Powerboat Nation …Truth, Lies, and (NO) Video tape…….
Like many things in life what we imagine, perceive, and intend is often much different than what life is in reality. Such is the case of PowerboatNation.Com. PowerboatNation came about in a unique and interesting way. For quite a while now there has been conversation of common theme by many players in the performance boat world; The general themes is something like this, “How come our sport or pastime has lost a certain connection and the same camaraderie, spirit, fun and excitement we used to have is gone?” Is it evolutionary change, Maybe in part the strain of the economic downturn, or is it just time, pressure, and perspective? I just couldn’t get out of my mind what I believed was the problem. There were a number of indicators that could be easily be seen. The web based communities that were once started and fueled by boaters for boaters were now run by corporate giants, most of the magazine industry that had fed this sport for so many years refused to make changes, began to suffer the reject of the community and drop like flies. New ventures in the print and online failed quickly. My nature is that of a fixer, I am not a good fan, I don’t follow football as a fan, I played Hockey so I am a Hockey fan and I miss skating. So my nature is to do something rather than just talk and bitch about it. I wanted to create a positive difference to this sport and so rather than sit around and continue to listen to the complainers we put this thing in gear and began looking for rpm and speed. I do believe that unless we bring positive awareness and a new lifestyle hook to performance boating it might just fade away and industry efforts such as “Discover Boating” miss us completely.
So far with PowerboatNation we are receiving nothing but overwhelming accolades. Everyone we talk with likes what we are doing and where we are headed, which brings great validation for me and everyone involved. I don’t believe everyone likes it so I can only assume those that done, don’t care or are too #%$&^#(# to say anything to me about it. So I am again working harder at it than maybe I ever planned too, but they say if you love what you do its not really work. Well I do love it but yeah its a lot of work. And truth be told I couldn’t have done this or even begun the journey without the tremendous efforts, financial commitment, and support from a number of people. My family foremost and companies I couldn’t have even imagined. All of this support has lead to some confusion and posturing (Jealousy Maybe I don’t know), So I just felt it was time to clear the air. Tell the truth, smash the lies and (so far no video tape) and give some credit and some transparency to the PowerBoatNation brand.
The brand of PBN different, so is our style, our goal, our objective, and I think there may be some confusion as to who we are, what we do, and where we are going, and undoubtedly how we got here. So stay with me and I’m going to tell what I maybe kind of cool and revealing.
For a long time now I have had a vision, a dream, or at times a nightmare may be a better descriptor. The bottom line is to build something extraordinary that is truly rewarding to the sport, be power boating focused, and related in a way to really make a difference. Lets face it most people in the media part of the industry are in it for money, whether lead here by the fallout out from the magazine industry or huge corporate website giants that own 500 plus websites for the sake of advertising revenue but everyone has their end game. Either way, most are in this as an end game to a means rather than a purest passion for the sake of doing what we do. This is the SINGLE LARGEST differentiating factor. PowerBoatNation wasn’t and isn’t designed to be like any of those entities. Sure we need to be self sustaining, but for the record I haven’t taken a dime nor has any other individual profited from PBN. We don’t have a board of directors and I don’t have to pay my rent or mortgage from any proceeds. ALL of any revenue earned has and will continue to go back into the build so we can bring you the best product possible. PBN was culminated in my head from the dialogue with other power boaters, I had a picture and it was a huge one but I knew I didn’t have the resources to make it all come together. I wanted a collaborative co-op where combined energy creates a positive result and our whole would in fact be greater than the sum of our parts. There was a missing piece and that piece was economics and IT support. Until this effort started I couldn’t have imagined just how many man hours goes into everything we work on to bring to the members.
As fate would have it my idea just happened to crash into a conversation with a close friend of mine Scott from Hardin Marine while they were scoping out a location for potential display in Destin FL at last year’s Emerald Coast Poker Run. You probably have heard and know of Hardin Marine, but what you may not know is they are an aggressive, flourishing, company that is more committed to this sport than anyone else I know. Scott has been a huge advocate of preservation of the sport and looking for ways to make sure it remains sustained for everyone. The conversation started with Scott and turned into a rant from him over a recent offer from the industries juggernaut website that had told him there was a limit to how many new products they would let them debut. He was extremely frustrated and started to explain to me from the marine industry side of things just how limited it was for them and their other friends in the industry to reach the consumer and provide them with new products as well as technical service data. He provided a interesting comparison to the automotive world and how things worked in the world of let’s say Hot Rod. Scott’s fear wasn’t about them as much as the smaller independent manufacture or repair facility that would never be able to afford where the industries marketing was heading.
I want to make sure I emphasize that Scott and the guys at Hardin Marine when we spoke weren’t talking to me about just their own products but their fear of where the industry was headed and the lack of investment being put back into the sport to sustain it. This is the same sentiment that I have always had, there are too many individuals and not enough collaborative support to really make success sustainable for generations; selfishness, and greed putting a stronghold on our collective future.
Keep in mind tough economic times abound and cash money is sacred, so I took the opportunity to give one of my best pitches ever and I pitched them on the idea of PowerBoatNation.Com. “What if we did this……..”, I said. At that Time I didn’t have the name Powerboat Nation wasn’t even in my mind and quite honestly the names I had……well we will just leave it at that and be thankful we were able to get the PBN name. Scott had numerous doubts and I don’t blame him, let’s look at this realistically, a number of people had made half hearted efforts at this with no avail. But he then turned the table and brought a host of idea’s, thoughts, advice, and most importantly a laundry list of things he didn’t want to see my dream become. At the end of the conversation he said it was simple you need to give the performance boating community what they want, not what you want. You need to be attentive to the Sport. So many people don’t or won’t support the events, you need to attend, participate, actually boat with boaters, and give back to them.
His requests seemed well pretty simple yet mountainous to consider. The proposition came about and rather than allow for all the continued speculations, rumors, and non truths, I thought it best to do a simple Q and A so Scott could tell it like it is.
PBN Brad: So Scott do you remember some of the things that lead you to lend so much effort and support to my building of PowerBoatNation.com?
Scott: Well if I recall It was timing I think more than anything. Our company had just been faced with a double whammy type of blow. We had numerous new products that we wanted to show the performance power boating community . We build more new individual performance marine products than nearly the industry combined. So letting the boating community know is a primary concern of ours. We had just received our latest advertising contract for what at the time was the industries leader. We had been told that they would not be able to run those product stories without an investment of nearly $750 to basically report online our press release. Which OK that could have been the cost of doing business but we were told it would be displayed in some off beaten part of the website that had yet to be developed? It felt like Hi-Jacking by the media. They had just provided us banner impression statistics that proved exactly what we thought. After showing our advertising banners to a couple of million viewers that literally only one percent ever opened them, yep that’s right 1 percent. There were other sites that ran like one new article here and there but there were always conflicts.
PBN Brad: So your interest to help me was primarily driven by your desire to bring products to market?
Scott: The bottom line is we are boaters and were very passionate of this sport. The problem is the people that were delivering the message weren’t passionate about it. It’s very difficult to build a collaboration when the other players aren’t committed to this for anything more than money. You have to be willing to be committed and not just involved and that’s a key statement. We had supported virtually every other website and had heard endless promises of advancement but only with limited success. So when I heard your idea and I was inspired, HOPE is what I really had, having watched you promote an entire offshore racing event with success I knew that you could do it but that it was a huge commitment on your part and that it would take more than just hard work it would take a substantial investment of support.
PBN Brad: So a few people have questioned how substantial your commitment is to PBN. They are shocked by it? I mean what’s really in it for you?
Scott: Honestly well when I you first asked for support I wasn’t sure what that meant. I knew you would need revenue to make the deal fly. But as I soon realized you were going to need much more. I was unsure but your infections positive attitude and goal is what I was really most inspired by. Its not too often in this arena that you find someone selflessly trying to do something good. I did some due diligence and finally got my head around what it would take I started my research it wasn’t a whim, I asked many of the industries companies and their founders if they felt they were getting what they wanted from the marine media. I got overwhelming response when I told them of your ideas.
To be completely transparent we even looked at trying to support another existing online community but couldn’t come to terms that made everyone happy as they didn’t want any corporate connection. They enjoyed being the “Stick it to the man” kind of group like rebels with a cause. We were even told that “Stupid Money” meaning BIG BIG money was the only way we could have gotten the efforts from other sites. In the end we figured if anyone needed stupid money it must have been you haha. In the end it really started to make sense that providing you support was the answer that would in turn provide and open new opportunity’s to this industry. Each site has its own vision and we respect that. But we also know the world wide web is a free roaming frontier free to all that want the journey. Which in the end is the best part of what your doing. We wouldn’t have made the leap alone but our confidence came when it was unanimous from all or your other advertisers that this is the future. We felt very strongly that consumers need a place that they could come for not only news, but new products, technical help, technical assistance, and more.
PBN Brad: Ok But WII-FM What’s in it for you?
Scott: There will always be numerous sites that pretend to be boating related but when the veil is pulled back they don’t even have a boat? They don’t attend the events? They merely report what happened and aren’t actually part of making the news. Ok so enough chatter what’s in it for us you ask? At the end of the day there is great satisfaction supporting someone like you and PBN’s goals because I know they are whats best for the sport and our customers. If we can be just one part of what supported the building of the industries best community while sharing products and new ideas then its all worth it. Making a positive impact on this sport is important to us.
PBN Brad: So it’s obvious a lone enthusiast like myself couldn’t have tackled this journey with out your initial efforts and those of the advertisers. But with those we are receiving amazing growth and our services and offerings are growing every month. What do you see when you look at PowerBoatNation now and where I’ve expressed were heading?
Scott: Well I don’t want your head to swell (haha) but I’m really proud of you and what your doing with PBN. I want and hope to see you bring even more as you have eluded to. I think your future ideas are awesome and I don’t see anyone else headed that direction and you are going to really separate PBN from other sites that offer a piece of what you do. But I have more confidence than ever in Powerboatnation. Honestly the best part of it all is that by just supporting PBN’s efforts and watching it grow you have elevated all of the rest of the industry. I mean its humorous and a success all at once. No longer can the other sites idle along on there laurels they have been forced to provide additional services as well. Hey you announce a magazine and they announce one. You provide a tech team and they are bringing a tech team. Now in the beginning I would have told you I didn’t think that was possible. But today I see almost every other website and performance marine media entity either copying some part of your format or all of the sudden working like I have never seen them work in the publishing industry in 15 years. So for the sake of Hardin Marine as a company and for the consumer as well as all of your other supporters of PBN it has had a two fold reward. The rest of the industry has awaken to the needs and desires of the Performance boating community and that’s a huge reward for all of us.
PBN Brad: So in other words would it be fair to say until we pushed the throttles wide open. That the other online formats were just pedaling along on cruise control and now they have to really get up and perform.
Scott: Absolutely. Competition is good for business and now everyone is awake and pushing. Which means your going to have to stay on the gas. But they still don’t have the same level of commitment you do. Most of their efforts are more about competition with you than focusing on the Power Boater. I mean really they may be crafty with a pen but In your case I don’t see any of the other guys showing up to dozens of poker runs and fixing a fellow boaters water pump and at the same time making sure the story gets captured and running a boat on the same run. But no matter what its all good for the sport so stay after it.
There You go guys. This is truly for everyone!