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Looking back: The best posts of 2008

Usually, I don’t look back. To me, life is more exciting looking forward. Still, 2008 will end tomorrow night and I’ll be glad to see it go. It sure hasn’t been much fun for boating. Actually, it sucked!

That said, however, I think it could be fun to wrap up ’08 by looking back to see what subjects you found most interesting as measured by the volume of your comments to this “Dealer Outlook” blog. Moreover, if I said I haven’t had fun writing this blog in ‘08, I’d be lying. Thanks to your readership and, especially, your participation, it’s been a lot of fun. So, what did I find?

When I started looking back, I was betting the top subjects that drew the most comments would be (a) dealer/manufacturer relationships i.e. dealer agreements, and (2) boat shows. Wrong on both!

“It’s About Racial Diversity” and “Is It Time for a New National Meeting?” were the two top “Dealer Outlook” blogs with a combined 78 comments from you. As things go in the blogosphere, that’s an incredibly high number of responses.

Interestingly, the blog on racial diversity drew the widest array of comments and opinions, ranging from: “…as an industry, we’ve been selling to the same WASP male demo forever but the face of America is changing and as an industry, we need to change with it;” to “Let’s not politicize this, or put together some bogus POLITICALLY CORRECT campaign (which minorities will see through) to appeal to that audience!”  All the comments and discussion made for interesting reading and, for obvious reasons, we can expect to revisit this broad subject again in ’09.

The blog asking about a new national meeting for the industry was not one I thought would draw much comment when I wrote it. But, it did. With rare exception, most comments favored the idea of returning our industry to some new form of the old IMTEC meetings that guided the marine industry for decades. Given the current challenging economic times we’re in, the idea of a new industry-wide meeting isn’t on anyone’s radar screen. But, when we return to good times, and we will, who knows what might come of the idea for an all-industry gathering.

The next most popular blog was “Did We Miss the Boat, Too?” In it I compared the boating industry to Detroit’s big three that had literally given away the family car market in order to build SUVs and pickups which, now, nobody wants. In boating, we once had inexpensive entry level rigs (boat, motor & trailer) for a lot less than $10,000. But that gave way to building bigger and more expensive boats. Most of your comments recognized a need to offer affordable entry level boats again as a means of getting growth back into the industry. It was a fascinating discussion and, although I have no inside information on this, I’m betting some good manufacturers have taken note and we may see some results when things turnaround.

Finally, blogs that decried the gloom and doom outlooks, or blasted the media’s fixation with airing bad news, also drew large numbers of comments from you. Perhaps it was a way for all of us to vent in an uncomfortable time. . . or, maybe, just a way to voice “enough is enough!” Somehow it seemed to serve a purpose and that made it worth posting.

Thanks, again, for your readership. See you in ’09, and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.


4 comments on “Looking back: The best posts of 2008

  1. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

    NORM! Hope your fishing is going good… Hooked four steelhead yesterday and landed 3 in about 90 minutes… Bob Ashley is out fishing today on the Chagrin and has picked up around a dozen fish… Cold with a temp of around 27 and winds of up to 45 mph…

  2. Mike McGuire

    Agree with Norm’s thoughts on the re-enactment of the fall show in Chicago,or some other central
    located city. Should also be the introduction of new models,as in the past .Gives dealers reason to a time they can leave their dealerships.

    His best observation though, was the drastic need for some entry level boats which were always available in the past.I noted the same thing at The MIAMI show last Feb,even talked to several of the sales reps about.The closest thing to it was a 17′ unit available from Bayliner which was too shallow for most lakes but ok for rivers or small manmade lakes for $16-17,000. Immediately outside up on a pole was a model suitable for a family boat, deep bow, 90-100hp show special for just under $30,000. We have priced ourselves out of the family budget,especially for beginners.Where are the new buyers to come from?Sorry to be so lengthy, but 44yrs in the industry builds up a lot of steam.

  3. dave boso

    I would agree that an entry level boat would promote boating to a greater number of the public, if;All dealers could buy them at the same deal, the builders would give each dealer a fair area to serve,the warranty was as good as the main line boats, if the dealer didn’t have to buy 1/2 the production. money was easy to get @ low payments.
    All the above would have to come together like the cheap import auto market,ie KIA,ect. But we all know the numbers just are not there, because not as many people are going to buy boats as autos.

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