A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

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?”

Duh!  We’ve known for a long time that the only news they are expecting is negative, the good news always seems to get lost in the wake.  You need to answer them truthfully but you especially need to have the right message ready to pass on.

The important point is that boating is a great life style and boaters are a strong breed.  They may shorten their trips, spend more time aboard tied up in their slips or floating in the marina pool or at best, using the closer fishing grounds, but boating they will enjoy.

That’s the right message, positive, enjoyable, family fun, no property taxes, and meeting new friends type of message. Sure, gas prices are up but how much more costly for that one-hour cruise?  $15-20?  Is freedom from shore worth that?  Of course, that and all the other benefits boating and fishing afford. 

When you are queried, keep a positive attitude.  Over four decades in this great industry has taught me that the economy runs in cycles and you need a positive mindset to survive between the peaks.  Diversify your operations and be realistic. If you need to make tough decisions, don’t wait too long to make them but above all put a positive front on your attitude and your outlook.

We don’t need to make the media portray our industry in a light that is more negative than warranted.  Be positive, the latest predictions are for another 18 months before the turnaround.  So, buckle down and reinvest in yourself and your business and make the best of a difficult time and be positive! 

Grant W. Westerson

Executive Director

CT Marine Trades Association


13 comments on “Maintain a positive attitude



  2. Mark McLeod

    I really like Grant’s perspective on things. We recently had a sales meeting and of course the discussion came around to the economy. One of our brokers (Andy Kovacs) came up with a motto we now adhere to and it is as follows: “Brewer Yacht Sales has decided not to participate in a recession”.

  3. boatman

    Yes. There is a time to be positive, a time to be negative, and most importantly, a time to be REALISTIC. Write the truth, whether its good OR bad. Don’t cover it up with silly “be positive” platitudes. We are out in the real world, and see everyday what is going on. I worked for a #1 boat dealership who spoke all the time about having a “positive attitude”. If you spoke out negatively, (or realistically) about anything related to that company you were berated, and eventually terminated. They wanted only cheerleaders around them. Where is that company now? Bankrupt. Out of Business. Down the old toilet.
    Perfect example in above article: How much more costly for that One hour cruise? $15 to $20? Baloney. That is missing the whole point. It’s not the extra price for fuel for that one hour cruise thats the problem. It’s the extra $50.00 a week in fuel that a family needs to put in their automobiles to commute to their jobs. It’s food prices going up 20% for their family, Its the electric bill going up 25% etc. etc. This is what is putting that “only” $15 0r $20 increase for one hour of boat fuel last on the list. If you were more realistic in your comments, perhaps it would be easier to be positive. This is not a simple, passing “phase”.

  4. Norm Schultz

    Grant. You are right on! We will navigate through the rough seas as we have many times before. There are still buyers out there and, as history confirms, most boaters will keep on boating, one way or another, because it’s their recreational PASSION. We in the industry must keep our passion as well and make it obvious to the media, customers and prospects. Thanks, Grant, for the reminder.

  5. Capt Russ Cohen


    Awesome Blog! Just some great comments you mentioned. Good message that a an hour on the water will only cost you $15-20 more and that’s doable for most people. I was standing with an owner of a marina the other day looking out over this beautiful waterway with the sun shining and the beeze blowing and we were having a depressing conversation about the economy, the fuel prices, the lack of boat sales, the cost of materials rising, so on and so on and I said….when is the last time you actually took a boat ride and enjoyed this beautiful location you’re in?

    His answer I bet is like so many people in the industry. He said he hasn’t been on the water at all this year, too busy working! My suggestion is to get out on the water! At BMT we’re on the water every day and there’s still nothing else like it! Like Grant said, you don’t have to go far, you don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to go long….you just need to get out and enjoy it!

    The best way to remain positive about boating and to promote the lifestyle successfully is…..you guessed it, you need to DO IT!

    Thanks, take care and as always, We’ll See Ya On The Water!
    Capt Russ Cohen
    Boatboy Marine Training

  6. Skip McCabe

    Grant’s comments are both valid and practical. Let’s keep focusing on the lifestyle that boating brings to us. Family and friends together on the water enjoying time away from the “rate race” we call life. I recently had a fellow boater tell me that the difference in fuel prices between last year and this year is not enough to keep him from leaving the dock. If it cost him $3.60/gal to fill up last year and is around $4.99 this year, the difference spread out over the summer totals up to about $400.- Cut back on something else and enjoy the boating experience, It’s worth the price we pay!

  7. ken

    Sometimes all we need to do is put the costs of what we enjoy into perspective. I recently stopped at a gas station and purchased fuel for $3.99 a gallon. While fueling, I also purchased a 20 ounce cup of coffee for $1.29. If I purchased the coffee in gallons it would cost $7.74 for the fifteen minutes it took to drink the coffee. Certainly not cheap, but I will continue to purchase coffee for my morning pleasure and continue to buy fuel for my boat for my weekend enjoyment.

  8. Jeff Ostroff

    I agree with Boatman. I hope you guys really believe what you are telling each other, because I can tell you, nobody else believes it. The headlines each day do not support what you are saying. Talking positve doesn’t make it so.

  9. Scott Croft

    I too have been bombarded by such media requests and find everyone’s comments above to be accurate. One thing I always stress with the media, who usually aren’t boaters themselves, is that boaters are largely middle class, not “rich yachties” that hollywood portrays. I back that up with the stat that 2 of 3 boating families HH income is $75,000 or less – solidly middle income. (NMMA stat). The average boat in this country is a trailerboat, under 21 feet. And boaters, like the rest of America, are feeling the economic pinch.

    I totally agree that a any media response needs to be truthful to maintain credibility. One positive talking point I always try to end an interview with is that boating is still the cheapest waterfront around, and for a non-boating journalist, they finally understand the passion boaters have for the lifestyle. (notice I didnt say sport or hobby). I often try to equate boating with a second vacation home or cabin in the woods…with waterfront. No matter what kind of boater you are, we all want to be on the water, and that message transcends everything. I also hope it helps us grow boating.

  10. Doug

    This is a cycle we go through,but its going to take atleast a year to come around and im afraid many dealers will not be around.Im a positive person but with fuel prices its not ever going to return to what it was.Now i hear bank has raised our intrest rates on loans 2%,just another issue.Any one who feels it going to come around is liveing in a make believe world.

  11. JP

    I tend to agree with both sides. We all have to maintain a positive outlook and disposition when it comes to doing what we have chosen to do for a living. Painting a happy face when knowingly feeling down due to constant negative media, declining economic conditions, rising fuel prices and yes shrinking paychecks is a must so as to not turn potential business away. Sales 101 right? What we all should be doing is exploring and or expanding what E-Commerce can do for our business’ today and for the future. Corporate stupidity is rampant through the boating industry and for those who grasp it (Internet Marketing) congrats! For those who don’t, when you snooze you lose.

  12. David

    The reality of the marine industry is a combination of factors; 1) High Fuel Costs; 2) Lack of consumer liquidity – no more using the house for an ATM and tightened consumer credit policies from lending institutions; & 3) Boats have risen dramatically in price – even entry level.
    If your waiting around for the industry to “come back” you will be waiting a long time. The winners will be the ones who develop affordable and efficient products which will appeal to consumers as a product with value and worth investing in to further their individual and family pursuits of recreation.

  13. arch

    Good article and posts, but BOATMAN and DAVID were the most realistic. I do REALLY like the positive attitude though. But, as I have warned in many of my posts, this industry is up against some serious challenges. Luckily, for those that are really good at what they do (like me), we will do fine. Hopefully, this economy will rebound a bit by Spring 2009.

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