A change in direction, but the same commitment

Posted on Written by Bill Sisson
Bill Sisson

We’re in the midst of tough times once more, nothing new for veterans of this industry. The economists refer to our ups and downs as cyclical, a nice clinical term but one that really doesn’t begin to describe the roller coaster most of us have been riding for the last year.

But good times or bad, here’s something that hasn’t changed.

The thing that drew many of us into this business — and keeps us here today, despite the dips and downturns we’ve weathered — is our passion for boats and the water. This has always been more than just a job, more than simply a way to make a living.

My stake in this industry and this pastime is both personal and professional. It’s my work and my recreation. My four children have grown up around magazine offices and boats and everything that goes with both of them. Their father was the one with the fishing rod and boat bag in one hand, a bunch of stories in need of editing in the other, a reporter’s notebook in his back pocket. Some things never change.

As the new editor of Soundings Trade Only, it is a privilege to be able to address all of you through the pages of this magazine as well as by way of our daily e-newsletter and our new Web site. In the coming months, you’ll see a number of exciting changes within Trade Only. We’ve already begun expanding our coverage and the depth of our reporting on the industry. Our special report this month highlighting three veteran dealers and their advice for surviving this latest downturn is one such example. We’ll also be introducing new voices and providing fresh insight and analysis of the issues, newsmakers and events that shape our corner of the world.

In my more than 25 years with Soundings Publications, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Trade Only evolve into a respected marine business journal. During that period, I’ve worked as a reporter, writer and for the last 10 years chief editor of Soundings magazine, sister publication to Trade Only and our company’s oldest marine title, which turns 46 next year.

As one of the more seasoned hands on this ship, I had both the opportunity and honor of working for a number of years alongside the late Jack Turner, the smart, iconic and creatively restless publisher who founded both Soundings and Trade Only. Jack dreamed up Soundings sitting around a kitchen table one night with a bottle of gin, two friends and not a whole lot of money. Try that today. Even back then it wasn’t easy, but Jack was a larger-than-life character. An English graduate of Colgate University and a Marine Corps veteran, Jack was a publisher, fiction writer, sailor, boatbuilder, woodworker, gardener, home chef, artist and more.

Jack has been on my mind recently for two reasons. One goes to the very foundation on which he built both magazines. He insisted on fair, accurate and objective reporting, and he valued crisp, concise writing. That won’t change under this watch.

This current slump has also given me cause to reflect on earlier days, when our large, imposing skipper was at the helm, and storm clouds were closing in. We weathered a number of big blows in the ship that Jack built, even though there were times when all hands had to man the pumps to keep from sinking.

We — and I mean that collectively — will make our way through this stretch of rough water, as well. Leaner, wiser and, by being as smart, savvy and tough as these times demand, ready to take advantage of improving conditions when the winds finally shift.

I’d also like to tip my hat to outgoing editor Lois Caliri for the time and effort she put into Trade Only and for her dedication to quality. Her farewell follows.

 

*    *    *
 
I want to say thank you to each of you who have helped me navigate my way through this industry. Your valuable input contributed to some of the finest issues of Soundings Trade Only.
 
But all good things come to an end. I am charting a new course in my life. As a breast-cancer survivor, I will be the proprietor of a boutique shop that will sell products and offer services to women who are undergoing and recovering from breast cancer. Now it will be my turn to cope with the issues that keep you awake at night — managing inventory, balancing my cash-flow sheet, dealing with insurance providers, and keeping customers happy, just to name a few.
 
Bill Sisson’s exemplary journalism talents will serve you well. You have my best wishes, and let’s hope for an improved business climate in 2009.
 
— Lois Caliri

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