Walk The Talk...

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Major developments for Spanish motorboat builder Rodman took some believing. But Phil Draper was wrong.


Over the past 15 years I have had to listen to a lot of tall tales. While playing the roving international correspondent, I’ve travelled the world and interviewed more marine industry companies than I care to remember.
The mix of those companies has been as broad as the industry itself — big players, small players, big boatbuilders, small boatbuilders, equipment manufacturers, yacht designers, service specialists and a host of ‘others’. Now in the main this industry is fairly straightforward, as it is mostly a technical business and tends to be managed by technical people, who know their subject and generally have reasonably realistic grasps of markets and potential.
But there have been, and always will be, exceptions.
And yes I have had to listen to some wacky ideas in my time — crazy designs, wild projections. Some schemes have been clever but not quite there. Other’s have been too clever, too soon, too late, too optimistic and just too daft for words, which I have always tried to forget unless there was a joke in there somewhere. But in the main I have stuck to job in hand, justifying my eventual reports by telling myself and anyone that cares to question that I am, first and foremost, a reporter. And so, when the time comes to write it up, I have always put the questionable stuff in quotes and attributed it to the guy or gal that told me.
As to who’s right or wrong, doubt will out; time puts everything straight in the end.

“Occasionally one’s initial opinion or assessment is proved very wrong indeed, which blows away any smugness for at least a couple of boat shows!” 

Far more often than not when I have gone back to see what actually happened the picture is not as anticipated by the original interviewee; and that’s if they are still there. This leaves yours truly to smile inwardly and raise a freshly-licked finger to an invisible wall. But occasionally one’s initial opinion or assessment is proved very wrong indeed, which blows away any smugness for at least a couple of boat shows!
A classic example of this came three years ago at El Salón Náutico Internacional de Barcelona, otherwise known as the Barcelona International Boat Show, where I interviewed a 'new broom' at Rodman Polyships, which for 20 years or more has been Spain’s most prominent workboat and leisure fishingboat builder. Now I already knew a bit about Rodman prior to this meeting, as I had interviewed a number of its senior executives over the years, including the company’s founding president Manuel Rodríguez two years earlier. So what I heard from his recently installed director-general Francisco ‘Paco’ Rivas sounded pretty far-fetched to say the least. We both remember me raising my eyebrows during that one.
What Rivas outlined to me then was a hugely ambitious plan to take Rodman into the mainstream motorcruiser and motoryacht business, up the volumes significantly and make its presence felt much more internationally… But despite the undoubted logic of his argument, an impeccable management curriculum vitae and charming manner, I ended up leaving that meeting with serious doubts about his amazing growth projections and particularly his timescales…
But here we are three years later. And oh how wrong I was. Not only has Rodman achieved its original targets, it’s bettered them!

© Phil Draper