Harken Derm

Only Thing You Can Count on is Change

Published on August 16th, 2018

by Don Finkle,RCR Yachts
We have seen plenty of it over our more than four-plus decades in the boating business, and when you get used to one thing it changes. We have worked through many external challenges that were not of our own making but that certainly had an impact on our business, and by extension our customers.

There have been the losses of so many boatbuilders over the years, some which we represented for a long time and had built up valuable mutual relationships. The consolidation of suppliers has made obtaining parts much more of a challenge than it used to be, exacerbated by the fact that people don’t keep inventories like they used to.

It is truly sad when companies like Hall Spars disappear. Don’t get us started on all the banking changes we have seen and lenders we have watched come and go. Boat designs and equipment have evolved and we have had to learn how best to take advantage of the new features. The process of selling boats has become much more involved and continues to be more so over time.

Maybe the biggest change of all has been that of the customer him/herself. When we first started we sold boats mainly to males. Over time we began to sell boats where the women were more involved, eventually getting to where the women often are the final decision makers of the family. We now sell boats to women by themselves, which was very rare before.

In addition, the children and grandchildren are now much more of a factor when people decide what to buy and when. In the 1970s and ’80s we sold boats to people in their 20s and 30s as well as older clients. Over time the average age of our buyers has crept up to the point where the bulk of our boat buyers are between 50-75 years of age.

This increase has come about partly due to younger people devoting more to building careers and acquiring other things before boats (houses and cars), but in many cases we lose the competition with kids sports activities. Until the kids are done with that the parents don’t tend to address their own recreational desires as they used to.

As much as our family has been involved in sports ourselves we think the current situation has gotten out of hand. Over time some sanity may creep back in so the family unit is not being dragged all over the planet from one game to another.

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