Letters from the Editor

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

Pods, joysticks doing their part to grow boating

Joystick systems controlling pods, straight shafts, sterndrives and even outboards have become more and more a part of the mainstream. Not only are these new technologies often more efficient from a propulsion standpoint, as is the case with pod drives, but they also are allowing people to move more easily into larger boats by reducing…more

Innovation, resolve have builder rising in the East

How does a small niche builder of high-end, performance cruising catamarans compete in today’s global market? How does it even survive, given the lousy economy of the last three years? The story of Gunboat is as much the story of its founder, Peter Johnstone, as it is a story of the large, fast custom sailing…more

Key to the future lies in welcoming unfamiliar faces

It’s not easy to look out 10 or more years and imagine what the boating landscape may look like and how to plan for the major changes, trends and permutations. In today’s topsy-turvy economic environment, it’s difficult enough to forecast 12 months  out with any surety. But it was the long view that the diverse…more

Will the ‘lookers’ of 2011 become buyers in 2012?

I wouldn’t have guessed that more than three years after the global economy was swamped that we’d still be slogging our way through such persistent headwinds. But here we are, with 2012 at our doorstep, and although things have improved we still face the challenge of getting people to part with their discretionary dollars during…more

Boat shows: They’re where the buyers are

There’s a cliché that’s grown up around the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton that just might serve as a metaphor for boat shows. Asked why he robbed banks, Sutton reportedly replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” It’s the same with shows. Why participate in a boat show? That’s where the buyers are. I used…more

Mining technology to discover magic

“The first duty of a boat is to be beautiful.” Those are words that can change a company and influence, perhaps, an industry. It was that belief and conviction, held by Shep McKenney, that led to the creation of the successful Hinckley Picnic Boat in 1994, when McKenney was an owner of the then-struggling yacht…more

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