While I cant clearly see where our industry is headed one thing is for sure, there will be a change in direction. I realize that’s no major revelation to anyone reading this but I do think the change is happening where most people aren’t looking. Everyone seems to be focused on who will or wont survive. What will happen to large companies like the Ferretti Group or Brunswick? How will distribution be affected for companies like Marine Max? Which industry Magazines will survive? While these are all important questions and ones that we should be aware of the real change is happening in the smallest of places. Right now individuals or small teams of entrepreneurs are changing from the ground up. I’ve listed some people/companies that I believe are change agents and leading the way.
YachtWorld.com and Boats.com - YachtWorld started in 1995 and has become the industry standard when searching for new and pre-owned yachts. It has competition but when you look at website traffic YachtWorld along with their blog, are miles ahead of it’s next closet competitor. Anybody remember BUC? (Twitter @yachtworld and @johnsburnham)
Volvo – When they introduced the Volvo IPS system in 2002 the industry was changed forever. 5 years from now all motor yachts will be pod driven. Most people didn’t see it coming, some still don’t believe and many will be scrambling to catch up.
Megayachtnews.org - Diane Byrne is one of the most respected yachting journalists in our industry. Having worked for Power & Motoryacht Magazine for much of her career she left last year to pursue this new endeavour. Look for this site to do huge things in the coming years. Most magazines in our industry still haven’t figured out the web and will fall prey to sites such as this. (Twitter @megayachtnews)
Superyachttimes.com - This is a very interesting site in that it was started as a hobby by Merijn De Waard . The site has quickly climb in ranking and is becoming a great source for the latest information on yachts. In case your wondering Merijn is from the Netherlands and its companies like this that will come out of nowhere to defeat the old publishing empire. (Twitter @Superyachttimes)
George Jousma – President of YachtBlue, George was President of Allied Richard Bertram Group for the past 14 years. His new company wants to change the way boats are sold, serviced and listed. Look at this innovative and fresh approach to usher in change within the retail and brokerage community.
Alan Murphy Jr. – His family owned business Pioneer Linens is changing the way linens are manufactured and marketed in the yachting industry. Having recently met Alan what impressed me most was his use of Google Analytics (several years ago I might add) to determine where to best spend his marketing dollars. He pitted the industry magazines against each other by running ads in each. Then using Google Analytics he was able to determine which brought the best results. The winner was Dockwalk.
Lone Star Yacht Sales - Jim Hedges, Director, along with Matt Redstone, Marketing, are utilizing the web in all new ways. LSYS doesn’t run print advertising, instead they utilize sites like YachtWorld.com or blogs like Matt Redstone to get their message out and sell yachts. (Twitter @matred , also @LSYS)
So there you have just some of the change agents I’ve noticed lately. If you compete with any of these you better keep an eye on what they are doing. I’m sure some will read about these and potentially blow them off as “not a threat” to their business. That’s fine and it’s probably the way they like it. Big changes are coming in our industry and they are going to come from those you least expect. Remember Google was just a silly little search engine when it launched. In no way am I comparing any of the above companies to Google, our industry can never support that kind of growth. However the impact that each could have within their own areas of our industry…well lets just say you better change your direction now or get left behind.
Who else do you think is changing our industry?