Igniting the Passion – Recapturing the Image

Published on June 4th, 2013

Lou Sandoval is a passionate sailor and co-founder/co-owner of Karma Yacht Sales, a successful Beneteau dealership on Lake Michigan in Chicago. He is also very active in the industry. Here is an excerpt from an interview in the June issue of Soundings Trade Only:

* What do you see as the largest hurdles to growth today? Lack of time? Competition from other activities? Cost? The perceived complexity of learning to sail? All?

LS: As a father of a 4- and a 6-year-old, I’m very present to the challenges that your average two-income American family go through. Soccer games, after-school activities, birthday parties all seem to cloud the family landscape and put a premium on time. All that being said, I’m also present to what supporting these other “pastimes” costs.

When you factor in a three-child family – the piano lessons, the Little league and the soccer leagues and camps – you are talking about a composite outlay of about $8,000 for a season that lasts roughly as long as our six-month boating season in the Northern regions. Quick math will show that this sizable expenditure is well above what it would cost to go boating during that same period of time. I propose the notion that people will spend money and dedicate time to what they are most passionate about, so it really isn’t totally focused on time and cost. Our job is to ignite that passion.

None of the activities I’ve described previously allow a family to truly participate together and commune. Soccer and baseball have you drive the kids to practice or games and sit on the sidelines. They play; you watch. There is little total family engagement. Boating is an activity that the whole family can participate in together. It allows you to get away from the electronic entrapments of our day-to-day lives and relate to one another. At our very human essence we are a communal species. Boats are a vehicle that helps us relate to one another in a setting that helps us build memories.

A portion of what sailing suffers from is perception. As a sailor and businessman I’m ever protective of the image that sailing has in the lay press and general media. How many times have you skimmed the pages of a financial magazine and seen an ad for a financial investment firm with a mature couple on a sailboat? The financial services industry has captured the nautical image to symbolize financial security – something you purchase in your golden years – the pinnacle of financial accomplishment. The message that has been ingrained is that boating is best left only for those that “have it.” It furthers the perception that the sport is expensive and unobtainable for young families.

The vested interests have to recapture control of this image and redirect it as an outdoor sport that the whole family can participate in – a multigenerational sport. – Full interview

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