Geoff Tomlinson had experienced amazing success in the automotive industry. While working for Sewell Automotive Companies and Lexus in Dallas, he developed a liaison program between the dealer and the customer that became a required staff position at every Lexus facility nationwide.
It would be easy to assume that the 36-year-old was being fast-tracked for success with the luxury automobile company in the United States, but the powers that be at Lexus and its parent company Toyota didn’t know one thing. Tomlinson had been raised in the powerboat world. When Nor-Tech Performance Boats (www.nor-techboats.com) in Cape Coral, Fla., offered him the position of Dealer Manager, Tomlinson didn’t hesitate.
“There was one thing that was missing from it and that was passion,” he said. “Lexus was a great company and they treated me well, but day to day, it was just a job.”
When he talked to his wife Katy about the position at Nor-Tech, she said, “I can’t tell you no.” Katy has remained extremely supportive of Geoff’s decision to pursue a career change.
Tomlinson’s love for the water was fostered at an early age. His father, Mike Tomlinson, was the highly respected chief referee for various powerboat racing sanctioning bodies. I remember an adolescent Geoff tagging along with dad at the offshore races. Geoff was always respectful and it was easy to tell that he just loved being around powerboats. Geoff eventually became the chief scorer at many events.
He had been working and living in Texas when he heard that the position with Nor-Tech might be open. He sent an email to Nor-Tech president Trond Schou and initially got a lukewarm reply. Schou asked him Tomlinson to send his resume, which included a stint at Fountain Powerboats, where Tomlinson worked as the sales administrator and the international sales representative from 2007 to 2010. His time at Fountain and his experience in with Lexus and Sewell Industries sparked the curiosity of Schou and Nor-Tech production manager Henrik Margard, Production Manager. After a few phone calls and some words of support from Alden Thornton who helped Nor-Tech design the 392 fish package and is on the factory fishing team, Tomlinson traveled to Nor-Tech headquarters in Cape Coral, Fla., for an official interview the weekend after the Miami Boat Show. He started on March 15 and has been commuting from his home in Texas where Katy and four-year-old daughter Mallory still live.
One part of Tomlinson’s history that worked in his favor is that he had worked with Irvin Smith, the former CFO at Fountain Powerboats who developed Operating Management System (OMS) software, which tracks orders and production processes. Nor-Tech had purchased the software, but never really implemented it.
“They really wanted to get that going and start changing some of the processes, mostly internally,” said Tomlinson. “So far it’s been positively accepted from the dealers and that’s been great.”
He said that one of his first priorities is to improve communication between the Nor-Tech factory and its 14 dealers. After that, by using OMS, Tomlinson thinks the company can speed up production time. “We don’t want to change the product by any means,” he said. “We are just getting everything into the 21st century.”
Nor-Tech built about 70 boats in 2016. Tomlinson and the company management would like to see that number grow to 100 in 2017 and early indicators are looking good. The company had a backlog of 70 boats in early March. More than 90 percent of that is center consoles and there are a couple of orders for some Monte Carlo models as well. Tomlinson said that he will expand the dealer network, but explained, “We’re going to be very careful and picky about that process because Nor-Tech is a very hot commodity right now.”
From his first email to the dealers, Tomlinson said he has gotten nothing but positive feedback. He’s going to have the company’s first dealer meeting in May and already has support from Mercury, Myco trailers and Garmin plus other vendors.
Even during a phone conversation, it’s easy to tell that Tomlinson loves being back in the marine industry. “I wake up every morning excited to go to work,” he said. “I get there early and I leave late.”