Features

Right size me

We live in an increasingly health-conscious society today in terms of our bodies and our businesses. Fit and trim is the universal ideal for both. The economic downturn has made meeting this ideal increasingly dire for many businesses, and this urgency is perhaps even more pronounced in the marine industry. Boat dealerships nationwide are scrambling to stay afloat, and in ...

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Go back to the basics

“The first 10 years were easy,” says Redline Watersports Owner Paul Vitucci half-jokingly. “It’s getting to the 11th that’s going to be tough.” That’s why he has asked his staff to refocus on the basics and implement what he calls “the Disney model of business.” Vitucci explains that at Disney World, everything is happy and fun, but in the tunnels ...

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Think pre-owned

Fischer Marine started as a pre-owned dealer in 1989, and 20 years later, it has gone back to its roots. Tom Fischer, the company’s president, says that while Fischer added new boats to its lineup seven years ago, the economy has caused him to re-focus on the company’s original mission. Until recently, the pendulum had swung increasingly to the new ...

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Set aside your ego

When Nautical Enterprises looks ahead, the boat dealership and marina operator hopes for the best, but plans for the worst. CEO Michael Berk says the recently completed 2009 budget forecasts a likely scenario, a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario. The company will try to build its overhead on the worst-case scenario. Berk says his budget-driven company has been able ...

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Return to your roots

Twenty years after starting out as a good-sized service company, South Shore Marine finds itself going back to the future. “We’re getting back to our roots a little bit more,” says Tom Mack, president and owner of the Huron, Ohio, dealership. “For the last several years, sales have contributed the lion’s share of our gross profit, but in 2007 and ...

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Diversify

Unified Marine faced the biggest challenge in its history in 2002. After successfully developing a niche market serving mass merchants, the marine accessories manufacturer was experiencing strong growth, primarily though a contract with Kmart. Then, Kmart declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “Eighty percent of my business went away in one fell swoop,” explains David Nirenberg, CEO. “My bank, my CPA, my ...

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Support your customers

The folks at Gougeon Brothers Inc., makers of West Brand epoxy, not only know their products, they also know what their customers are working on. How? By gladly answering more than 10,000 queries annually about their products and epoxy in general. Questions come not only from do-it-yourself boat builders and repairers but OEM builders, boat repair professionals and customers using ...

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Know your brand

Identifying the right survival strategy is easier when you are clear-minded about your brand. Consider MasterCraft. The 40-year-old boat builder grew by 5 percent last model year when much of the rest of the industry was down. Although it has seen significant softening since then in nearly all geographic regions, it isn’t changing its strategy. “We still believe that our ...

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Compete on Customer Service

When George Wilcox started George’s Marine & Sports in 1969, he set a standard of customer service that guides his son Jeff, the current owner, to this day. “I can remember times when he left us on Christmas Day because someone had broken down on a snowmobile, and he went in to fix them or get them parts,” Jeff Wilcox ...

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Develop a contingency plan

Dave Commander hasn’t been around for Russell Marine’s entire 50-year history, but in his six years with the dealership, this is the toughest time he’s faced. Commander, vice president of marketing for parent company Russell Lands, says what it takes to last a long time in business is pretty simple: You need a plan. “To get through bad times, what ...

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