Q&A: MarineMax CEO Bill McGill on his most recent acquisition


Brent Renneke
March 8, 2013
Filed under Features, Top Stories

MarineMax announced the acquisition of the two-location Florida dealership Parker Boat Company on Tuesday, and with that, the nations largest dealership brought its presence and its Sea Ray and Meridian brands to the last portion of Florida where it was previously void.

Boating Industry spoke with CEO Bill McGill about the acquisition and what it means for his company, as well as his overall growth philosophy, in the first part of a two-part series with McGill.

Were you actively searching for a dealership, or how did conversation about the sale of Parker Boats come about?

We are always open to dealership acquisitions and had been in discussions and are in discussions with other dealers all across the country. [Owner] Roy Parker and his sons have always been a good neighbor to us, and his strategies with customers are pretty well identical to ours, like he has captains for indoctrination, second-to-none service and he takes good care of the customer. He also does Getaway Events just like we do in our company.

There will be no acclimation because they are doing exactly what is right for the customer, so when I heard that Roy wanted to retire, I gave him a call and we started discussing what that could look like. End of the day, we are going to be there to take good care of his team and give them opportunities, as well as use Roy to help us in the transition.

Are similar company philosophies required in dealership acquisitions for MarineMax?

To try to change the culture in a company can take a long time, so when you get a company that takes good care of their customers and is involved with their customers, which are the two most important strategies in this business, that is a huge advantage because you aren't having to change culture.

Was bringing Sea Ray and Meridian to Orlando and becoming the exclusive Florida Sea Ray distributor a goal for MarineMax?

I don't know if I would say it was a big goal, but there is a big opportunity there because the greater Orlando area is about 2.2 million people, and a lot of those boat over on the coasts – not only in Daytona where Parker Boats had a location, but also in the Brevard County area or even in southeastern Florida and the West Coast.

There is a real synergy there to be able to be able to say, “Hey there is a MarineMax store in the [Florida] Keys, in Sarasota or Fort Myers … or if you are heading up north for the Great Loop there are MarineMax stores all the way into Port Clinton, Ohio.”

That is something that we can offer our customers in a big way, and for Orlando customers specifically, we can say hey join us on a Getaway Event that we are doing up in Block Island, R.I., or wherever it may be.

How has your philosophy for acquisitions changed as the industry recovery has picked up steam?

I wouldn't say it has changed a whole lot. At the end of the day it is about the people [at the dealership]. Even though Parker Boats has two incredible locations, at the end of the day it was about the people. It is people doing business with people and making relationships with customers, it is a repeat-referral business. So culture is primarily what we look for as in dealerships that take care of their customers and get involved with them.

If we do [acquire a dealership], we can take a lot of the burden off their shoulders if [dealer principals] are staying with the company, or if their team members are staying. We remove a lot of the burdens, like wholesale/retail financing relationships, dealing with insurance, HR and legal issues. We can give them a chance to focus on taking care of their customer and taking care of their team, the two most important parts of business.

Look out for part two of our chat with McGill next week, as he discusses his overall outlook for the industry in 2013.


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