Happy Birthday

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I congratulate three leading manufacturers, Perko, Volvo Penta and Boston Whaler, for achieving significant milestones. Perko and Volvo Penta turned 100, and Boston Whaler celebrates its 50th birthday. (See upcoming story in the October issue of Soundings Trade Only.)

While each company proudly touted its accomplishments — and rightfully so — Volvo Penta said something that really stood out. The employees have earned the trust and respect of their bosses, and with that comes freedom — the freedom to conceive of an idea without fear of criticism from their bosses who could have told them they were foolish and unwise. 

Lennart Arvidsson, a project leader based in Sweden, said it so well. “We have a big freedom in our department to think in our own way. “We know that the company is supporting us when we come up with strange ideas.”

Such was the case when engineers suggested electronic steering for IPS (Inboard Performance System).

“People thought we were nuts,” he says. And he admits they had good reasons the fly-by-wire steering system wouldn’t work, but that didn’t stop Volvo Penta engineers from developing it. “Find the right solution to the problem and don’t necessarily do what other companies are doing,” Arvidsson says. “That is the climate that we work in.”

Those words speak volumes and I hope other companies can take something valuable from this philosophy.

Perhaps you’d like to share your company’s approach to innovation.

— Lois Caliri