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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a way this is a fishing article. It’s a story about how a brain fart three years ago set up a company catering to fishers and their boats and how it came about. It’s also a story about a retired consultant and how, today, he’s not only involved with boat repair and maintenance but also into boat canvas and upholstery – and not knowing a smidgen about how it’s done (but at 69 learning).

Three years ago I took my boat in for spring maintenance at a company who’d been doing my fall and spring work and all the people I knew weren’t there. At the beginning of the year the company (let’s call it Sunshine Marine) had been sold and the new owner had a concept the staff – how can I put this diplomatically – didn’t cotton to. The general manager declined to join the new owner and, within several months, the parts and services manager, the bookkeeper, and the head mechanic quit. So then the brain fart.

I had retired earlier from my international consulting company. Clients in 22 countries, that sort of thing. Not that I was at loose ends since I had planned to spend as much time as I could at the helm of my 20-ft Bayliner fishing for salmon. However, what crossed my mind was here was a group of people never again available. They would scatter to do other things and my brain fart was to finance a new marine services company and keep the group together. It took about half a million to do just that.

The ex-general manager and I had lunch and I gave him this proposition: I would finance the new company and he would have total control of it. I said I wouldn’t micromanage a damn thing. In essence I gave him a blank cheque book and said he could spend whatever he wanted to make the company go. After that lunch Robert Bruch, the CEO of the new company, called all the others saying that Michael was funding this project and a month later we started Brigantine Marine in Langley. Now you know the story.

Here’s the rest of the story.

As a consultant for more that 30 years I know a pattern of success: find those who know what they’re doing and let them do it – and reward them for doing what they know well. At the end of the first year I gave each shares in the company and said, “Now you’re all owners.” So, when you come through the doors at Brigantine no matter who you speak to you’re talking with an owner. We have open-book management and everyone knows our dollar position. Everyone knows how each division is financially and how much we have in the bank for the quieter winter months. The rest of the story is how I set up a company based on 30 years of seeing companies succeed or fail. To sum it in a phrase: you can manage risk by doing rather than not; those who never try never know success.

Case in point. We started, in our second year, an upholstery division. Good idea yet hard to implement. It’s easy enough to buy sewing machines yet it’s hard to find people who know what they’re doing on them. Boat canvases and upholstery is far different than making chesterfields: there’s all sorts of specific necessities right down to what thread you use – chose the wrong one and things come apart Real Fast. So we found the person who knew all this stuff and she’s in charge. Once again, find people who know what they’re doing and let them do it. This new division is barely a year old and it’s already in the black.

I promised a fishing story yet it’s more than that. In three years this almost-70 year-old has talked with many fishers who bring their boats in and it’s been a delight. I have learned much in the past three years and, God willing, I’ll learn more in the forthcoming years.

So the story really is the Education of Michael in a situation Michael never dreamed of some years ago. At retirement age I became a student and the staff and clients at Brigantine are my teachers. What makes this deeply satisfying is that I am learning. It may sound naive yet I now know how to match a prop to the engine and boat and make the right choice; I can talk about four-stroke engines with some authority; I can talk about GPS, radar, and sounders and be confident in recommending a particular line; and I can see clearly how people know exactly what they want from their boats and how they react to how we love boats.

So that’s chapter three of the story. Chapter one: start. Chapter two: grow. Chapter three: who knows? It’s exciting.

MichaelR
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One day, when you’re retired, you’ll think you’re future is laid out yet there can be some surprising bounces. That’s all I wanted to write about. No nefarious reason, shameless plug or whatever. Just how my plans for retirement took a deke and now I find myself doing something I hadn’t even thought about.

If what I wrote came across as promoting something I hoped it was a promotion for being older isn’t necessarily a reason to stop doing things. Some people dream of retiring and opening a B&B and there’s some on this site who would make fine fishing guides or even open their own resort; I opened a marine service company and I am as surprised as anybody.

MichaelR
 

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Yes life does take some suprising bounces as we get older and our plans nearing retirement do change ........... I for one really appreciate that part of your "story" if that was the intent.

I did however notice that you did manage to promote your business name at least 3 times within your "story" ............ to me that's just pure advertisement.

Anyways, ........... good luck in your venture. :cheers:


GOFISH 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
GOFISH:

Thanks for the kind wishes.

I mentioned the company to show it wasn’t an abstract about an old fart finding something to do in retirement. It’s a real place with real people doing ‘stuff’ that as a boat owner I’d never before seen behind the scenes. I’ve run several businesses in the past 50 years and making a pay cheque is something I’m familiar with yet starting the boat services company was a departure. So much so that it took a steep learning curve: just because you’re an old dog doesn’t mean you can’t learn new tricks.

And, truth be told, I am pleased with what has happened across the past three years and wanted to share that. My first words were that this isn’t a fishing story but a story still unfolding about what it’s like between times when boats coming and boats leave to go fishing. What I find fascinating is that if, five years ago, you’d say I’d be talking somewhat competently about lower-end gear ratios in the future I would have asked what you were smoking.

Life has many twists.

MichaelR
 
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