A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Web 2.0: Do you ‘Twitter’?

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.

Interlux steps up in Miami

There are a lot of awards given out at the Miami International Boat Show. There’s the Innovation Awards, J.D. Power awards and various others recognizing boats, engines and accessories.

Marinas should plan for improvements even in tough times

During a tough economy, many marina owners are reluctant to tackle capital improvement projects. Even if an owner isn’t ready to renovate or expand, owners should consider initiating advanced planning, feasibility studies, and design so that a project will be ready to go when financial standings improve.

Recreational boating study doesn’t add up

Ten years after it was first authorized, the Great Lakes Recreational Boating Study has finally been released by the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite an expenditure of $403,400, which the Corps gave to the Great Lakes Commission to conduct the study, the study is more than eight years late, relies on faulty methodology, and contradicts […]

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.

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 […]