Letters from the Editor

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

A ‘new ballgame’ on a smaller field with new fan base

These are tough, painful and challenging times for our industry. While many of us continue to make cuts, scale back and essentially hang on for the long, bumpy ride, we are at the same time reinventing our businesses. How many of those changes will carry over into the post-recession world is difficult to say –…more

Reading the tea leaves of the turnaround

Is it safe to say we’ve finally made a bottom in our industry, because it sure feels like down to me. The recession by some estimates could be officially “over” by late this year, with recovery in 2010. But in the same way that unemployment is a lagging indicator, recreational boating, I fear, will be…more

What happened to conspicuous consumption?

A phenomenon has surfaced in this recession that I don’t recall seeing in any of the other declines during my 25-plus years in this topsy-turvy industry. It first appeared on my radar at a boat show last fall, right after the markets began to tank. I was shooting the breeze with a sales guy for…more

Tell the recession you’ve gone fishing

With unemployment hovering around 10.5 percent in Rhode Island, I traveled to the Ocean State in early April to attend the opening of the New England Saltwater Fishing Show, the largest in the region. Given the difficult economy in the state, I wanted to gauge the crowd and the buying mood, and I wanted to…more

Good service is a high-cost, high-return commitment

Jack Brewer owns more than two-dozen marinas, but he’s the first to tell you the business he’s really in is the service business. That’s an important distinction, not just a matter of semantics. I recently attended the opening of Brewer Yacht Yards’ annual two-day mechanics seminar that brought in nearly 80 “techs” who work at…more

Sage advice: hold on just a little longer

Fourteen months into this recession, the question we’re all looking for an answer to is this: Just when is this mess going to end? When it comes to the economy, the crystal ball business is so “iffy” it makes weather forecasters look like Nostradamus. Nonetheless, for an answer, I turned to veteran economist Tony Villamil,…more

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