Letters from the Editor

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

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

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