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IMBC 2014: Correct Craft CEO talks about taking risks

FORT LAUDERDALE — Businesses must create a “special sauce” that sets them apart from competitors to survive the tumultuous pace of change during the next 10 years, Correct Craft president and CEO Bill Yeargin said in Friday’s opening presentation at the International Marina & Boatyard Conference.

“There’s going to be much more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 25 years,” said Yeargin, an industry leader and popular speaker. “Today’s technology is going to be obsolete in a few years. … You better have a way to set your business apart. … A lot of businesses are not going to be able to navigate the winds of change.”

Yeargin said managing costs and manufacturing processes are important, but a company’s culture and the way it maximizes revenue — through creativity, innovation, quality products or services, effective marketing, a strong margin and good relationships with customers — are the main ingredients of that secret sauce.

Yeargin said a Harvard Business School study establishes three rules for developing a good business model. First, stress maximizing revenue — again, with creativity and innovation — over controlling costs. Second, stress quality over a cheap price in your business decisions.

“Put together the best possible product you can, charge fairly and market yourself as best you can,” he said. “There’s some magic that goes into a higher price for a good product.”

The third rule: “There are no other rules.” Innovation, creativity and strong margins are the best recipe.

Another Harvard study establishes three rules for effective organization. First, the company’s leaders must be pragmatic.

“They do what’s right for the business,” he said. “They’re not tied to old ways or to ideologies.”

Effective leaders listen and are willing to challenge what they think they know. “What you think you know may be wrong. In fact, it probably is wrong,” he said.

Second, leaders must be willing to take risks — real risks that take them out of their comport zone. Third, a company must have a higher mission that drives its values beyond the success or failure of the company.

“A big part of what we are is bigger than us,” he said. “You’ve got to have something bigger for your organization than coming in every day and punching the time clock.”

His company takes employees abroad to work on mission projects and is involved in community projects.

Marina Dock Age presented its marina-of-the-year awards on Friday at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. The 240-slip Nantucket Boat Basin won the small-marina award.

The marina berths yachts as large as 220 feet. Seventy-five percent of its slip business is transient. The marina has a 50- to 60-boat turnover on a single busy day during the summer season.

Southport Marina in Southport, S.C., won the big-marina award. Southport has 225 wet slips, 102 indoor dry slips and 141 outdoor dry slips, and a full-service transient dock.

In her economic update for the marine industry, Maria Espino, professor of economics at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla., projected 3.2 percent growth in the economy in 2014 (versus 1.8 percent in 2013); 2 percent inflation (versus 1.8 percent in 2013); and a 6.2 percent unemployment rate (versus 7.4 percent in 2013).

“What this means is that we are well-placed to go into the next year,” she said. She qualified that assessment, though, noting that “our recovery is not being translated into enough jobs.”

She said some economists worry that we may be entering a period of stagnation — an economic recovery without a jobs recovery. She said debt of all kinds is falling — a good thing — as the economy recovers, but over the long haul the federal debt will start to grow again, not so much because of increasing Social Security costs, but because of growing federal costs attributable to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

“As a society, we’ve got to do something about it,” she said.

Speaking on “Preventing and Responding to Spills,” Susan Shingledecker, a vice president at the BoatUS Foundation, said BoatUS is inaugurating a free online spill prevention training course for entry-level marina employees.

Registration for the three-hour course is available at http://www.boatus.org/spill-prevention.

The course is funded with a $150,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which receives restitution after spills.

“They wanted to do something for recreational boating regarding spills,” Schingledecker said.

She said that training new or seasonal dockhands in oil-spill prevention and response seemed a more effective way of managing spills than trying to reach individual boaters.

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