There is a movie out called "The Boys in the Boat." A good watch about young men, overachievers, coming out of the depression to win gold in the pre-WWII Olympics.

A better story could be told about "The Girls Out of the Boat" who were the U.S. women of the 1976 Olympics. These games saw the appearance of the East German (GDR or DDR) women's team who were the product of state administered performance enhancing drugs from an early age. When the U.S. women first saw the East Germans, they were awe struck. They were biological women, but they were not women. They were manly in almost every aspect.

The ladies were told to be quiet and compete, be professional. But these were amateurs and one, Shirley Babashoff, could not be silenced. She went on camera and said, "These 'women' are such they sing bass in the shower." The GDR swimmer replied, "We did not come to sing. We came to swim and win." And win they did. 

The GDR women shattered every record. In some swimming meets, they won by several seconds over the favorite, Babashoff. She was nicknamed Shurley Shirley because of her dominance in prior races and expectations of 5 golds in '76.  No gold for the U.S. — everything went GDR.

Then came the women's 400 freestyle. The East Germans held the world record by 6 seconds over the U.S. team's best time. A time impossible to beat by demoralized competitors. Impossible by all except U.S. team swimmers Kim Peyton, Wendy Boglioli, Jill Sterkel and Shirley. They got their heads screwed on straight, harnessed all the frustrations of the unfair defeats and swam the greatest female relay race in history. Each team member clocked a personal best and as Shiley brought home the anchor leg, they claimed the gold and broke the E. German steroid enhanced record by 4 seconds!  

Now this should be the movie. We are looking in the crystal ball, tea leaves and industry publications. We do not like what we see. Increasing inventories, slowing sales, a slowing economy, bearish commodities and newbies at the helm of suppliers that have never been through a nasty downturn. A lot of us have, however. I hope I am wrong, but we see a relay race that will take every department having to swim personal bests to profitably get through the slump. Sales, service, parts and our suppliers have to be team members and competitors to keep cash flow and profits above "water." We, like the ladies who won the relay gold, have to get our plan together, swim that plan and claim the gold of the next market upswing. Complaining to the cameras will not get the job done, but good planning and the hard work of conservative, sound business basics, will.  

'Til next time, with hopefully a better view from the "ball," keep warm and prepare for springtime, then the Summer Olympics.  

Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. —  Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.



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