Letters from the Editor

The adjustment to a shrinking boating universe

The downward trajectory in boat registrations comes as no surprise to people such as Info-Link’s Jack Ellis, who makes his living working with numbers and spotting trends and patterns. Registrations fell for the second consecutive year in 2011, to about 12.17 million boats. That represents a decrease of about 265,000 from 2010, when the numbers…more

The silver lining’s coming into focus, but oh so slowly

There was a weekend last summer when the harbor and bay and anchorage where I do a good bit of my boating was just about filled to the gills with boats. It was one of the first times since the economy went downhill that the tribe seemed to be back in full force. It had…more

It’s payoff time for recession’s R&D disciples

The headline surprised me: “U.S. to be World’s Top Oil Producer in 5 Years.” Just a few years ago, who’da thunk it? Recently I was studying a series of photos showing a triple-outboard-powered boat crabbing into a slip with the outboards positioned at different angles? Just a few years ago, who’da thunk that? Innovation and…more

The boat isn’t the only thing you’re delivering

There was a lot of experience on the small stage in the IBEX seminar room, which meant that a lot of real-world advice was dispensed. Speakers Bing Fishman and Don MacKenzie are not, after all, pie-in-the-sky guys. They’ve been on the front lines of sales and customer service for their entire careers and have a…more

Serious, savvy buyers returning to docks as new boats arrive

About the same time that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was announcing an aggressive program to buy mortgage-backed securities to boost the economy, a middle-aged couple stepped aboard a new Cutwater powerboat and began a close inspection. It was the opening day of the Newport International Boat Show and I was on the boat talking…more

An efficient way to chart your boat’s health

Let’s face it. Boats are only going to get more complex and content-rich. More and more, they resemble our cars and our homes in terms of features, comforts and systems. All good, right? Well, yes and no. For an industry where poor service and reliability are sometimes cited as reasons newcomers leave the ranks, how…more

When economy collapsed, he ‘built the reputation’

In another lifetime, when Scott Hanson was in corporate advertising and communications, he did an analysis for a bank comparing the post-recession performance of companies that dramatically cut their marketing during downturns with those that didn’t. Not surprisingly, businesses that stayed in the market and continued to toot their horn did significantly better when things…more

Wanted: the next wave of hands-on industry techs

As the economy and the recovery eventually strengthen, the industry will need a broader pool of skilled workers to build and service the next generation of boats, which will only increase in sophistication. It’s also fair to say that like the aging demographic of the boat owner, the labor force in our industry is also…more

Data reveal that we’re not hooking enough boaters

It’s funny what you can find when you look closely at numbers. We all know the big numbers. For instance, after being essentially flat for more than a dozen years, boat registrations dipped in 2010 by 2.2 percent, or about 282,000 boats, the largest decline in 15 years. But participation the same year was up…more

West Marine finds solid footing under CEO Eisenberg

So what’s your most valuable asset? Cash? Your terrific product? Your strategic position in the market? I’ve got it — your skill as a leader? Think again. “It’s not the stores. It’s not our balance sheets or our inventory,” says West Marine CEO and president Geoff Eisenberg. “It’s our people. That’s the hardest thing to…more

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