As I write this, Matt, Mike and I are sitting in a cabin in northern Minnesota watching the sun go down as we take a break from reviewing our fifth Top 100 application of the day on our fifth day of the review process.
Keeping that theme going, this is the fifth year we’ve traveled to this cabin on the Whitefish Chain of lakes to eliminate all outside distractions so we can focus on selecting our annual list of the Top 100 marine dealers in North America.
We get a lot of grief from our friends in the office about taking a few days to leave town and get away. They joke that we’re going to be fishing, skiing, swimming and basically all the other fun anyone would associate with a week at the lake.
We smile and play along, but we know the reality is quite a bit different. We’re up early enough to go after any fish we would care to. But instead of loading up and heading out on the water, we have some coffee and watch all the other boaters as we open our first application of the day and go through it question by question (there are 74 on the application form). Some require just a name or a number, others ask for more information.
While no two applications are the same and some can be evaluated more quickly than others, several hours are required to go through each. And this week is just the beginning of our process. We won’t come close to evaluating even 25 percent of the applications while we’re here. Add to that the fact that our editor-in-chief Liz Walz is currently on maternity leave and will also be going through the applications when she returns. Then we’ll all have to meet and make a final determination of the rankings.
So while this week marks the start of our review process, it’s only just beginning. But we’re not complaining. We know that the amount of time it takes for us to read the information in each application is only a fraction compared to the amount of time it takes for the dealers to compile it, and we learn a tremendous amount during the process.
So for those of you waiting for us back in the Twin Cities, don’t expect us to show up tomorrow with a tan and tired muscles. (It will be more like bags under our eyes and an aversion to sunlight.) But for those of you who took the time to apply and everyone who helps sponsor the Top 100, thank you for making this program possible. We truly appreciate it.