Letters from the Editor

Value and price reign supreme in this market

Like it or not, we are smack-dab in the age of thrift. Not a great time to be selling big-ticket items that require significant amounts of discretionary income, but you and I know that reality, chapter and verse. It has been an especially tough market for new boats. Retail credit markets are tight, most consumers…more

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Gulf tough: a region on the rebound

The Gulf region is nothing if not resilient, tough as the shrimpers, roughnecks, charter boat skippers and others who for generations have made a livelihood on these waters. Since 2004, Ivan, Charley, Katrina, Rita and Ike have barreled ashore. Then came the recession. And this year saw oil spew for months through the runaway BP…more

The ‘new normal’ to Jim Bronstien: perpetual change

Two years ago, consultant Jim Bronstien showed a slide presentation at an IBEX seminar titled “Running the Organization (in strange times),” which coincided roughly with the start of the economic decline and its aftermath, soon to be dubbed the “new normal.” The industry veteran’s observations included the following: Consumers have less money. Demand for products…more

Keep your chin up and inch your way to the ‘other side’

We are in the midst of another “challenging” summer. With the start of the fall boat show season not far off, many of us are wondering how many folks will be showing up and will they be in a buying mood – finally? There is the sense that things are gradually improving – more slowly…more

Recovery’s easy when you’ve got a dream to sell

In this value-conscious, (barely) post-recession world we find ourselves navigating through, the old rules regarding consumer behavior and boat buying don’t necessarily apply. Some do. Some don’t. And others are being modified as we speak to fit the new normal. Lots of changes. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to promote the sport…more

The boat show’s role is evolving and sales await those who adapt

The old boat show model is undergoing a transformation. Given what we’ve just been through, that’s to be expected. And welcomed. It’s an old unbroken story: change, adapt, evolve – or shuffle off to the tar pits. In this immediate post-recession landscape, there certainly are fewer boat shows, and their footprints are smaller. Beyond that,…more

Green marketing shouldn’t have shades of gray

On a daily basis, all of us are bombarded by the claims eco-friendly, environmentally safe, biodegradable, CFC free, and on and on. If you’re skeptical, you’re not alone. One study showed that while more than 80 percent of consumers are willing to buy “green,” at least a third of them don’t know how to evaluate…more

Calls for simple, ‘sensible’ boats strike a chord

In my column last month on the industry at a crossroads, I advocated a new generation of “sensible” boats – simple, seaworthy, efficient and more affordable. Boats with value and utility, boats that will encourage people to get back out on the water. I heard from several readers, including an offshore powerboat racer and longtime…more

At a crossroads: Let’s not choose the Detroit route

The topic had an ambitious title: “Boating at a Crossroads: How to live long and prosper.” It’s a good question. Tough one, too. I was one of four marine business journalists who was scheduled to tackle that subject during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of Boating Writers International held in conjunction with the…more

Our tech edge can be an asset outside boating

At some point during a marine business roundtable discussion prior to the start of the Providence (R.I.) Boat Show, someone invoked the name Herreshoff – as in Nathanael Herreshoff, aka Capt. Nat, aka “The Wizard of Bristol.” The invocation seemed appropriate, given the trends being talked about by the five panelists, whose discussion was organized…more

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