By Peter Granata, President, Granata Design and the Marine Design Resource Alliance — There's a new bandwagon pulling into town, and if you're too busy ducking bullets you may not notice it. If you hang around the boating industry long enough, you're bound to experience a cyclical downturn. This most recent version has to be the worst since 1980, and many agree that this one is the worst, period. Nonetheless, the point is that it is cyclical. The industry will come back, although it's probably going to look different than it was.
The biggest change will be in the cast of characters. Every aspect of our industry will be affected. Boat builders and their suppliers, dealers and their suppliers. New companies will emerge, and some will vanish. We all expect that to happen. The problem is that no one is sure of the other guy, and the other guy is you!
While under fire, "duckin' bullets" is smart, but after a while, if you stick with this strategy, you'll disappear because no one will know you're there. The new people that come into this industry, both trade and consumer, will not know you.
The opportunity for growth on the rebound is astounding. It won't be business as usual, but that will turn out to be a good thing. New blood in the industry will be part of the acquisition of new consumers. Fresh ideas will reach consumers in a way that old ideas haven't found. Yet, the industry needs to value the old as much as the new, or the new people will make old mistakes without the steady hands of wisdom as a guide. This blend will create something much better and more relevant than before.
Thus, it's important to stand up and be counted.
One good way to do that is to attend and participate in shows and expositions. For OEM suppliers to the boat manufacturers, IBEX is a place to showcase your relevance to their business and let everyone else know you're in business.
There are other shows and expositions for every aspect of business. Your participation is critical for the future of your business. This industry will forget you in a heartbeat if you let it. You have to raise your profile and look for opportunities when the bullets are flyin' or you'll never have a chance at jumpin' on the bandwagon when it comes though town.