Travel, experience, learn and apply (if needed) | Dr Jouko Huju, DBA, GMBA Finland

“He who makes a trip has a story to tell” is a quote from the German poet Matthias Claudius (1740 – 1815). In today’s business world we call them trade missions, study tours or maybe fact finding trips.

The competition in the boating industry (or any industry for that matter) between various brands, products or services is fierce. The consumers can easily inform themselves over the whole offer of the industry in a matter of hours.  The competition though, that our industry should fear more, are other hobbies and activities. Be it caravans, motor homes, motorcycles, golf or travel, to mention a few.  The need for home renovation or a new car can delay a boat purchase.  We need to present the lifestyle too.

Although the marine industry competes against each other we should also be able to develop some sections together.  The better, more innovative and practical our products are, the better the services and maintenance and the easier the whole chain of a consumer’s boating experience is, the better chances we all have to succeed in increasing the number of boat enthusiasts.

Intercultural, open exchange of ideas and methods can be very productive. Should we close our doors to competition or should we let them in, see and hear what they think?   I think we should be more open. That is what the Finns have been doing for a very long time.

Since the 1970’s the Finnish industry has been travelling the world.  Well, even earlier because the first Finnish joint stand was at the Paris Boat Show in 1946.   We have been to all continents, numerous countries and visited together over 250 boat factories, marinas, equipment producers and associations.  We have been given the chance to learn about production technology, marketing, dealer networks and advocacy to name a few.  This all has been a very eye-opening experience.  Sometimes we learn and can apply new things, sometimes we find out that we do things better ourselves.  But all in all, it raises the bar and helps companies understand what the consumers around the world wish to have and where we stand ourselves.

In January 2022, during the worst pandemic of modern times, 16 people from the Finnish marine industry visited eight producers in Florida.   We had agreed on safety precautions and proceedings.  Full vaccinations, negative tests, full time mask wearing were the requirements.  And by the way, no one contracted the virus.

The demand for production boats at this very moment may be the highest through history.  We have to be able to ensure that the production is flawless and ensure that we are in control of the supply chain, which we are unfortunately not able to do at the moment. The companies know what is needed but there are things beyond their control.

The companies that we saw produce thousands of boats. The biggest number we heard for one company was 15.000 boats!!!  Their turnover was bigger than that of the whole Finnish marine business.  Economics of scale are interesting (and sometimes even frightening) to see.

But we saw a lot, we made notes, discussed and the delegation members returned home rich with ideas. Was the trip worth the time spent (a week)?  Absolutely. The next trip is already in the planning.

I am encouraging all to travel even more. Send your people to boat shows and events.  Even people that normally do not travel. It can be very productive.

Dr Jouko Huju DBA, GMBA-Finland
+358 40 5509310

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