What are you going to do?
Advertising copy is not often particularly inspirational or insightful. It is usually written to sell a product or service. In some cases, it is written just to build warm, fuzzy feelings toward a particular company or institution.
But shortly after the tragic events of September 11th, an advertisement appeared in (of all places) Yachting Magazine that should be read by every business leader in America. It was written by Michael Joyce, the president of Hargrave Custom Yachts.
The lawyer for Hargrave Custom Yachts was concerned that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would send the economy into a tailspin. Because the decision to purchase or not purchase a new yacht is probably the first kind of decision to be postponed or nixed in a time of economic uncertainty, the lawyer’s concern was well founded. The lawyer was holding some signed leases the release of which could have locked Hargrave Custom Yachts into a substantial financial commitment. So, the lawyer called Michael Joyce, the president of Hargrave Custom Yachts and asked: “What are you doing to do?”
Only slightly edited by this observer, here is the brave reply of Mr. Joyce:
“I thought about it all night and then called him in the morning to say, “release the documents.” I asked my nephew if there were any equipment purchases on our short list, and told that if there were to go ahead and release the orders to the vendors and do it now. After containing my own fears and anxieties about the future, I realized that everyone in this country that has a need for a product or a service, and has the money, has a patriotic duty to release the money and to release it now.
“For better or worse, the American economy in the year 2001 is totally driven by consumer spending. The same two planes that hit the twin towers in New York have hit our economy. Just like those towering buildings, our economy is in flames, and it is only fire-rated to withstand a shut down of consumer spending for so long. After that time period, whole sections of our economy will begin to collapse. And, each level of our economy will take out the one below as it collapses. In buildings, it’s called a “cascading collapse.”
“Terrorists can’t bring this country to its knees. The only one who can collapse this country is you. You and me, our neighbors, our business associates, both here and abroad; if we stop spending, if we stop placing orders, we’re finished. If we all take a wait-and-see attitude, the cumulative effects will be devastating. If we allow ourselves to shut down our economy then the terrorists have, in fact, gained the ultimate victory.
“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in the marine industry, my question to you is: What are you going to do?”
While most of us are not in position to purchase the “Missy B,” a 109-foot, tri-deck Hargrave Custom Yacht that lists for $6,200,000 complete, all of us can certainly admire the courage of Mr. Joyce.
Given the cost of his world-class, ocean-going yachts and the reality that a new yacht is not a “must-have” item, Mr. Joyce isn’t just betting the egg money. He is betting the future of his entire company.
Hopefully, that kind of business courage is not unique in today’s uncertain business environment. If businessmen and women with far less to lose than Mr. Joyce will follow his example, our economy will be okay. But if too many business leaders hold back, we could slip into a worldwide depression on a par with the 1930s.
Not all Americans can serve on active duty now as firefighters, policemen or in the military. But all of us can be economic heroes like Mr. Joyce. So, what are you going to do?”
William Hamilton, the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about terrorism directed against America – is the proud owner of a new sailboat. But it is 83 feet shorter than the “Missy B.”
©2001. William Hamilton.