International Laser Class Association Removes Laser Performance as Approved Builder
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) announced today. The move comes after longtime builder of the class dinghy, Laser Performance (Europe) Limited (LPE), breached the terms of the Laser Construction Manual Agreement (LCMA), which seeks to ensure the identical nature of all Laser class boats, regardless of where they are built.
“We’re disappointed to see such a long and productive relationship come to an end, but we had to move ahead in order to protect the level of competition and the investment for the 14,000 members of the International Laser Class and the more than 50,000 sailors around the world who regularly sail the Laser dinghy,” said Class President Tracy Usher. With its UK-based manufacturing facility, LPE was the ILCA-approved builder that produced boats for most of Europe, Asia and the Americas until earlier this week, when Usher says the class terminated the LCMA with respect to LPE after the builder’s refusal to allow inspection of the boats being built in their manufacturing facility as required by that contract.
“The very heart of our class is the ability for any sailor to race any other on an equal playing field, and the only way we can guarantee that level of parity is by ensuring that all builders are producing the boat in strict accordance with the Laser Construction Manual,” explained Usher, who said that LPE has unequivocally denied the class their right to access to LPE’s factory. “It’s the same for every class of one-design racing boat: if we can’t be sure that they are all the same, we have no class left,” said Usher, who said that LPE left the class “no option.”
Fortunately for sailors around the world, there are already two other manufacturers of class legal boats, one in Japan and another in Australia. According to Chris Caldecoat, General Manager of Performance Sailcraft Australia (PSA), his company is able to take up the slack if needed. “PSA has sufficient capacity to supply the market until new builders are appointed in Europe and around the world,” Caldecoat said. “We have and will always do what is right for the sailors and the sport.”
“Doing what’s right for the sailors” is really all that matters, according to ILCA Executive Secretary Eric Faust, who emphasized that there will be no disruptions to the the 2020 Olympics or to any major ILCA event. “Performance Sailcraft Japan will supply all the boats for the Olympic competitions in Tokyo, while the next two World Championships are in regions with Performance Sailcraft factories. These are existing, class-approved builders so we expect no issues,” said Faust. “We’re confident that we’ll see new builders coming on line soon, and that we’ll once again have a robust dealer network around the world in plenty of time for the lead up to the 2024 Olympics,” he added. With PSA and PSJ supplying boats and parts to sailors formerly served by Laser Performance over the next few months, Faust expects the disruption to class owners to be minimal or non-existent.
ILCA understands that many of our sailors will have additional questions about this news. Please know that we plan to post a FAQ with more detailed information soon. Finally, ILCA would like to thank all of our sailors, coaches, members and enthusiasts for their support of the class over the years and we look forward to a prosperous future ahead.
An update from Laser Performance on their manufacturing:
4 April 2016
Dear Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Consumers and Stakeholders,
Further LaserPerformance’s communication of January 4, 2016 (attached), we take this opportunity to update you on progress made in the first quarter of 2016 towards achieving our OneLaser strategy:
- LaserPerformance Services has been established in Hong Kong to support LaserPerformance group of companies for sourcing and product development. A team of six design and quality engineers are now active, supported by a logistics team. It is expected that the team will expand to support a unified global program of improved sourcing and accelerated product development.
- To consolidate and unify management and operations in North America, LaserPerformance has established a logistics and warehousing center near its offices in Connecticut. Commencing May 1 LaserPerformance products will start shipping products from its Connecticut warehouse and phasing out shipments from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The move will be complete by May 31. The new state of the art logistics facility is located at: 30 Railroad Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516
- A new direct delivery program, now launched in the US and to be expanded globally, will allow faster delivery time by directly shipping boats and parts from the manufacturer directly to the dealer and customer network. LaserPerformance is starting this program with fleet and dealer container direct sales.
- US-based Vanguard Sail Boats has ceased production of the Sunfish, z420 and CFJ. We are working with our new suppliers to resupply these boats. Already shipments of injection-molded CFJs are on their way direct to customers. We expect Sunfish to be supplied during the summer and z420 by early fall. We will communicate to you specific dates as soon as we know them. Our goal is to have all the three boats injection-molded by the end of the year. We are excited with this change, enabling us to become a sustainable suppler.
- We are pleased to announce that new competitively-priced Mark II training sails will be available to customers for June delivery.
- LaserPerformance globally installed and is now using Netsuite for all its operations. Netsuite is a powerful cloud-based system that provides a suite of integrated applications to plan, collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities including sales operations, finance, logistics, HR, ecommerce and customer service. We are already seeing improved efficiencies in processes, collaboration and data management. Linked to Netsuite, LaserPerformance has implemented Arena, a cloud-based solution for recording and managing bill of materials (BOM) for sourcing and product development.
We are excited about these and other initiatives in support of OneLaser. Our significant investment in new technologies, new premises and new processes will provide for optimized services in coming years. LaserPerformance will continue to update our community of progress made and new initiatives throughout the year.
4 January 2016
Dear Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Consumers and Stakeholders,
Since the early part of 2015, we have been in the process of examining what business model, operating structure and management structure would best fit LaserPerformance in the USA. During the second quarter of 2015, significant changes were introduced into the manufacturing side of the business involving outsourcing of low volume production and streamlining of high volume production in conformity to the manufacturing processes of Laser Sailboats in the UK; and the consolidation of the accounting and finance function into the UK. Recently, we have concluded our evaluations and decision making in whole and with the benefit of input from our management team in the UK, we would like to share its outcome with you.
The Board has decided to implement a business structure that would be wholly conforming in all respects with the structure and practices in the UK, under one management, all as one business, unified, consistent, together and operating as “one”. This initiative will be called “OneLaser” and will conclude by the end of 2016.
OneLaser would make the business coherent with One Strategy, One Vision, One Mission, One Structure, One Management and most important, as One Partner for our suppliers and customers. We are certain that this would enable us to bring best in class customer service to our dealers and retailers whilst servicing our consumers and end users, be it individuals or institutions, with excellence.
The most significant aspect of OneLaser is the leadership of the company by the UK team, which will be supported in the USA by the US team involving the following main functions:
ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT Sales, Trade Marketing, Sales Operations, and Customer Service
FULFILLMENT Warehousing, Logistics, Reverse Logistics, and After Sales operations
COMPETITIONS and SPONSORSHIPS Fleet Management, Event and Race Support, and Sponsorships
TECHNICAL SERVICES While your present contacts will remain the same, we are reviewing our organization to introduce further improvements and efficiencies. We hope to further communicate these improvements in the coming months. We understand these new changes might create concerns or upset for some of our stakeholder. We do however have commitment to and great confidence in this new OneLaser structure and we are certain that this would bring the focus and alignment for LPNA to get ready for future growth in the USA. We have always stood behind our products and extended our after sales support beyond our obligations in a spirit of service. OneLaser initiative is focused on making sure that we continue to do so for the years to come.