A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

An open letter to outboard manufacturers

It’s time for the outboard manufacturers to stop charging their dealers to sell their products. Times have changed, and with sales at a new industry low, my dealership, for one — I know I’m not alone — has had to adapt by cutting costs in every way possible.

Emphasizing affordability in the Big Apple

A new feature was launched this week at the New York National Boat Show: an “Affordability Pavilion” featuring eight boats from different builders, each of which can be financed for $250 or less a month.

A report from METS

With attendance down only 6 percent from last year’s record, the mood at the 2008 METS show was decidedly upbeat, despite the ominous clouds produced by global economic problems. Some exhibitors, however, did express concern about their economic future and how well their companies would weather what lies ahead.

Some thoughts from the dealer conference in Vegas

The economy was the biggest topic of conversation at this week’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Many of those who attended talked about the decrease in sales they were seeing this year and the worries they had for the future.

Why the marine industry needs a credit union

Early this year a group of marine industry professionals got together to discuss their frustrations with, at that time, the traditional banking industry. Many key topics were discussed, from boat loans to floorplan financing.

Industry challenges make us stronger

During the past year, fuel prices have been extremely volatile and seemed to be at their peak in the midst of the boating season. For some boaters, this season was a time to scale back on their boating. For others, it was a time to modify their boating habits so they could still enjoy their [...]

The (boat) show must go on

Lately we’ve all been re-evaluating many aspects of this business, especially where we spend our money. Let’s face it: There isn’t as much coming in as there used to be, so we have to be a little more prudent about what flows out.

Gazing into the crystal ball

October will be a busy month for the marine industry, as business leaders gear up for two major events that traditionally serve as key indicators for the coming year.

Staying in the loop

For those who read our e-newsletter on a regular basis, you’re sure to have noticed a lot of stories lately about layoffs, plant closings and weak earnings reports.

Fuel blues

The endlessly skyrocketing price of boating fuel has now become a relentless headache for the American boater. Accustomed to paying no more than two or three dollars per gallon for decades, boaters are now paying more than twice that amount for fuel. As a result, boaters are unable to decide how to adjust to this [...]

Hello from Las Vegas!

Yesterday was the opening of MAATS and exhibitors appear to be taking a realistic, but optimistic approach to the market.

Sick days quandary

I just received my newsletter from the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and my eye went to a story about a difference of opinion regarding the allowable number of paid sick days.

Vacation at home on your boat

I was on a boat ride the other night and a couple told me about all the enjoyment they received with their boat and how their boat was the vacation spot for their family when the kids were younger. Weekends and summers were always spent on the boat.

Let your voice be heard

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again, the boating industry needs to speak out loudly against permitting regulations being proposed for recreational boaters.

Maintain a positive attitude

Three to four times a week someone from the news media calls our association office to ask the same questions: “Are boat sales off because of the economy?  Or, Is the price of fuel going to impact boating this summer?”

June is great outdoors month

President Bush and forty state governors have declared the month of June great outdoors month and this week is great outdoors week.  A very fitting time to spend the last two days in Washington, DC, attending meetings of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).  I serve as the [...]

Boating industry sales – an inside look

There is a big concern going on at this time about sales being down in the boating industry.  There are a variety of factors that are reported to be contributing to this concern. Regardless of floor traffic being up, down or flat there is one single common denominator that remains – without salespeople understanding what constitutes [...]

Recreational boating is big business

During these difficult economic times it’s easy to focus on the negatives rather than the positives.  Though total industry sales of products and services was down 5 percent in 2007, we estimate the industry sold $37.5 billion of boating products and services last year. 

Any incentives out there?

Remember two years ago when the car industry brought back incentives to counter high fuel prices and rising interest rates. Dealers throughout the country offered as much as $6,000 in rebates.

PR key to promoting boating

With the arrival of Memorial Day, media coverage of boating accelerates dramatically.  We monitor this coverage nationwide and work to create positive coverage of boating and the boating lifestyle nationally as well.

Making the same mistakes

Why do we make the same mistakes over and over again? Last week was my first blog entry for Soundings Trade Only, and I submitted it without a headline. I left it to someone else to write the headline. That was my mistake.

Gas prices are not a deterrent

As I travel to meetings in Florida and the warmer areas of the country, the comment I hear most often is about how many boats people are seeing out on the water.  There seems to be amazement in the industry that boaters are out on the water in force in spite of high gas prices.  [...]

Doing business in Europe

Nordic Tugs has received an award from the U.S. Department of Commerce in recognition of the company’s successful move into foreign markets.

Show the life jacket? It’s a no brainer

At this year’s Miami International Boat Show, Suzuki Marine was the proud recipient of the “Show It, Don’t Stow It” Award presented by several very important organizations, including the US Coast Guard, the NMMA, the Florida Fish & Game Commission and the National Safe Boating Council. The award recognized our commitment to include life jackets [...]

Unfair tax

A circuitous route home from last weeks antique and classic boat show at Tavares/Mt.Dora, Fla., finds the April print edition of Soundings Trade Only in my mail box. (The front page story carried the headline The state tax some call ‘extortion’)

Introducing the boating lifestyle

It was a gorgeous weekend; not a cloud in the sky with temperatures reaching 80 degrees. What perfect days for boating. What made that weekend even more special is the excitement that was generated at The Marine Industry Association of Central Florida’s first annual Discover Boating Demo Days on Saturday, March 29th and Sunday, March [...]

Will gas prices curtail boating?

I talked to my sister over the weekend (by the way, she’s a boat owner) and she’s looking into taking the commuter bus to work; the gas prices are killing her budget. Is she planning to keep her boat? At the moment, but…

Will stimulus package spur boat sales?

While thinking about what I was going to say in today’s blog, associate editor Melanie Winters said she talked to someone at the Miami boat show who thought the rebates from the federal stimulus package would help consumers come up with a down payment for a boat. I shrugged at that idea. As I told [...]

Spousal conversion

Boating industry poobahs (not me) held a meeting at the Miami Boat Show in February and I understand the hot topic was women. It’s not what you think.

Michigan trade group’s risk paid off

This week Soundings Trade Only reported that attendance at the Detroit Boat Show was up 19.2 percent. The show, produced by the Michigan Boating Industries Association, ended Feb. 24. Attendance was 85,087 compared to 71,381 in 2007. This, in of itself, was fantastic news given Michigan’s depressed market with its auto job layoffs and high [...]

Boating is not just for the rich

At the Miami International Boat Show earlier this month, NMMA president Thom Dammrich shared an interesting fact during his State of the Industry address. He noted that the majority of boat owners make less than $100,000 a year, so boating is not just for the rich.

Remember the pleasure

In 2005, the National Marine Manufacturers Association conducted a survey that concluded  boating is one of the top three stress relieving activities. Gently lapping waves and briny breezes wash away the troubles of the day.

An interesting proposal

The New Jersey legislature has considered an interesting proposal that would benefit marinas and the environment. A bill, if reintroduced, would give marinas a 10-percent tax credit against their state gross incomes if they meet the guidelines of New Jersey’s certified clean marina program.

In and out of Florida

I got excited when I heard Edgewater Powerboats plans to stay and expand in Florida instead of moving away like so many other marine companies have done in recent years.

Where are the TV boat commercials

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of TV commercials touting the new cars, their prices and monthly payments. I appreciated seeing the monthly prices; a concept the boating industry should adopt.

Resolved: Let’s go boating

Making resolutions for the New Year is a good thing even when we don’t always do what we say we’re going to do. Most important, it says we want to be better people. That is, we haven’t given up on ourselves.