Garmin, Raymarine and Navico. All of them
are trying to differentiate themselves. The
Internet also played a big part in our industry,
as in every other one.
The relationship between dealers and
manufacturers has been contentious at
times. Any thoughts on how that can be
I think the relationship between manufacturers and dealers has always been good—not
perfect, nor will it ever be. I feel the relationship was better than people thought. It’s better today in large part because of NMEA,
which has matured and grown into an organization that’s not constantly trying to stir
things up between dealers and manufacturers. In the past, NMEA was a tool for dealers
to beat up on manufacturers.
Johnny Lindstrom (former NMEA chairman) did a lot to move it forward, and Mike
Spyros is continuing the trend of NMEA moving away from being just a dealer organization
to a true marine trade association, where dealers and manufacturers have equal say and
realize we’re all in this together. Each wants
the other to be successful.
Any advice for either side?
It takes work on both sides. You have to
look at things realistically and understand
what the other side faces. With manufacturers
you’re dealing mostly with publically traded
companies that have fiduciary responsibilities
to shareholders. They’re under pressure to
maximize distribution of products—you have
to look at all of the different ways to do that,
including NMEA dealers, mass retail, Internet
sellers, big distributors and selling directly to
end users. There are ways to do that without
upsetting the apple cart.
Dealers need to look at the market and be
realistic about what customers they’re going
to serve. They won’t get everyone. They must
be clear with themselves about what they’re
offering customers and why customers would
choose them. They have a lot to offer—
expertise, service, training, putting together a package of electronics and installing it. Some customers just want to buy products in boxes.
A lot has to do with getting out of their
comfort zones. Some dealers focus on commercial or recreational or on power or sail.
There’s money to be made selling to all of
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One of the farm’s boarders is a pregnant
Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, a breed favored
by British royalty. Lou had plenty of time to
ponder our questions from the seats of a pair
of new John Deere tractors. He has since
added a third to the fleet.