From The Helm
Times Are Tough - But There Are Better Days Ahead
I think all of us would likely agree the past year represents the toughest time the marine industry has faced in a long time or, perhaps, ever. While the sailing industry seems to have fared better than the power boat market, there have definitely been some strong and unsettling currents that have caused serious concern among even the strongest of us.
Business is slow right now, but as we look ahead there is some hope. With this in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile this month to share some positive insights with Sail America members. Thanks to my position with Sail America, I have the unique opportunity to speak regularly with sailing-related business owners and managers across the country, representing a broad mix of company sizes and composition. I believe this regular interaction gives me a broad perspective and pulse of whatís happening in our world.
Regrettably, weíre all hit daily with a rush of negative news from the media. Ultimately, this onslaught canít help but affect our psyche and our overall confidence. Many people Iíve spoken with share grave concerns about their businesses due to sluggish sales, challenges associated with wholesale and retail financing, low consumer confidence, and a host of other issues. While there definitely has been declining sales trends in the overall economy, there are also some bright spots worth considering, based on recent reports from my numerous contacts. So, let me share some positive news!
- Attendance at the Strictly Sail shows has been higher than expected, suggesting that interest in sailing continues to be high. Thatís a good thing!
- Retail sales of gear and accessories at Strictly Sail St. Pete, Strictly Sail Chicago and Strictly Sail Miami were level or ahead of last year.
- The brokerage market has been fairly active.
- The aftermarket seems to be holding up pretty well, which suggests that sailors are planning to use their boats this season.
- Many of the custom sailboat builders are staying busy.
- The pocket cruiser and trailerable boat market is reporting solid sales activity.
- New products and innovation continue to drive sales.
- From a consumer perspective, the deals have never been better! We have given the marketplace plenty of incentive to buy.
As we weather this storm on many fronts, I believe it helps to know there are legitimate reasons for encouragement. Besides the sailing news Iíve shared, there are other positive economic indicators to report.
- Housing starts are on the rise, which is where it all began. Click Here to read article.
- Recovery Hopes Begin to Blossom. Click Here to read article.
- Auto sales in March offer promise. Click Here to read article.
- GE recently announced it expects its finance unit to be profitable in 2009. Click Here to read article.
Yes, times are tough right now, but never forget that we sailors are a stalwart bunch. As you deal with these challenges, I recommend that you reach out to other Sail America members for some moral support and encouragement. In my opinion, having the full body of strength and wealth of business experience among us is one of the absolute best benefits of Sail America membership.
Iíd love to hear from you and welcome your feedback and comments on this column, or any other issue youíd like to address. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 841-0900 Ext. 12. Hang in there: better days are ahead!