A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

U.S. manufacturing: ‘On a knife edge’

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.

A new definition for ‘BOAT’

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.

So long, tire-kickers

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.

A project changes lives in Maine and Japan

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 […]

Don’t be a ‘stupid salesman’

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.

A victory for all who rely on GPS

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 […]

Diversification: the new business model

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 […]

A shot in the arm for the Miami shows?

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.

Was the Costa Concordia a taut or loose ship?

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?

‘Exactly what the guy wanted’

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.

Shackleton’s leadership has a message for our times

“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 […]

Plotting a course into unfamiliar waters

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.

Surveyors must be savvier than ever

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.

The technology transfer

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.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? Think 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 […]

Showtime in Lauderdale: Will the buyers return?

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.

‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish’

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.

Selling boats amid double-dip concerns

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 […]

9/11’s maritime heroes

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.

Analyzing the analyst

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.

We need jobs, not speeches

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.

Technological wonders in the midst of Irene

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 […]

Hold fast as the storm passes

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.

A few good signs among the headwinds

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.

Simple technology in a high-tech world

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 boat is not a Prius

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.

Catching up with the clan

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.

PFDs and the nanny state

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.

The fuel factor: How will prices affect boating?

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 […]

Initiating the uninitiated

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 […]

Boats, bragging rights and new technology

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.

Bin Laden, the luxury tax and ABC

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 […]