebody. You didn't think much of it. And look at what happened. Right? The butterflies wings create a hurricane on the other side of the world.

Jamie Mcdonald: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Sergio Tigera: Interesting. And so now these filters are on the C32's that are coming out. Right? And both horsepower are available there as well as a retrofit?

Jamie Mcdonald: That's correct. Yeah. So it's one of these things that it, not only is it going to help going forward with the new product, but it's perfect for some of the legacy product that's out there. It's got a lot of technology built into it. It's got more filter capacity. So it actually traps more sediment, fuel quality is questionable as some of these boats travel. That's one of the biggest things for that team, the rascal, they travel to Costa Rica and the Bahamas, and then they spend the summer in the Gulf. And so they're traveling picking up fuel that unfortunately they can't control what they're putting in the tank. So having that extra safeguard built into the filter has been great. So it was just a great experience to see a team, Cat comes together and deliver again, the word I'll use is solution. And it was very well represented.

Sergio Tigera: So Jamie, as a captain in your former life and living off the coast of the outer banks and so forth, which I know has a tremendous reputation for horrendous weather sometimes as well, right? When you are way out there, give me a story of what it's like to be in some of these conditions. Did you ever have such a bad condition out there that you said, oh my gosh, this could be it, or this wasn't such a good idea to be out here?

Jamie Mcdonald: More than I can care to remember. But yes, part of the job is I've actually picked up my captain's license and I've been able to run a few vessels. And there've been a couple of cases where actually I was running a vessel for Caterpillar from, we were at the Annapolis boat show and we were running to Norfolk and we were in a terrible north wind, and we had to make it to the next port for another event. And we had a very close call with, I want to call it a rogue, but a very strong wave busted out our enclosure, we lost all of our electronics and we knew what coordinates we needed to be going and we knew what compass headings. So we just kept going and finally made it there. But yeah, it's one of those situations that even inside the Chesapeake Bay, which people think is an inland body of water. No, it's not.

Sergio Tigera: Wow. Because it's that big. And it still has a lot of turbulence and currents and things like that. Right?

Jamie Mcdonald: Yep. And again, you mentioned the outer banks. It can be some of the most tranquil waters and it can be some of the most treacherous as well. And with just my background with Hatteras, I've been fortunate to be on a lot of sea trials and some of their vessels. And it's comforting to have so much density underneath you.

Sergio Tigera: So as technology continues to progress, we're trying to squeeze more and more out of technology out of horsepower, out of redundant systems and safety, and so forth. What are you seeing as some of the leading technologies that are coming, some of the most important ones that have come out that customers are asking for?

Jamie Mcdonald: Yeah. So we are really, really excited about the C32B program that is being launched right now. It's taken a lot of those things, you mentioned a lot of the technology that Cat has developed, the MUEC injection system is going to give us a quieter operation. A lot of our customers are fishing boats. So when I call it a convertible, it's a sport fish vessel. And these guys are offshore for 10 hours a day. And to listen to a very droney engine, it can be quite difficult at the end of the day. So having some of these new technologies, like the MUEC fuel system, and other technical pieces that are in this engine are going to be really helpful going forward. The biggest thing for us though is horsepower. Being able to have a V12 that is going to class- leading for the amount of power that it develops is going to be a huge win for the Caterpillar.

Sergio Tigera: Fantastic. And so your plans, you're out there at the boat show and you guys have some booth set up, you're excited to be around customers again. How big of a crowd are you guys expecting out there now and what do you think the environment's going to be like?

Jamie Mcdonald: I'm optimistic. We've all talked to our OEMs. There's a lot of them that have traveled to this show. They haven't been out in a year, I'm again, optimistic that there're some pent up demand and that there's really some excitements out there. I mean, for us being able to come into this show with the C32B launching, it is going to be here, it's in the booth, we've got a team from Caterpillar factory, and again, the dealers that are all here supporting each other, we're really, really excited about this show.

Sergio Tigera: That's going to be fantastic. Well, I'm in Miami. I might have to just drive up there for inaudible with an hour and a half. So fantastic. And so tell me a bit more about Gregory Poole. I know this is one of the longest and most established dealers out there. I think all Cat dealers are very established and leading the pack in terms of supporting the client, supporting the customer. Tell me a bit more about the dealership and your experience there.

Jamie Mcdonald: Well, I think Gregory Poole Marine is unique in its geographical location. We are really fortunate to have so many boat builders in our territory. So we benefit from that, but we also benefit from our ownership. Mr. Poole himself, loves the Marine business and because of that, it translates down to, there's a lot of focus on Marine and it's a lot about the customer support. You mentioned it earlier in the podcast, just about being able to deliver that customer experience and listening to the customer. And that's very much what Mr. Poole's instilled in all of us. So geographically, we don't have the largest territory, but we like to say that we...

Sergio Tigera: You got the deepest in the ocean.

Jamie Mcdonald: Yes.

Sergio Tigera: So Jamie, when you're not on the water when your feet are on land, what do you love to do? Hobbies, family, things like that.

Jamie Mcdonald: What's funny actually, my hobby is also on the water, I've gotten in the last few years into kite boarding. And I love to kite board. So it actually goes pretty hand in hand with running a boat or being a captain, is that good days on the water are normally calm days. And so when it's really rough and windy, I can be out there on my kite board and just try to see if I can make another record.

Sergio Tigera: You got it all figured out. Are you doing it competitively?

Jamie Mcdonald: No, competitively with some friends, so it's all bragging rights.

Sergio Tigera: Awesome. Awesome. Fantastic. Well, Jamie, buddy, I'll let you go. I know you got to run to the boat show. Thank you so much for being on the Cat Power Podcast. This was fantastic.

Jamie Mcdonald: Awesome. Thank you very much.

Sergio Tigera: All right. Take care, guys.

Jamie Mcdonald: All right. See you.

Sergio Tigera: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow and rate us, and be sure to share it with a friend so that you can power up their life and their career.


In this installment of the Cat® Power Podcast, Jamie MacDonald, a marine account manager from Cat dealer Gregory Poole, talks about how an excess soot issue was resolved for a customer with a Hatteras GT63 Convertible Sportfish boat. At a boat show, MacDonald introduced the customer to a Cat filtration expert, who, in a short amount of time, developed a new type of filter that resolved the problem. The innovation led to a new line of filters that is widely available through Cat Marine.