A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

FWC suggests life jackets as a holiday gift

Call me a sentimental fool, if you will, but I’ve been feeling the hurt of a lot of people in need this holiday season. I’ve even cried at some of the stories I’ve been listening to on the radio. So it’s not surprising that a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tugged [...]

New Year’s resolution for the industry

It’s that time of year when many people start thinking about making a New Year’s resolution. Some resolve to work harder, spend more time with family, exercise, eat healthier, or quit smoking.

Meeting maniac or meeting starved?

I received an email from someone who works at a boat dealership in a southeastern state.  He lamented that he never knows what the dealership manager is thinking or what priorities are for the business because his manager rarely holds meetings and seldom communicates with the team.  As an employee, he is meeting starved! 

Marine industry taken off guard?

The state of the economy today reminds me of a frog analogy I heard years ago. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out. But if you put a frog in water that’s room temperature and then slowly heat it up, the frog will just sit there [...]

Will the Goliaths gobble the Davids?

Many in the industry say 2008 will be a make- or break-year. We agree with that and we speculate that it will be a survival of the fittest story, with the Goliaths gobbling up the Davids.

Reaching out to young employees

While at IBEX I attended the workforce development seminar and one of the panelists, Pat Kearns, asked why ‘The Future Boatbuilders of America,’ doesn’t exist.

A lone, unpleasant voice at IBEX

Having walked the floor at IBEX in Miami, I met many professional exhibitors who took the time to talk with me and explain the ins and outs of their products. I learned a lot and found many story ideas for Soundings Trade Only. I admired and appreciated everyone’s hard work, dedication and passion. I did [...]

How do things look at IBEX?

IBEX opened its doors today; the exhibitors look crisp and hope to sell big. But some on the floor told me the weak market has prevented many companies from sending their usual number of people to the show. The companies have been trying to curb costs.

The light at the end of the tunnel

I opened my mail this morning and actually read some good news. See today’s story about a study released by The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm on Sounding Trade Only’s e-mail newsletter.  

Stand up and be counted

Grassroots campaigning, as you know, can have a huge effect in Congress. But it only works when legislators hear from lots of people on a particular subject. Here’s your chance to speak volumes on a recently proposed bill, The Recreational Boating Act, which is designed to protect recreational boaters from new commercial ballast water permitting [...]

Don’t ignore your most important store

It’s time to kick things up a notch. Economists are talking about the “R” word. The Federal Reserve’s move to cut the rate by a half point may not derail the nation’s tumble towards recession as a result of the housing crisis. Even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan says the central bank’s move may [...]

Will the lower rates hurt boating?

With the discount rate cut yesterday it shows how concerned the Fed is about the softening economy tied to the perception of shaky credit markets. The other “huge” factor I think is going to hurt boating is the falling home values in many parts of the country where people have tied purchases to what had been [...]

Happy Birthday

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 [...]

Slips available?

This past weekend I was out and about, shopping for my fall wardrobe and as I passed by a large marina along the Connecticut shoreline I marveled at all the boats in the water. Then I did a double take.

Patent overhaul

A long-standing patent dispute over trim tab designs will likely head to court next year as Bennett Marine and its competitor, Lenco Marine, continue to argue their cases. But let’s go beyond individual lawsuits, for a minute, and look at the big picture.

Feeling Strapped?

There’s been a lot of buzz in the news lately about the worldwide credit crunch, with reports coming in from the United States, Canada and Europe. Many blame lenders that offered teaser rates designed to entice those with spotty credit or no money for a downpayment.

A Cleaner Act

It looks like Boston Harbor will get much cleaner because federal, state and local officials said they expect to have a no-discharge plan in place by Memorial Day 2008. This means boaters can no longer dump treated head waste into the water.

Why do Americans work so hard?

A French industry executive once posed this question during a symposium I attended in conjunction with a boat show. She wondered if Americans’ lack of leisure time was a big stumbling block to boating in the United States.

Words to avoid

Hi all. I’ve been lurking on the Soundings Trade Today site and reading Wanda’s insightful marketing blogs for sometime and thought I’d regularly add my 2¢ to see if we can all benefit more from this section. Especially in light of the fact that we’re all in the same boat, trying to make the best [...]

Fractional ownership

I had dinner the other night with a busy industry executive who said something interesting. He has the money to buy a boat, but questioned why he’d make that investment when he’d probably use it once or twice.

Is Big Brother targeting boaters now?

It seems like at every turn these days the federal government is trying to institute policies that create more hurdles for boaters. Last fall we learned that a federal court decision could and, now, is leading to a federal permitting process for recreational boat discharge.

Linking boat sales to marketing boater education

My last two Trade Only marketing columns have chronicled and championed my personal motorcycling “learn to ride” experience that ultimately led to the sale of two Harleys in a short window of time. Through this amazing experience, I’ve become a vocal advocate for this concept and believe we are missing the boat and quite literally [...]

Boating brand image

In my August Trade Only marketing column, I proposed that we seriously consider boating’s overall brand image. When you think of boating, what should be the first image that comes to mind?

An open letter to manufacturers

As we endure the worst economic/market conditions in the boat industry since the early 90s, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on what I am observing from some of our manufacturer/ partners.  I have been presented dealer contracts that are designed to give the dealer less rights and the manufacturers a guarantee [...]

Are you a victim?

Theft and Burglary on boats is on the rise! Theft and burglary on boats is on the rise.  Did you know that there have been five yachts stolen from the Miami area since the beginning of 2007 amounting to over $10 million?

Introductions to boating could lead to sales

First – my husband and I would never have even thought about motorcycling had my good friend Jim Krueger of Mainship not given me that fateful and phenomenal spin on his Harley. As I considered the impact of his referral on my life, I couldn’t help but apply it to our market.

Gas pains at the pump?

Recently, I asked those who are boaters or cover boating on my list of e-mail writers if they knew what marina or dock gas was costing these days. I  had a quick response, so thanks very much. Keep in mind this is an extremely unscientific poll.

Boat show attendance

I want to share a story, which really grabbed my attention. It comes from the International Federation of Boat Show Organisers, of which the National Marine Manufacturers Association is a founding member. I was impressed with the group’s ground-breaking initiative to create a Code of Excellence, designed to enhance the quality of boat shows.

Annual catch limits

While eating my fresh fruit cup for breakfast at the American Boating Congress I listened to Samuel Rauch, a government official from NOAA fisheries, talk about new catch levels, which will prevent overfishing.

Should the manatee be down-listed?

Federal officials are mulling the idea of downgrading the status of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened, a move which could make it easier to loosen boating speed limits and other restrictions in Florida.

Marine Industry Training: A College Perspective

When the Marine Industry Association of South Florida (MIASF) contacted Broward Community College (BCC) to help them with the training of qualified technicians, we were more than willing to assist an industry that represents the largest economic generator in our community.  With an estimated $18 billion impact on our Florida economy, the marine industry is [...]

Turned off by high gas prices?

We’re paying as high as $2.73 a gallon for gas at the pump to drive our cars in Essex, Conn., home of Soundings Publications. I know it cost more to fill a boat at the marinas, and I’m wondering if the soaring price will deter people from buying boats.

Emissions standards for engines?

Soundings Trade Only compiled a story for its April issue on the proposed emissions standards for marine and locomotive engines. The proposed marine rule, part of the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, will require a 90-percent reduction in particulate matter emissions, an 80-percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and additional reductions in hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and air toxics. [...]

Fueling a passion for sailing

I was talking with friends recently about the simple pleasure of sailing a Sunfish. My first encounter with the boat was sitting dead on the water on a small lake. I knew nothing about sailing then and my friend, who owned the boat, seemed to know even less. I’ve since learned a bit. But that [...]

What do you think of Grow Boating?

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is giving pretty high marks to the industry’s Grow Boating Initiative so far. After only the first year of the advertising campaign, consumer awareness of Discover Boating rose from 1 in 20, to 1 in 4. There also was a surge in traffic to the re-designed DiscoverBoating.com Web site, with [...]

The price of cleaner air in California: unfair competition

Starting January 1, 2008, California based marine dealers will be competing for new boat sales against retailers in the other 49 states at a distinct price disadvantage thanks to new inboard engine emission regulations instigated and mandated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Dockominiums: growing trend not so black and white

As public access to the water shrinks, waterfront property is becoming more valuable and rare, bringing the focus of boating accessibility to the forefront. Mention the word “dockominium”, the concept of selling slips rather than leasing, and you will get strong opinions on this topic. 

Discover Boating: Promoting the boating lifestyle

Today, March 1st, marks the kick-off of the 2007 Discover Boating campaign.  For the next thirteen weeks, ads will run nationally on cable television and in popular lifestyle magazines.  Online advertising will run for the rest of the year.

Lessons from Miami….

I recently got back from the Miami International Boat Show, and I’m still catching up on sleep and getting caught up on work. Still, it seemed like a good time for reflection on the event, so here are a few of my random thoughts:

How much is that boat?

Ask the Average Joe walking down the street if he can afford to buy a boat and he’s likely to say, “No.” Boats, he may say, are a luxury item only to be enjoyed by the rich and famous, not the average, middle-class American.

What are you expecting in Miami?

It occurred to me the other day I haven’t touched a snow shovel in a year; an odd winter in New England. It is cold, though, another reason to pack my polo shirts and fly down to the Miami International Boat Show next week. Are you going too? What are you expecting to find?

N.J. DEP needs to think, again

More often than not I side with the environmental groups because I want to breathe fresh air and keep out of harm’s way from the thousands of contaminants that find their way on our land and in our waterways.  But here’s one time I do take a huge exception with the environmental advocates.

Customer Service

Customer Service is one of the biggest and most important issues facing our industry today. And here is the problem with that statement.

Fuel Efficiency on the Water

Fuel consumption and saving money is a hot topic. Global unrest, weather, energy supplies and the over-all economy are all weighing heavily on the price you pay at the pump and fuel dock.

Improving your dealer network

For most boat builders, they can make a great product, but it’s crucial to have the right dealer network in place to properly market and sell that product to the public.

The Necessity of Comprehensive Marine Warranties

 You’ve had numerous discussions with your friends and family. As an educated consumer, you’ve shopped around for weeks comparing different boat brands and prices. You’ve made the decision to purchase a new boat, and then the wind gets taken out of your sails when you discover all the items that aren’t covered under your “so-called [...]

Biggest Industry Challenge for 2007

The biggest challenge for the upcoming year and years to come centers around growing boating and the lifestyle.  I think as an industry we need to allocate as much time and as many resources in keeping the boaters we do have versus focusing too heavily on bringing new individuals into boating. 

No access, no boating

Water access – I’m glad to see industry media attention being paid to water access. It’s not as emotional an issue as “Take Me Fishing,” but it’s just as important to boating.

Coastal zone management is godsend for boaters

Many boaters are not familiar with the term Coastal Zone Management (CZM) or what it can do for boating. CZM is a joint federal/state effort to oversee the use of a land corridor adjacent to water. It was created in recognition of the primal human need for water access — almost as strong as an [...]