By Christopher Kourtakis, director of sales and marketing, 360° Industry Solutions — The other night I was sitting in a local marine business meeting listening to a lot of people discuss how bad the current conditions are. One stated that they have never seen it this bad. Another stated that this was similar to the 1980s and that we used the same techniques now that he did back then.
Listening to these conversations got me thinking. There seems to be a large generation gap in a lot of dealerships, suppliers and boat builders. The experienced owners know how to handle these types of downturns, but what about someone who is up-and-coming? Will they know how to handle something like this in the future, or will they make the same decisions that the current owners and business leaders have made?
As a small business owner, if something were to happen to you tomorrow, who would run your facility or would the business close? Does your business have a succession plan in place? If you do, are you training the person who will one day take over your dealership? If you do not, how many people would be out of a job and how many families would be affected by your loss? Speaking to one of the marine dealerships at the meeting, his main concern is that a majority of his staff has been with the company for several years and that they are not getting any younger.
The same issues can be seen at the boat builder level. How many young aspiring minds are moving up through the ranks in these current economic conditions? How many young leaders will be able to sit around a meeting and say that the next downturn is better or worse than the one of 2008-2009-2010?
There is no better time than now to prepare, implement and train the next leader of your company and the next generation of leaders for the marine industry. If our industry is going to succeed, we not only need to retain the great young minds that are in it, but look outside of the industry to draw in great business minds that will help develop and shape our industry for years to come.
Furthermore, organizations around the country need to get the younger generations involved if they are going to continue to grow and support the boating industry. These organizations have been around for years. Now is not the time to let them fade away.
What steps is your company or organization taking to insure that will last? Does your company have a succession plan in place and is it being implemented?