Letters from the Editor

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

Not just a new year, a whole new world and a need to adapt

Our industry – indeed, our world – has undergone tremendous change and upheaval in the last 16 months. Change that has been fundamental, cyclical and secular. Change that has been tectonic in its power and ability to not only rearrange our industry, but also the world economic landscape. The idea that we will somehow return…more

The Bing Fishman School of Business: ‘You do what’s right’

After more than 40 years of helping Grady-White dealers sell boats, Bing Fishman, one of the “good guys” in this business, is sailing into retirement. I caught up with him recently to talk about the industry, his career and those tenets of business that transcend boom-and-bust cycles. If I were to condense our hour-plus interview…more

Survival of fittest? No. In this arena, you toss a lifeline

We tend to forget during these tough times that many of us got into this business because of our love of boats and the water. And we remain in this topsy-turvy corner of the world in large part for the same reason. Lord knows it’s not to get rich. Yes, recreational boating is our livelihood,…more

One year later: a look back, the view ahead

It’s been one helluva year. Last September, the underpinnings of the world economy got mighty shaky. It was enough to make you wonder: Was it all a house of cards? Was everything about to come down around our ears? After Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in mid-September, the stock markets tanked, credit markets froze and an…more

Boat show season: Will it be caution or confidence?

“Confidence is contagious,” the iconic NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said. “So is lack of confidence.” Confidence also is fickle – here one day and hiding in a closet the next. Too many bad headlines or a friend gets laid off, and suddenly you’re walking on eggshells and putting your cash under a mattress. That’s…more

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