This interview is part of the article The Next Generation.
What do you see as the industry's biggest challenge?
There are several challenges facing the boating industry today. I believe one of the biggest challenges our industry has are the rising costs associated with getting into boating. The prices consumers must pay to purchase new or pre-enjoyed boats or watercraft continue to rise making it harder and harder for first-time boaters to get into boating as well as seasoned boaters to upgrade. I believe we must stabilize the costs associated with boating in order to experience continued industry growth.
What makes you optimistic about the industry?
There are definitely reasons to be optimistic about the boating industry. First and foremost, 2012 was a very successful year for many dealers across the country, including many regions that had been hit hard by the recession, giving all of us hope.
How can we attract more young people to the industry as boaters?
I believe the most important thing that can be done in order to attract new, younger boaters is to provide a level of customer service that is superior to any other industry. We must continue to show people that the boating lifestyle can be convenient and rewarding and that a boat owner’s best two days are definitely Saturdays and Sundays.
What do you think the younger generation brings to the industry?
The younger generation is the future of the boating industry. I think the younger generation brings much needed change to an industry that has been successful but stale.
The formulation of YLAC is just one example of how the younger generation wants to get more involved. I believe we are imperative to the growth of the boating industry by bringing new ideas to the table and getting more and younger families and individuals involved with the boating industry and in boating.
How did you get involved in boating?
I was introduced to boating when I was 16 years old. Growing up at the lake, I didn’t have much exposure to boating except for with a few friends here and there.
After my sophomore year of high school I applied for a part time job at Oak Hill Marina, working in the rental department and on the gas dock. I spent several summers and school weekends working on and around the water before being introduced to the sales team my sophomore year of college. I’ve been with Oak Hill Marina ever since and my love for boating continues to grow as I’ve been able to introduce the boating lifestyle to my wife and children and our families.
Why did you join the YLAC?
I joined YLAC so that I could have an impact and so that I could make a difference. I have been in the industry for 20 years now and have had some great mentors along the way. I hope that one day I can be looked upon as a leader in this industry, blazing a trail for the up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow.
What can boat builders and other manufacturers do to help dealers be more successful?
I don’t necessarily believe that it is on the shoulders of the boat manufacturers/builders to make sure we as dealers are successful. Their cooperation is definitely helpful, but as young leaders, we need to move forward with the idea that we as dealers and the manufacturers need to work together as partners in order to achieve success as a team. At the end of the day, we are both trying to put the products in the same person’s hands, the end consumer.
How has your perspective as a young leader helped you improve your company?
I must say that I have had a lot of help in developing my leadership skills from the Spader team. Knowing how to handle different situations and different personalities properly has helped me become a more effective leader. Also, consistently recognizing the importance of building a positive dealership culture has also helped our dealership by making it a more rewarding place for all employees to work.