Going Fishing With Pencils And Notepads. And Gaining A Growing Understanding That The Customer Is The Company's Most Precious Asset.

The introduction of the Grady-White stern drive Kingfish 254 in 1977 ushered in the era of small sportfishing boats venturing far offshore.

"Built by fishermen" became a company slogan. The love for bluewater fish and fishing evolved into Grady-Whites achieving top rank among small sportfishing boats. Eddie Smith, Wiley Corbett and their team were not always the innovators of design, but they were very often the ones who perfected the designs. Through the notes and scribbles they brought back from boat shows and fishing trips, Grady-White's products did become the first to put the right combination of features and materials on the boats they built. They were the first to put the focus on family fishing boats. And they were the first to really focus on making customers exceedingly happy. That focus has built arguably the best customer-company relationships in the industry.

Once during the early 1980s, Eddie had great cause for concern that he would lose his most precious asset, his customers. A bad resin supply was creating a problem with secondary bonding and Grady-White was shipping boats that had the potential to delaminate! Eddie shut down production for three months and sent his team on the road with a plan to do what it took to satisfy customers. Doug Gomes, today's senior vice-president, remembers knocking on the door of a lawyer on Long Island. "You mean I'm not going to have to sue anyone? You're going to replace the hull?" the customer asked, astonished at the visit's purpose. That was one customer Eddie delighted. And there were many others.