Global navigational brand helped build the local boating industry

Forty years and counting. That’s how long South African fishermen have been boring everybody at braais by prattling on about their fancy Lowrance products – but not for good reason.

The global maritime electronic brand arrived in South Africa at just the right time to ride a wave of boating growth, and has consolidated its presence thanks largely to the combined efforts of industry stalwarts Liz Plotz and Derrick Levy.

Lowrance SA have marked the anniversary with an emotional tribute in their latest monthly newsletter which traces the history of the brand back to 1982 when Levy was the Durban-based managing director of Marine & Boating. He and his colleague Ted Reid – a top bass angler at the time – identified the need for a fishfinder range to help grow their new fishing tackle department: “We established that the Lowrance electronics range was of the highest quality, and it suited our South African market,” Levy said. “So we enquired about getting the agency and we were successful – what a great decision it was.”

Soon local anglers, instead of droning on about the weather and tides, were also swapping stories about the X15 computerised paper graph and other innovative Lowrance products.  Levy had no trouble promoting the brand, initially with the help of Lowrance’s International Sales Director Howard Yeilding, and their efforts spawned a separate Lowrance Wholesale Division called Sonar Marine, led by none other than Lisbeth Plotz.  Said Plotz: “Accolades must go to Derrick levy who, forty years ago, as MD of Marine & Boating, had the vision to imagine that marine electronics would be a thing of the future for ski-boaters and bass anglers.“

“In the first few years import was minimal and only really for the clients of Marine & Boating, but soon other boat shops started contacting the company to purchase Lowrance fishfinders for their boats, and so a wholesale department was created.”

“While most of the current Lowrance SA staff members were not even born when the first Lowrance unit arrived in the country, I am proud to say that I have been part of the exciting journey from the beginning,” Plotz said.

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