Big bets replacing dire forecasts

Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor

By Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor
November 15, 2013
Filed under Tom Kaiser

I have covered the outdoor fun market for nearly 8 years now — ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, RVs, camping and marine. Starting in this biz was kind of like being dropped by helicopter onto the deck of the Titanic an hour before the impact.

“This place sure is nice,” I thought as I sized up the powersports industry back in my mid 20s. I also thought, “Everybody’s making so much money!” Our magazines may not have been printing money, but it took a clobbering recession to realize how flush we all really were back then.

Covering all sectors of the powersports industries throughout the recession was depressing. Media contacts and many respected companies we worked with disappeared without a trace. Interviews often took a dark turn. Product development ground to a halt, and those monthly industry-only sales figures… It was hard to be optimistic seeing that apocalyptic data.

Heading into 2014, things are different. Remember back in 2009 when an economist at JPMorgan Chase mentioned “green shoots” coming to save our economy? I do, and I remember looking for those same signs of life in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

They said the America recession technically ended in 2009 when GDP growth resumed, but it’s taken until now for things to seriously feel better in most segments of outdoor recreation/powersports.

Without naming names, I’ve heard two industry experts — one in marine and one in powersports — suggest that their sales could theoretically double (or more!) if current economic/demographic trends continue or accelerate.

Let me stress this: I think they were both making speculative predictions, but they said it for a reason. Right now, six years after the start of the Great Recession, it’s reasonably possible that really good times are ahead.

With this kind of optimism, 2014 will be a much better time to cover this biz. Housing is healthy, unemployment is dropping, federal deficits are slowing, peace with Iran seems imminent, we’re almost out of Afghanistan, China is undertaking massive reforms that could stabilize the globe’s growth giant and average American gas prices have sunk below $3.

Let the good times roll!

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