Now is the time!

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Ed Lofgren

Contentious issues between marine dealers and manufacturers have existed for as long as I can remember. And I have been in this industry for many years. I do believe, however, that Now is the time! That’s right… now is the time, during this economic duress, for both dealers and manufacturers to forget about the contentious issues of the past, that so often negatively affected business relationships, and start working together for an industry renaissance.

I am still naïve enough, at 72 years of age, to believe that this can happen. Dealers and manufacturers can and must work together to rebuild this industry and bring it back to good health. And if we do work together, with this common goal in mind, it could bring good… no… great things to us all.

I believe the economic morass has changed the game. It has brought us back to Square one: dealers need manufacturers—and—manufacturers need dealers… more than ever. It’s that simple. And, I don’t believe the balance of power has swung in one direction or the other. We are now all in the same boat as a result of the economic chaos. The only real way out, the only direction that dealers and manufacturers can choose… must choose… at this point, is Cooperation with a capital “C.” To think and act otherwise is to place the future of our Industry and our individual businesses in dire jeopardy.

Soooooo – For starters, we must start writing Dealer/Manufacturer Agreements together; “bonding” more than ever, and stressing two-way loyalty, and fairness for both parties. No more one sided agreements!

Have I always been this naïve? YEP, pretty much so. I have long yearned for the old “handshake” days, when there was two-way trust. I always thought it could happen again if we really wanted to make the effort. And now our common enemy—the economy—has changed the game.

I’m ready; have been; and I hope for the sake of all Dealers and all Manufacturers (who survive this morass) that everybody is ready! It is absolutely true that out of adversity comes opportunity—and, as they say, “opportunity is knocking.” Let’s all answer the door— now! NOW IS THE TIME! Let’s work together for the good of all.

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About Ed Lofgren

Ed Lofgren, Chairman of the MRAA Board, co-owner and CEO of 3A Marine Service, a boat dealership located in Hingham, MA, has been in the boat business since 1960. He is also a long-standing member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association and a Trustee of its Educational Trust. A graduate of Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in history/government and a masters degree in international relations, Lofgren served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam era with as a First Lieutenant. Lofgren also taught for 21 years in the Massachusetts public schools system and also at the university level. He currently serves on the Marine Industry Training and Education Council (MITEC), the Youth Council of the South Coastal Workforce Board, as a Director on the Board at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay (a Ma. Environmental advocacy group), as the Massachusetts representative to the New England Marine Trades Assn., and as President of the Panagia Church Parish Council in Cohasset, MA. Lofgren and his wife, Angela Marie Lofgren have been married over fifty years. They have two daughters, one who is a principal in the dealership, and two grandchildren.

3 thoughts on “Now is the time!

  1. Well said, Ed. There is a lot of change needed and the current circumstances provide a real opportunity to do things differently as we rebuild a stronger industry different than what we have known.

  2. OPEN YOUR OWN FACTORY!!

    Any dealer naïve enough to think that somehow this near death experience on the part of manufacturers caused by this financial meltdown is going to suddenly teach them to respect the dealer and to treat him as an equal partner is delusional and deserves what he gets. Each new factory management team that shows up in the coming decades can only jack up their pay and bonuses by shipping more boats. Either the dealer takes them or they open up a new guy down the street who has some room on his floorplan (pretend for a moment somebody does!)

    If you really want to make a difference in your lives consider creating your own brands and opening your own small manufacturing plants with a half dozen other dealers spread out around the country. This is not rocket science folks. You go get a top designer like Michael Peters and have him design some hot new models that cover only the 80% you need (80% of your sales come from 20% of your models) and then contract out the production in the short run while you wait for some nice factories to be offered by the bankruptcy courts in the next few years.

    You and your six friendly dealers then own your own brand, own the factory, and finance the entire venture just with your existing orders. I call these kinds of companies POD Projects which is short for “Pissed Off Dealers” and there are a lot of them out there. This trend is becoming more common in the larger size range (60’ and larger) where a new yacht brand is created ever 90 days and it works amazingly well because the project creator already has the retail relationship with his buyers. This industry was built on the backs of dealers since the early 1950’s and in all that time you can’t even count the number of times manufactures have pulled the franchise after the dealer gave 25 to 40 years of his life to the company.

    While to be sure there are some family run manufacturing companies who have a long history of supporting their dealers through the good and bad times there are plenty of giants who do not and cannot by their very nature. Regardless of how many zeros are on the financial statements, this is still a mom and pop business and maybe it’s time for mom and pop to look at some new options going forward. There are some amazingly talented production people standing in the unemployment line who would love to help you.

  3. Ed when you are a little older and reach my age (73) you will realize just how well you stated the industry’s problem and the logical solution.

    Anyone who missed it should also look at Thom Damrich’s speach to the National Marine Bankers Association in the trade press. It looks like the nucleus of manufacturer-dealer agreement is being spawned.

    Best regards and see you at the MRAA convention.
    John Underwood

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