The president of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida will tell a congressional subcommittee on Thursday how a rule the Department of Labor issued is hurting the yacht repair industry.
The display in the Walmart store in Orange Park, Fla., turned more than a few heads, but is a pontoon boat made out of cases of beer with kegs for floats really the kind of message the retail discount giant wants to be promoting?
I was hanging out recently at my marina in Rhode Island, fooling with my little boat, when a friend returned to his slip fresh from a shark tournament off Montauk, N.Y. The fishing had been good, but what really impressed him had nothing to do with fins and teeth, but rather with service.
Gone — or at least dwindling quickly — are the days when a technician could get by solely by being able to “think with his hands,” although that ability remains a critical component of the job. More and more, success also hinges on the ability to “think with your head.”
Whether you sell tin boats in Wisconsin, flats boats in Florida or express cruisers on Long Island, the celebration at the New York Yacht Club last week marking Sperry Top-Sider’s title sponsorship of the US Sailing Team is positive news for everybody in the business.
Here’s a question worth drilling deep down into the boat registration numbers in order to ferret out an answer: How many boat owners are actually leaving our sport every year? What is the so-called defection rate?
I talked to a retired marine systems guy some time back who offered me this bit of wisdom: If you want to have the most fun on your boat, if you want to keep the wind in your face and the sun on your back, keep your boat as simple as possible.
As an industry, we have been talking of late about the need to reach out to a more diverse audience in order to fill out the next generation of boaters and the subsequent ones after that. And just a cursory look at the changing demographic landscape in this country provides plenty of evidence that broadening […]
Good deadline reporters write fast, they’re competitive, they don’t come unglued under pressure, and they come back the next day and do it all over again. Day after day. Trade Only associate editor Beth Rosenberg pretty much fits that description to a T.
Sportfishing writer Tim Coleman was a quiet, modest man who preferred to let his actions and written words do the talking for him. An exceptional saltwater angler and a prolific writer, Coleman didn’t like to put himself at the center of his stories or shine a spotlight on himself.
At the American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C., last week, speaker Greg Ip of The Economist reminded the audience of one of the realities of this sluggish economy. We remain in the midst of a slow U- or L-shaped recovery, one that still feels like a recession to millions of people.
It’s been a long time since anyone has suggested we’ve been too effusive in our reporting on the state of the industry. For much of the last four years, just the opposite has been true.
I was able to catch up with West Marine CEO and president Geoff Eisenberg at the grand opening last Thursday of the company’s newest flagship store in Old Saybrook, Conn.
Good news on the manufacturing front from The Wall Street Journal and a growing number of other sources. After a long drought, industrial manufacturing in this country may have shifted gears, the newspaper suggests in a recent story.
You probably know the old saw. Q: What does the word “boat” stand for? A: Break Out Another Thousand. At the Recreational Boating Leadership Workshop in Chicago yesterday, NMMA president Thom Dammrich provided a different interpretation of the acronym.
There is boat show traffic, and then there is qualified traffic. The Palm Beach International Boat Show has a reputation for attracting a strong percentage of serious buyers, which really shouldn’t be a surprise given the surrounding zip codes.
You lift your head after spending a good bit of time in the traces and suddenly realize the industry has gone gray while you were busy plowing your fields. Where did all the kids go?
One winter ago, Stacey Raymond found himself in the same boat as a lot of small builders, scratching and clawing for every sale. This winter, however, was a bit different for the owner of General Marine Inc. of Biddeford, Maine. Raymond was busy building 20 small boats for fishermen in Japan whose lives were turned […]
We need to grow the pie. We need to attract more women, more young people, more minority-group members — more people who don’t look exactly like me and, no offense, probably don’t look like you, either.
Gasoline prices are a moving target, and of late they have been heading north at a nearly unprecedented clip.
Some good news for GPS manufacturers, boaters and millions of other users of the satellite-based navigation system that you may have missed, given that it broke on the eve of the Miami boat shows. The Federal Communications Commission last week said it would block a plan to build a new national wireless broadband network because […]
Deep recessions have a way of reordering the status quo. New business models emerge, and companies that are able to adapt quickly to changing conditions typically do better than those that can’t. Be it a large public company or smaller private ones, those able to capitalize on the opportunities that down markets invariably offer emerge […]
The surprisingly strong January employment report last week was a welcome sign of improvement in the overall U.S. economic picture. The timing couldn’t be better, with the Miami International Boat Show and the Yacht & Brokerage Show starting next Thursday, Feb. 16.
A nice “made in America” story surfaced last week in North Carolina.
Captain of your ship. Captain of your company. Are there lessons to be learned from the captain of the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia, who has been dubbed “Capt. Coward” and the “Chicken of the Sea” for leaving his ship before all of the passengers and crew?
Several weeks ago, I was standing in C&C Marine’s plant in Bristol, R.I., with Charles Tasso, looking at a new but uncompleted NorthCoast 21 Express that was supposed to make it to the Providence (R.I.) Boat Show.
Creative destruction is reshaping businesses large and small. In some cases, the phenomenon is shaking up entire industries.
“So what do you know about business?”
“I called to the other men that the sky was clearing, and then a moment later I realized that what I had seen was not a rift in the clouds but the white crest of an enormous wave. During 26 years experience of the ocean in all its moods I had not encountered a wave […]
Like crew aboard a ship about to get under way, you could feel the thrum and vibration as the diesels were started and then idled for a period. After the tugs eased her into the channel, the ship slowly picked up speed and gathered momentum.
The nautical metaphors were flying fast and furious Sunday night during Steve Kroft’s interview with President Obama on “60 Minutes.”
A bit of good news from Cairo, Ga., where the Seminole Marine Group last week hired back its 100th employee.
Seems like a hundred years ago I was standing in a cold winter boat shed talking with a single-handed sailor about to embark on his first ocean race.
Boats are like people. They like constant, regular use or exercise. They don’t like to be ridden hard and put away wet (without maintenance). And they don’t like to sit on the hard for extended periods of time. Like their owners, they’re capable of atrophying all on their own.
Consumers are deeper on the sidelines in this economic downturn than in any other we’ve lived through. They continue the process of deleveraging, getting their balance sheets in order as they try to find their sea legs again.
Question: When wiring or plumbing is buried away out of sight of the customer, say behind a panel or under the cabin sole, does it still have to look good or be aesthetically pleasing? Isn’t that the place you save a few bucks by saying the hell with the presentation? Who’s going see it? Who’s […]
One idea I wanted to explore at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last week was the extent to which technology found on very large yachts trickles down to their smaller brethren, say those in the 40- to 60-foot range. Even smaller.
FLIBS is an important barometer. With more than $3 billion worth of boats and equipment on display over 3 million square feet of terra firma and terra not-so-firma, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is the exclamation point on the fall show season.
How do you convince the consumer that your boat or product is more like Häagen-Dazs than the store brand? How do you professionally and effectively differentiate your boat or service or piece of equipment from the rest of the field?
One commentator called it a “talk for the ages.” It’s the commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005, which you can access by clicking here or watch below.
I spoke Tuesday with yacht dealer Ben Wilde as he drove a Nordic Tug 54 into a stiff current on the C&D Canal en route to PassageMaker magazine’s Trawler Fest event in Baltimore. He grumbled about the foul tide that would put him into port after dark, but he didn’t complain a lot about the […]
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about three videos? You’ll have to be the judge of that.
I had intended to write a piece today about how we’ve all grown more stress-hardy in the three years since Lehman Brothers collapsed — “we” being the industry and the boating public. But I changed course after watching an e-mailed video from boatbuilder Ken Fickett, who owns Mirage Manufacturing, the builder of Great Harbour trawlers.
An old saying you used to hear with some frequency was that all you needed to get into the boatbuilding business was a barrel of resin and a shed. It’s not that easy anymore, but you get the idea.
If there was ever a political rallying cry worth remembering, it is James Carville’s prescient mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” You could build a campaign around those four words, as Bill Clinton so aptly did in 1992 when he defeated President George H.W. Bush.
One of the enduring images I carry from Fort Lauderdale in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma is of a reporter opening the trunk of his car outside the Bahia Mar Hotel and revealing a traditional 20th century office phone, just waiting for an energized outlet and an intact landline to do its thing. Talk about […]
As consumers, and as an industry, we are living and doing business in an age of thrift. Consumers are continuing to deleverage to work off debt from their household balance sheets to increase their savings.
Sooner or later you’re going to get caught out — in more wind, in bigger seas, in more of everything than you hoped for. That’s just part of being on the water. When it happens, you don’t want to panic or overreact. Safer to let cooler heads prevail.
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I heard echoes of frothy headlines from the heady days of the dot-com bubble. Remember pets.com?
“Click.” “Click.” It’s 7:10 in the morning, and I don’t have to look up to know the source of the sound. My son is snapping shut for the sixth or seventh time the plastic buckles on the new life jacket we bought the previous evening.
I received a letter late last week from Tiara Yachts CEO David Slikkers about a story we posted on our site last Wednesday regarding a jury judgment in a consumer warranty case against Tiara and Volvo Penta of the Americas.
The economy continues its bumpy summer ride as a host of global and domestic issues keep the waters roiled. The choppy seas are the result of a familiar litany of concerns — persistent unemployment, the weak housing market, sovereign debt woes and debates over the U.S. debt ceiling.
There is nothing fragile or complex about the small gray mooring barge, its hydraulic torque motor hanging from a 15-foot steel mast. It works day after day, year after year, screwing what are typically 10- to 15-foot steel shafts with two or three helixes at the base into mud, sand, clay and gravel bottoms. Think […]
A story in The New York Times several days ago talked about the negotiations between the auto industry and the Obama administration over new vehicle mileage and emission standards that would dramatically affect the types of cars we drive in the future.
I met the pilgrim several days ago on my first afternoon on Striper Island. A big school of fish was breaking out wide, and this tall, lanky character ran down the beach and waded out up to his shoulders, literally, to try to reach them with one of his big, sweeping southpaw casts.
Broad-based mandatory life jacket wear rules — mandatory as in for all boaters, on all pleasure boats, regardless of size, across the board — are misguided. It’s like hunting squirrels with an elephant gun. Not only is it overkill, but I’m also not sure they will accomplish what well-meaning safety advocates hope they will.
Hard as it is to believe, it appears that the new-boat market is still trying to find a bottom. Maybe it’s about to bounce out of the trough. Maybe it’s just a soft patch as we move at long last toward a nascent recovery.
You hear a few things in the nooks and crannies of the industry.
The price of gasoline has been falling of late — hooray for that — but the price of a gallon of regular is still significantly above where it was a year ago. That’s one of the factors that has hurt consumer spending and slowed economic growth. And it’s done nothing to encourage people to spend […]
Getting a non-boater out on the water is not a new concept, but it is a powerful one. And it’s one of the cornerstones of the NMMA’s new Welcome to the Water campaign, which through a soon-to-be-launched app will enable 40,000-plus Discover Boating Facebook “fans” to invite their friends to leave terra firma behind and […]
The sun was going down as the two graybeards (metaphorically speaking, of course) stepped aboard a 29-foot center console in a canal off the ICW. The skipper plugged his iPhone into the boat’s sound system, launched the app for the Internet radio station Pandora and punched in singer John Prine’s name.
Osama bin Laden was dead, and Washington, D.C., was taking a welcome break from its usual rancor and partisan bickering. A rare feeling of goodwill descended over the capital, the country. Dare I call it togetherness? Call it what you like, it felt pretty good — even if we all knew it probably wasn’t going […]
It’s nice to be in on the ground floor of something in this business. That way, when you circle back in 10 or more years you can say, “Oh, yeah, I remember when this event was just getting off the ground.”
A shipyard owner I know called last week to tell me about a big refit project he’d just won. He got the job with a very competitive bid — and the only way he was going to make any money, he told me, is if he rolls up his sleeves and does a good bit […]
Several headlines and stories have caught my attention since last week’s blog post. Consider them signs of the time — the latest examples of disruptive technologies.
Looking for inspiration? I found it reading senior writer Jim Flannery’s piece on championship sailor, marine business operator and motivational speaker Vince Morvillo that will appear in the May issue of Soundings Trade Only.
If only I had a dime for every time I heard the expression, “Nobody really needs a boat, but you do need a car.” Someone said it to me again just the other day.
The continued turmoil in Libya and the Middle East has parked concerns over rising fuel costs on the front burner.
I was talking over coffee at the Maine Boatbuilders Show in Portland this weekend with a fledgling boatbuilding entrepreneur who has a design in his head for a better mousetrap. We were taking the long way around to his designs by first remembering the good old days. He spoke fondly of the skiffs of his […]
I was walking the docks last month at the Sea Isle Marina during the Miami International Boat Show, looking for interesting boats that might make a good story. It was the end of two long days, and I was moving at a measured pace, trying to really eyeball the boats rather than just rush past […]
Sailing has always left a disproportionately large footprint for the number of new units it cranks out a year. And to trying to measure the impact of sailing by that metric is too myopic — it misses the larger point, the greater value.
Just as the economy was getting up a nice little head of steam, fighting in North Africa and rising tension in the Middle East threaten to slow the forward motion. At the very least, the turmoil and resulting concern over the impact on oil production could create headwinds to recovery, a drag on growth, not […]
It’s been too easy, I think, during the long recession to forget about things such as why we got into this business to begin with. Or why we first fell in love with boating or fishing or sailing. We lose track of the importance of family time; the fishing trip you promised a son or […]
For a moment, I almost didn’t recognize the business leader. He looked — well, he looked different. More relaxed. Confident. Brow less furrowed. Like a weight had been lifted.
In response to the cries about the Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes, Congress has asked the Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a feasibility study to investigate the potential environmental, economic and social effects of the measures being considered that would implement a range of possible modifications […]
Last month Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was derided nationwide for registering his new boat in the tiny-and-thriving boat tax haven of Rhode Island. Many presume that the Senator’s intent was to avoid the significant sales and boat excise taxes that Massachusetts imposes on its registered boaters.
I recently wrote a marketing column in Trade Only about the need for marine businesses to have crisis communications strategies. I referenced the Tiger Woods debacle and compared it to David Letterman and discussed how a well-orchestrated, pre-emptive strike paid off for the king of late night, while Wood’s lingering failure to address his public […]
When my editor offered me a chance to cover the Korea International Boat Show I jumped at the opportunity. It was a chance to experience a different culture, see first-hand how a country with a recreational marine industry in its infancy is growing its boating culture, and learn about a different part of the world.
I am a real estate appraiser who specializes in marinas, and I have some basic advice for marina owners, fishermen, hotel owners and others damaged by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
My beliefs about the economy are complicated. We just came out of the Strictly Sail Pacific sailboat show — the largest all-sail show on the West Coast — and the feedback from exhibitors across the board was refreshingly positive!
Dale Jones recently lost his job. The chief of NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement was removed from his position and publicly berated in news articles, op-eds and blogs across the country. While it’s easy to declare his departure a victory for reform, I think we need to look harder at the real issue. Chief Jones […]
According to market research, the current economy has taken its toll on marinas. Now, in addition to the traditional risks they face, marinas must contend with crimes stemming from economic hardship.
What a difference a year makes. Business is still way off, but the surprise and fear that permeated last year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show as the economy tumbled a bit further each day was mostly gone.
A 2004 report by the National Research Council (NRC) titled Improving the Use of the “Best Scientific Information Available” Standard in Fisheries Management called on the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement important guidelines for use of scientific information in preparing fishery management plans. The NRC report went on to state that “anecdotal” information like […]
Subpar service and a lack of professionalism have plagued the marine industry for years. Now, more than ever, folks on the service side of the business need to make improvements. The old ways — if they left the consumer frustrated or confused — have to change. These days, who can afford to lose even one […]
The first half of the year has passed, and we already know 2009 will be remembered as one of the worst years ever for the modern marine industry. Furloughed employees, weak sales, delayed product launches and tight credit markets have already put their indelible mark on the first two quarters.
During a discussion on Web 2.0 at last week’s Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show, Richard Mundell, a former buyer with West Marine who now works with online course provider Udutu, said something that really stuck in my head.
Mr. Bumble, one of the characters in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” commented that, “If the law supposes that … the law is a ass — a idiot.” So it is with Section 312 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)
In what we at the Recreational Fishing Alliance describe as a “pay to play” version of fisheries management, a Texas-based conservation group has recently gone on record with a radical new approach to managing the nation’s coastal fisheries, whereby access to the resource is offered to the highest bidder.
I recently received a magazine published by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors that is sent specifically to PADI dive shops for their dive shops’ eyes only. What a cool and hip magazine.
The 2009 American Boating Congress is over, but that doesn’t mean the mission is accomplished.
I’m not in the market for a boat right now, but if I were, I wouldn’t hesitate to call Rob Lyons at Ocean House Marina in Charlestown, R.I.
From the name to the format to the venue, the show formerly known as Strictly Sail Pacific has undergone some nips and tucks. Last week’s Strictly Sail Pacific & Powerboat Expo was two shows in one, officially, but the dominant theme was still sailing.
I’ve been actively using Twitter now for about five months, and it took me quite awhile to really “get it.” Compared to some of the most popular Twitter users, I’m still relatively green to the technology and am always learning new ways to be active and understand what all it has to offer in the […]
Soundings Trade Only has joined the social networking wave with the creation of a new Facebook page.
Kaye Pearson was a unique marine industry visionary who constantly strived to make the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show bigger, better and a global marketplace second to none.
A sure sign of spring in the Northeast is the Maine Boatbuilders Show in Portland, which ran from Friday, March 20, through Sunday the 22nd. I spent two days at the show, and during the prime-time hours it was flannel-to-flannel in the many of the aisles.
To keep an open dialogue between Soundings Trade Only and our readers, this week we added a comments section to the bottom of our e-newsletter stories.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is still working on its lineup of speakers for the American Boating Congress in May, but at this early stage this much is known: The 2009 ABC will be an abbreviated one.
Staying connected to your customers requires more than just a Web presence these days. A basic Web site with some nice pictures doesn’t cut it in the age of video, blogs and social networking sites, like Facebook.