A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Bigger is better? Not for this boat show

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.”

These are get-it-done days

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 […]

Hold on to your hat

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.

Seeing with ‘vision rather than sight’

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.

A gathering of believers

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 […]

Can a cooler have too many beers?

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 […]

Rising energy prices form a gathering storm

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 […]

A friend and colleague

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 […]

Asian carp: foe, friend or delicacy for the Great Lakes?

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 […]

Where would you register your boat?

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.

BP = BAD PRESS

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 […]

Why South Korea? Why not South Korea?

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.

Will our prospects buy . . . or bail?

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!

New top cop for NOAA, same problems for fishermen

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 […]

Best practices in marina risk management

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.

Postcard from Lauderdale: the new norm

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.

‘Fatally flawed’ science killing America’s No. 1 pastime

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 […]

Professionalism pays off

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 […]

Is your brand unsinkable?

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.

Are you just ‘adding to the noise’?

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.

When ‘the law is a ass’

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.)

Going once, going twice … sold!

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.

Responding to sales leads

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.

Times are tough, but hope is alive

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.

Are you being followed?

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 […]

Remembering Kaye Pearson

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.

The editor’s report: Maine Boatbuilders Show

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.

Our voices must be heard

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.

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 […]