Letters from the Editor

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

Make sure the sales trail doesn’t go cold

Staying close to your customers and potential customers in this tough market is critical. You can’t afford to let even one get away. Treat each with the care they should always be treated with but maybe weren’t back when business was better and there were plenty of fish in the sea. There still are a…more

Training your sights on the far horizon

For veteran and newcomer alike, these may prove the most challenging times we have faced as an industry, particularly if the last quarter of 2008 is any indication of things to come. What will happen to our businesses in 2009? We posed that question to 18 industry leaders whose backgrounds and experience cover a broad…more

Holding station while waiting for the tide to turn

During tough economic times, it’s easy to lose your perspective. A steady diet of bad news can lead to the refrain: “The sky is falling … the sky is falling.” Given the volatile October that has finally been put in the rearview mirror (and good riddance, too), that’s understandable. So just how bad are things?…more

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