At the Helm: Future focused

It seems we spend a lot of time in this industry worrying about young people – and with good reason. 

Gen Xers and Millennials aren’t buying boats at rates comparable to the Baby Boomers or the Silent and World War II generations that came before them. They also aren’t choosing to work in the industry – leading to the workforce crisis we wrote about in detail in the April issue of Boating Industry.

That’s why I’m so excited about this month’s 40 Under 40 special section recognizing stand-out young professionals in the boating industry. These young leaders — mostly Millennials, but also the tail end of Generation X — represent the future of the industry.

There’s been plenty written about the Millennials: that they’re lazy, that they’re job hoppers, that they expect to be promoted two months into the job. And don’t forget the trophies.

Some of this is simple generational change. I remember in the early ’90s all the magazine and newspaper articles about the lazy Generation X. We were the “slacker” generation who were never going to get jobs or become contributing members of society. And if the stories I heard from my parents and grandparents were any indication, there was plenty of complaining about the Baby Boomers by the Greatest Generation.

These young industry leaders help to put the lie to the stereotype of the aimless Millennial. They aren’t the only ones. We received almost 200 nominations for the 2017 40 Under 40 from across the industry.

These 40 individuals run the gamut from dealerships to manufacturers to marinas to software providers. There are people who are running companies and working their way up the ladder. From family businesses to tech start-ups, they are having a significant impact on the future of the industry.

It’s a good time to think about what you’re doing to engage young employees in your business. Yes, they are looking for different benefits and perks than Baby Boomers were. No, they aren’t as loyal to companies as their grandparents – but companies aren’t as loyal to them, either. 

They want a chance to make a difference, to feel like they are an important part of the company, to have a chance to grow in their careers. These 40 young leaders are getting those opportunities and the industry is the better for it. 

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