A board of your own

There’s always room for improvement, even at the top.

The most experienced and well-rounded executives in the boating business can benefit from the expertise of professionals outside their company — and even outside their industry.

Dusty McCoy, for example, admits that he’s received a much-needed education from the two marketing experts on his board of directors — Cambria W. Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America, and Graham H. Phillips, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam Advertising.
Others on his board provide guidance in areas ranging from finances and manufacturing to dealer network development and organizational design.
The Brunswick chairman and CEO says of his board of directors: “They are my bosses, and believe me, my board pushes me to teach me.”

Board meetings are more than just an opportunity to present a few reports and then go home, says McCoy. During each meeting, board members dig deep into the company’s strategies, industry conditions and Brunswick’s progress in carrying out its vision. And then, six times a year, they grade McCoy’s performance. That, in fact, is one of the advantages of being a public company, according to McCoy.

“I have great mentors and teachers above me,” he says. “If you think of the quality of people who are my bosses … to say that they have raised the level of my game would be an understatement.”
You don’t need to be a public company to take advantage of such resources, however. Not only do many independent boat builders and dealers use buying groups and 20 Groups to learn from each other’s industry expertise, many marine companies belong to CEO organizations; participate in local, state and national business associations; and attend trade shows and educational conferences that attract leaders from a range of industries.

Sumerset Houseboats President and CEO Steve Lochmueller, for example, recently hosted the 60-member group known as Leadership Kentucky at his boat-building facility. And Mack Boring’s top executives participate in a family business forum put on by a local university and are members of Vistage, a chief executive organization.

Though your instinct may be to hunker down in tough times like these, now is perhaps the best time to seek out a fresh perspective on how you run your business.

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