MY BLACK MONDAY
by Dan Streech
Jim and I were sitting in the conference room putting the finishing touches on a contract for the Buyer that we were meeting with. The door opened discretely and our secretary told the Buyer, Lenny Barad, that he had an urgent phone call.
Some minutes later Lenny returned to the room ashen faced and announced “the market is tanking- it is a disaster”. Needless to say, the contract did not get signed that day and we all spent the day in misery and in a state of anxiety and uncertainty as the media screamed doom and gloom. A very bad day that I will never forget.
If you think that I am talking about last Monday the 29th of September 2008 when the market dropped 7%, I am not. I am recalling what happened on October 19, 1987 when the market dropped 22.6% in one day.
Some weeks later, Lenny (and all of us) regained composure, the contract was signed and we built a gorgeous Mason 54 for him called BLUE YONDER. Lenny sailed the boat to Hawaii in 1990 with Jeff Leishman, Larry Gieselman and me aboard. It was the last passage that I was to make where I was “disconnected” (meaning no Satellite phone or internet) and it was a classic trade-wind dream trip. The 6 of us aboard laughed, joked, pulled pranks, ate like gluttons, read books and reveled in the indescribable pleasure of sailing a powerful big rigged boat in strong steady trade-winds.
Lenny died of cancer a few years ago. To his dying day, Lenny talked about that trip with a smile on his face.
Why do I tell this story now? I think that there is something to be learned from it. The financial markets are in turmoil, there is uncertainty in the air and we are unsettled. This is not a prognostication of what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months- frankly, I don’t know. What I do know for sure is that what is going on now is not “different” and that it will pass. 10 years from now, the current situation will be a footnote in history and forgotten by many.
For several years now I have become more and more fascinated with the interplay of powerful current events and our ability to quickly forget them as the next new “disaster” appears on the horizon. When someone mentions a boat built in say 1980 or 1990, my first thought goes to what upsetting event was going on in the background at that time (and the list is long). Two oil shocks in the 70s, 22% interest rates, USA luxury tax, Russian currency meltdown, Y2K, Asian currency melt down, Gulf war, 9-11, 1991 housing collapse, USD collapse (several times) Savings and Loan scandal, dot com bubble collapse, Katrina, saber rattling from various despots around the world and on and on and on. Admittedly, this list is somewhat “USA centric” and people from around the world will be reading this thinking of different upsetting events. Make your own list based on your own perspective.
My point is that a good boat and the wonderful memories that it can make will long outlast the current disaster that we are wringing our hands about.
We at PAE are not taking the current situation lightly, but we are also far from panicking. Our type of business is slow motion and requires a steady hand. New projects require years of design and development and it is inevitable that an upsetting event will occur right in the middle of a big project. Take the EYF75 project and the MS56 project for example. Both of those projects were started several years ago and now the first hull of each of model will be shipped shortly- right into the teeth of the current situation.
35 years of boat business wisdom tells me that in 10 years, each of those boats will have had several owners, will have log books packed with stories of fun adventure and happiness and will radiate that wonderful patina of a high quality boat which has been seasoned with thousands of hours of use…. Oh, and the Dow will be at 24,000.