Iowa trip shows multiple paths to success

Jonathan Sweet, Editor In Chief

By Jonathan Sweet, Editor-in-Chief
October 15, 2013
Filed under Jonathan Sweet

Made the drive over to Iowa’s Great Lakes region from our Minneapolis office yesterday to visit two of our Top 100 dealers: Parks Marina and Oak Hill Marina.

It’s always great to visit some of the industry’s best and I never fail to learn something when I do. (I also never fail to get stuck behind a tractor on one of the two lane roads when I venture in that direction, but that’s another story.)

One of my biggest takeaways from this week’s trip was a reminder just how many different paths there are to being a successful dealer. Take a look at our Top 100 and you’ll see no two companies have done it exactly the same way.

Parks and Oak Hill are great examples of that – two of the best boat dealers in the country, a few miles from each other, yet very different approaches to the business.

Parks has created great name recognition throughout the region through its destination Barefoot Bar, complete with imported palm trees and tiki huts. Walk into the dealership and you’ll see significant real estate dedicated to its popular Barefoot Bar clothing and gear. Throw in its marina, another restaurant and fleet of excursion boats and you almost forget they sell boats, too. (And they sell plenty of them!)

On the other hand, Oak Hill hits you with a beautiful two-story showroom right off the main drag in Arnolds Park. Boats are the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

The great thing is that neither approach is “right” or “wrong,” except in that they both work. Both companies generated impressive revenue growth in 2012 and, more importantly, strong profits.

What they do have in common is a desire to grow, to continue to be successful and an unwillingness to be content with the status quo. If there’s one trait that runs through the Top 100, that’s probably it.


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