A good competitor

Liz WalzIn my last blog, I mentioned I’d been thinking about how my martial arts experience translates into the business world, particularly today’s boating business. Here’s another example. I got schooled by a teenager last night during a sparring class. He happens to be a second degree black belt, one level higher than me, so I went into the match with my game face on. Early on, I caught him with a few well-placed hooks to the temple that had me feeling good. But toward the end of the match, I was getting tired and I inadvertently gave him several opportunities to clock me back. Instead, he pulled back, barely tapping me.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that he chose to exercise such control. After all, Max is a good kid, and he knows the rules we play by. We’re taught to hit, but not hurt our training partners. While we’re judged by our instructors based on how well we spar each other, they also expect us to support, encourage and coach each other. It just makes good sense. We’re all a part of the same martial arts community, and to reach our personal training goals, we need good competitors to push us and even teach us.

So it is in the boating industry. Every day, our businesses and organizations go up against each other. In today’s market, the outcome can mean the difference between surviving and going out of business, so it’s important that we fight hard and well for our own.

But because there’s so much at stake, it’s also easy to get caught up in the competition, to forget that the best case scenario is to operate alongside strong competitors who push us to get better. When one member improves, so does the industry. And when a member falters, the ripples are widespread.

Consider the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of one of our largest members, Genmar Holdings, filed earlier this week. Regardless of the outcome, there are few in the industry that won’t feel an impact. But whether you like Irwin Jacobs or not, whether you’re a Genmar competitor, creditor or dealer, we all should exercise some control. By all means, keep fighting for your business’ future. But remember to be the best training partner you can be. In today’s uncertain times, it may not be long before you’re the one counting on the good sportsmanship of your peers.


  1. Great point, “When one member improves, so does the industry. And when a member falters, the ripples are widespread.” The challenges that face our industry are massive, anyone who is cheering for companies to fail would be a fool. The only way through a storm this size is for everyone to stick/work together. The enemy is the poor economy and the only way to defeat such a formidable foe is to come together, all of us, and work to change this industry.

  2. No where is it more true than in the boating industry that “a rising tide floats all boats”.

  3. Certainly the challenges we face and endure make us think harder and smarter. The marine market is struggling and I agree it’s important to focus on the betterment of the entire industry. Competition is important to stimulate growth however the future of our businesses may be dependent on strategic thinking and action at the highest level.

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