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 pioneered the details and perfected the designs. Through their notes and scribbles brought back from boat shows and fishing trips, Grady-White products put the right combination of features and materials on the boats they built. In 1978, the company created the first saltwater dual console, the Tarpon 190, complete with fishing features and an easy-to-clean fiberglass liner.
Today, over 40 years later, Grady-White continues to perfect the dual console design, currently building dual console models from 21-37 feet. The Grady-White team was the first to really 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 a senior vice president, remembers knocking on the door of a Long Island lawyer. “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 and his team delighted. And there were many others.