Great “lntel” at the conference

Andy Adams 2018 Edited 400

Dec 6, 2022

Last week in the Editor’s Message column, I wrote that to gain the best guidance at a time of high uncertainty, the consensus of opinion that you could get from attending the Boating Ontario or the Boating BC conferences may have the most value.

I’m always impressed by the collective wisdom of the “herd”. I attended the Boating Ontario Conference and there were a few key themes that kept coming up throughout the three days. 

The “vibe” was really positive and many people commented on that. I know people are feeling like we are just emerging from the lockdowns but actually, we had a pretty normal and open business season this past summer. Seeing other people should not be that novel yet, it felt like it was. Interesting…

Of course, the conference was mainly focused on the big issues facing the industry and in particular, facing the dealers. Clearly, many were celebrating an excellent season in summer of 2022 and quite a number expressed that it had been their best year ever.

We also heard that supply chain issues were getting resolved and that product was finally more available. The impression I came away with was that the consumers are still looking for new boats or at least are planning to repair and refit existing boats. The take-away is that there is generally a positive momentum for boating, even though other comparable expenditures like luxury travel is enjoying strong demand too.

The downside comments mainly centred around staffing issues and we have suffered tech shortages for years now…nothing new there. Except that more than a few people said they had turned to bringing on older people to fill the staffing needs and that “boomers” continue to be willing to work hard, be reliable and some are available. They may be looking for a retirement income boost by working in the summer and as long as they can keep up with the physical demands, maybe returning boomers are a viable solution to marina labour needs.

The more research and demographic data we get about the shortages of labour (really young people willing to take a physical labour job), the more sense it makes to bring on older workers. To cover the load, maybe you hire more people for just part-time hours but it looks like this may be the best solution. Demographically, there are not so many young Canadians in total and in the current labour market, they are in short supply. It seems that is not likely to change in the near-term.

Andy Adams – Editor

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