New sterndrives costing $3,000 plus. Rebuilt stern drives going for $2,000 plus. Other options nonexistent or equally bad. For Sterndrive Engineering's founder, president and owner, Greg Pickren, that was simply unacceptable. "What's a guy to do if his ten-year-old boat needs a drive overhaul?" says Pickren. "Is his boat totaled and destined to become a flower pot in the back yard?" Such a dilemma was the beginning of the quest for Sterndrive Engineering to find a better way.
Wal-mart did it. Home Depot did it. Autozone did it. By eliminating the middle-man, Sterndrive Engineering was also able to find a way to slash costs and deliver a quality product at a rock bottom price. "It's simply amazing how many layers of distribution exist in the marine industry,” says Pickren. By directly contracting with manufacturers to produce parts, such as cases, gears and shafts, and then assembling them at their factory in Oldsmar, Florida, Sterndrive Engineering is able to offer replacement drives at a fraction of the previous market prices. These costs savings are then passed along to the customer.
Is quality sacrificed? "No way!" exclaims Pickren. “In fact, we feel so strongly about the quality of our drives that we have extended our warranty to a three-year, fault-free warranty. This warranty covers any type of damage that requires the drive to be repaired or replaced including hitting underwater objects, sucking up fishing line, or even dragging the drive up a launch. It's all covered, no questions asked.”
Sterndrive Engineering spent two years doing research, design, development and testing before introducing its stern drive in 2004. Sterndrive Engineering operates one of the only private research lakes for marine product testing in the country. All of the component parts were tested extensively on a stationary dock enduring hundreds of hours of run time. "Our gas bills were staggering, even back then,” says Pickren. "Run it 'til it breaks was our motto."
Stern drive gears are by design some of the most over stressed gears in the world. Using the most advanced technology and materials is critical. While Sterndrive Engineering's gears are made in Asia, the 4820 steel alloy used a rather unique alloy. There are Japanese alloys that are similar, but none of them have the hardness and durability features that are needed for our gears." Sterndrive Engineering's gears are also shot peened and cryogenically treated. Both of these technologies add significantly to the life of the gears. "As far as we know, we are the only company cryogenically treating sterndrive gears." says Pickren.
Sterndrive Engineering has quickly become the largest supplier of aftermarket stern drives in the world. Pickren proudly remarks "Almost every day a customer tells us thank you for saving him over $1,000 and getting his boat running again. It's this kind of feedback that gets us excited about what we do.”