On Tuesday and Wednesday 20 & 21 August, Dealer Principles and Representatives met in Deerfield Beach, FL for their semi-annual Caribbean Dealer Conference.  Dealerships from the USVI to Trinidad were in attendance.  A wide range of issues were discussed, and factory representatives were updated on issues arising from Dealers’ Territories.  The Caribbean is a prime cruising area for owners’ of Northern Lights Products and the factory encourages these meetings to get feedback from their customers and monitor the level of service their Caribbean Dealership is able to provide.
New products were discussed, including the new generator pan and sound enclosure designs.  The combination has resulted in reductions of overall package designs by nearly 30%.  Product changes initiated by suggestions from previous meetings, such as cast stainless steel exhaust elbows and attachment bolts, were shown. New generator models up to 500 kw, currently under development were unveiled.
A general discussion on what freight methods from the US to the Caribbean were discussed, with particular emphasis on the fastest method of shipping to each country.  Ideas were also generated on how they could reduce the cost of shipping, to improve customer satisfaction.  Although some countries are able to import items on a duty free basis for Yachts in Transit, all countries impose some costs, such as Brokerage Fees and Government surcharges.  There is no solution for these charges and so parts prices suffer the unavoidable additional costs.
Comparison of the Northern Lights products vs other Marine Generators was discussed.  It was generally felt that the NL product required less maintenance, used far fewer parts, was easier to repair, had far more parts redundancy, and ran longer than anything else on the Market today.  The competition, with more than 30 ways to shut down, was generally felt to be less reliable.  A major differentiator was the factory support that is offered by Northern Lights.  Although most of the dealers attending are dealers for at least one other Marine Generator manufacturer, none had the level of support they experience with NL with any other manufacturer.  The 3 levels of service and parts support they got from Parts & Power, the factory branch in Deerfield Beach, and the factory in Seattle allowed them to get assistance as late as 2100 local time for both technical and parts assistance.  No other manufacturer even comes close to this support.  The overall cost of ownership with Northern Lights was felt to be significantly less than any competitor, despite the fact that the NL product was slightly more expensive up front. All of these factors make the NL product uniquely qualified for customers in the Caribbean, as they put far more hours on their generators than most pleasure craft owners.  Dealers reported that their customers routinely put between 1,000 and 4,000 hours per year, as opposed to less than 500 for the average pleasure craft owner.
The website was discussed and ways to make it more attractive and user friendly were suggested.  Parts Specials are being advertised on the website currently.
Warranty policy and claim procedures were discussed. With a 1 year parts and labor, second year parts and limited 5 year policy, the NL warranty is the best in the Industry. Means of submitting warranty claims on line was demonstrated.  It was revealed that warranty on the NL product was less than 1%, which is the lowest in the Industry.
The Technicold brand of Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Load Banks was discussed.  Northern Lights design criteria were used in designing the products.  Robust 316 s/s is used throughout the constructions.  Off the shelf, non-proprietary, controls assure that the products can be repaired anywhere in the world.  Automatic load banks are freshwater cooled and far outlive the competition.  In fact, NL has never sold a heating element replacement part in their long history of providing the load banks. Several Dealers expressed interest in becoming Technicold dealers after seeing the features and benefits of the product line. The robust construction and reliability are important to their customers.
The subject matter was interesting enough that all the participants remained on at the Conference well after the planned ending time of noon on Wed.