Vision accomplished

Matt GruhnThree years ago, our team here at Boating Industry had an identity crisis. We had assembled a collection of editors, sales people, a publisher and a production team that sought to revitalize a brand that had, for the most part, lost its way.

The easy decision at the time would have been for our team to continue what it had always done best — create award-winning news and trends articles on the happenings in the marine industry. The crisis set in, however, when our heartstrings began to tug us in a different direction.

You see, back in early 2006, we identified an opportunity. We had just come out of our inaugural Top 100 Dealers program, and we realized the potential of what this new off-shoot of our brand could offer. As opposed to staying in our journalistic comfort zone, we felt compelled to shift our focus from the news and trends that you all have known us by to sharing the strategies and best practices that would help our beloved marine industry get better.

Individually, we had a vision of what that could look like. Collectively, we didn’t know exactly what it meant, what it would look like or what it would take to get there.

We gathered innocently in our main conference room to discuss it as a team. When we emerged two and a half days later, we had a focus. A true vision that defined who we were, where we were going, and the mission statement to direct us to our destination. That mission statement can be simplified to six words: Trusted Source. Proven Solutions. Real Results. But the delivery on that promise is being fulfilled through multiple mediums.

It began with a transformation of our now 80-year-old magazine, which compiled its first package of dealer best practices in January 2006. By early 2007, we transitioned the much-heralded content to an online best practices portal and weekly best practices newsletter, giving our online audience direct access to the information. Then came the e-white papers — single-topic, digital versions of the magazine that couple best practices with expert advice.

So our vision has come to fruition in both print and online. And by the time you read this, I will be on a plane en route to begin executing the next phase in our mission: to take those best practices, expert advice and proven solutions to an in-person audience at the 2009 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo.

I can’t say enough about our team and how incredibly well each team member has executed on this, the first dealer convention we’ve ever produced. While we still need to deliver on-site, all indications suggest this event will be a wild success. Our dealer registrations are up more than 110 percent over last year. Our total registrations are up more than 170 percent. Our sponsorships and exhibits are up significantly over last year. And the amount of educational content we’ll provide has not only doubled for 2009, but the content itself has also been better targeted for the audience and the economic times that we’re operating in.

It’s interesting to look back and see the visions that we created in that conference room. We wanted to provide actionable knowledge and tools through the content we create, in whatever format we could deliver it. And it’s incredibly rewarding to all of us here to know that we’ve evolved from that identity crisis to know that we have, indeed, become your trusted source for the proven solutions that deliver YOU real results. In print. Online. And in person.

See you when you arrive in Orlando.


  1. Liz, Matt and the entire team; your team is completely living out your mission statement. Our industry has never had a “best practice” tool box like your team is delivering. In the current dark business climate, you are certainly a beacon of hope and your group is certainly giving our industry a road map that when followed will lead to success. Thank you for having the courage three years ago to become dynamic, to throw off the “do what is easy” trap of being even keeled and now being in the perfect position to give our industry what it needs just when it needs it most.
    All the best to the coming week!

  2. Your magazine is taking our industry to a whole new level and I for one am very grateful. The Top 100 has inspired marine dealers across the country and in Canada to become more professional and profitable. At the same time encouraging our dealers to create a better experience for our retail customers. All of this can only serve to grow our industry.

    And thank you again for moving the MDCE to Orlando.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Thank you for sharing this insight into the “transformation” of Boating Industry from a traditional industry news source into a marine-industry business partner. You have outlined quite nicely in my opinion the need to come to the table with the right Attitude and Approach first. Then to define the Goals and Strategy which eventually lead to Tactics and Execution. The result of this process is evident in the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo in Orlando. I was so thrilled to walk into the exhibit hall today and see what your organization has done to transform the MDCE into a true “dealer conference”. This will be a great week!

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