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The Business Page

Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Ferry

Plenty's been said about Mayor Duffy's decision regarding the Ferry on this side of the lake. Here are some links to Canadian media sites and how they are discussing the apparent demise of the service. Check out CBC, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and CBC in Prince Edward Island.

One reader of this blog as much as predicted this decision at the end of last month. He said that it is simply bad business to invest more money to protect prior investments. Every investment, he said, needs to be evaluated independently on its chances for success and an appropriate return.

Smart man. While it would have been nice to see one Ferry untroubled season, Duffy and his team apparently have followed this logic.


Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

There is a BIG difference between being a nice guy and being a LEADER.

The decision that duffy made is that of a nice guy manager NOT A LEADER!

Gee the majority of the people agree - hello- I will bet that not one of those voters has ever generated one job in the area.

Leadership is required if this place is ever going to get into gear. When a leader makes a move TO DO NOTHING the people learn just that - TO DO NOTHING...

This WAS not a wise LEADERSHIP decision, true you can use all the logic you want but that is not the key to being a great leader - so hang on Rochester, you are in for a fun ride.

3:47 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...


Not sure I agree. I think in a position of public trust you have to use common sense - first - before anything else. You're shepherding the diminishing resources of 220,000 people. I understand the need to take big risks, but if you believe in your heart of hearts your project is destined to fail, then going forward is malpractice. Again, this is in the context of a public official. I know you feel he made the "popular" decision -- and you might very well be right. But if there truly is demand for this service, another private entity will come in to fill the void. Thanks for reading and writing in. - BEN

11:50 AM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

Hey Ben,
You sound like you are a financial controller. Always looking at the cost -

What about the benefits. Rooms rented, meals purchased, goods purchased, jobs created, people drawn to Rochester because of the Ferry, ....The finger lakes, opening up of Toronto market for Rochester, and most of all the PRIDE that all the people would have shown working on the project. LEADERSHIP is much more than costs, duffy needs leadership training..

2:35 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...


First, I should have mentioned before: I've never generated a job in this region or elsewhere, myself. So you have to take my sideline coaching on business with a grain of salt. I'm really not focused on the cost. I am talking about Duffy's rationale - he seems to have weighed the risks against the reward, and decided the risks were too great for a municipal government to assume. You and others disagree. I'm not really commenting one way or the other, except to say that I think his thought process is what you would hope for in a public official ... a sober balancing of reality against wishful thinking. I would have liked to have seen the Ferry get one trouble-free, uninterrupted season, but, easy for me to say: I live in Irondequoit.

3:35 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Duffer said...

Ben, Coach, et al: Leadership is not the point. Duffy actually is a leader. Vision, passion,and committment will 'trump' leadership' all day long.

What is missing are 'the goals'... The ferry is not a popularity issue, it is a tool. It is a means to an end... Can it get 'its' job done or not? The answer is absolutey yes! But if we don't know 'what job', or 'what goals'... There is an old saying: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there".
The ferry is the coolest tool this city has seen in 50 years... nobody around Rochester has the Vision, Passion, or committment... so we are on the 'any' road. Duffy can LEAD! (and no, duffer is not related to duffy, he spells his name wrong!)
Thank you for listening to my thoughts and thank you for yours

8:01 AM, January 14, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...


Vision, passion and commitment are important aspects of leadership. It's one of those conundrums -- IMHO, you can't be a leader without vision, passion and commitment. However, I suppose it is true that having vision, passion and commitment doesn't necessarily make one a leader. Whether any of this is relevant in connection with Duffy and the Ferry, I don't know. But since you brought it up: Where do you think the road should lead our economy?

6:01 PM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger Duff-er said...

Coach... you are quiet? 'Ben'... I must quote from Doris Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" Abe Lincoln: (pg.206) "With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed" adding "Consequently he who molds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions." Goodwin said: This statement goes to the heart of his disagreement with Douglas; when such a superior leader insisted that blacks were not included in the 'Declaration'. So much for leadership failing and Lincoln's: Vision, passion and committment... winning.

As for your challange 'Where do you think the road should lead our economy?' Answer: Simply follow the money! Mayor 'D' has never demonstrated entreprenuerial (E's), ability and it is not smart to have our 'worlds' best and brightest (E's) excluded from the equation. A business plan competition for a world-class-solution, with a big prize... would rock-the-house! Instead of paying $9m to bail out... put up $1m as a prize. That is how the King solved the problem of Longitude! Remember! OK Ben, count me in to help fix this simple little thing! Not only would that solve the problem, you'd have 'high energy' falling from the sky like mana and a few laughs too.

6:28 PM, January 17, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...


Being a history minor (but not a Civil War buff) I am interested in this discussion. Seems to me you're making my point -- unless you believe Lincoln was not a leader. He had a superior vision and that made him a great leader. That Douglas was a leader but did not have vision, I think is probably also true. But again, my point was, vision, passion and commitment are a part of leadership, not separate from it.

Is your business plan idea focused on the ferry, or on greater Rochester's economy in general?


10:38 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

Duff-er and Ben,
No we are talking!

The idea of a Million Dollar Prize is what I call leadership!
It takes creativity , guts and you have to have a high degree of SELF-CONFIDENCE.

If upstate is ever going to right itself it will not be via the logic that duffy is throwing about.

We need to inspire people and that will NEVER happen by NOT doing something - Duffy first shot sets the stage and now all the do nothing people are right behind him - Just what we did not need to have happen. BEN, let's get some fire started in the guts of our upstate residents - shine the light and lead the way..

4:29 PM, January 22, 2006  
Blogger Behind The Business Page said...

I am all for the idea of trying to spark constructive discussions of new ways to solve our economic problems. A "Save the Ferry" business plan contest, I fear, is an idea after its time. This is just my estimate of the political winds.

A business plan contest for greater Rochester's economic future, however, might be an interesting idea. I've often wondered, for instance, why our region doesn't take more advantage of our rich business history in connection with tourism. For instance, what about a museum that highlighted the corporate histories of both Kodak and Xerox? The "Business Hall of Fame" at Strong Museum is a start but I wonder if there is some way for this to stand alone? Heck, it could also include Paychex, Wegmans, Gannett and other entrepreneurial risk takers from our past.

Just a thought.

10:57 AM, January 23, 2006  
Blogger Duff-er said...

Greetings Ben and Coach: OK, we are probably past 'good timing' to save 'this' ferry, but there will be more opportunities... And we still have the problem of low moral in the community. Let's look at these facts:

We have a port with no boat, we have a leader who has nothing to lead towards (clear vision), we have a community looking for answers without knowing what the question is! All this resource and energy is wasted.

Let's figure out a way to get the wealthy Simon School, RIT-MBA, City of Roch, and a few angel investors to put up a cool '$mil cash' to create a contest for a "Strategic Community Growth Plan" for the City and Region. The plan should include implementation and all 'typical' contest criteria like financing strategies... Make a big NY Times and Wall Street Journal, Good morning America type press release. Put the finalists on stage at a huge community event (party) and invite all the general population to cast the winning vote, with the 'cash' paid on-the-spot. Bring in Donald Trump to 'fire' the non-winners and make 'The Donald' the titular chairperson of the implementation, with our 'leader' Mayor Duffy to execute the plan!

It may not replace 'The Gong Show' or 'American Idol', but I bet we could get $1mil woth of fun out of it!

PS. One of the local ad agencies can be the preliminary winner of $100,000 to submit their proposal of how to promote and stage 'the plan' for the big plan...

Call-me-crazy! ... but funny! Duff-er

9:45 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger 1Bigcoach said...

The real trick will be to find anyone who would run with you fantastic idea.

This is leadership - in my book!We want to get a firestorm of excitement started or nothing will ever change. Say I wonder if the candidate for Governor Tom G. would like to hear more about your idea.

This is what is needed in order to move forward F=MA ..

Great idea in my book lets call Tom and see what he thinks..

8:45 AM, January 26, 2006  
Blogger ccryder1 said...


Your blog on the ferry was interesting, and it would seem you are right on the mark as to Mayor Duffy’s decision.

The blog mentioning it is bad business to invest more money to protect prior investments is accurate. It is much like the gambler loosing a bet then doubling up to recoup the loss.

Thank you,

11:03 AM, January 28, 2006  

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