Best In Class

Slalom Shop Boats & Yachts
Highest-Ranking Dealer With 1 or 2 Stores

Darrell Wilson has set the groundwork for incredible growth. Once a waterski sales rep for Slalom Shop Boats and Yachts (Ranked 6), Wilson purchased the Lewisville, Texas-based dealership 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back. He drives the company with the goal of creating an atmosphere where boating enthusiasts can experience the ultimate collection of quality boats and yachts, along with all of the latest toys that go with them. To that end, Slalom Shop has developed and marketed its own academy for the different types of boats it sells. There’s a Slalom Shop Yachting School, Boating School and Rider’s School that caters to the needs of each type of Slalom Shop customer. And the company has become the highest-ranking dealer with 1 or 2 stores by using what Wilson calls the three Ps: a collection of the most respected Product, sold in the finest Place in north Texas, by the best People in the industry.

Parks Marina
Highest-Ranking Dealer With 3 or 4 Stores

When it comes to pure atmosphere, there may not be a dealership that better portrays the boating dream than Parks Marina (Ranked 9). Located in Okoboji, Iowa, Parks has used a tiki theme and a host of additional attractions to become the preeminent boat dealer in the Iowa Great Lakes area. The company runs differently from most. In fact, ownership claims to have an incredibly low net profit – because it has one of the most extensive employee profit-sharing programs around – and it says that it has “figured out how to make ‘money at advertising,’” by creating two lakeside lounges and “family playgrounds” that drive boaters to them. It’s that overall atmosphere that helps Parks run the largest Crownline rendezvous in the nation (in Iowa, mind you). And it’s that family playground mentality that motivated at least 12 of the company’s customers to compete to write the theme song for the company’s Barefoot Bar. The surroundings make it a great destination. Capitalizing on the strategy makes it a Top 100 Best in Class award recipient as the highest-ranking dealer with 3 or 4 stores.

Russell Marine
Highest-Ranking Dealer With 5 or 6 Stores

Nestled around Lake Martin in Central Alabama, Russell Marine (Ranked 10) capitalizes on the expanse of resources its parent company, Russell Lands, affords it. The residential real estate company has built several single-family and condominium developments on Lake Martin and also owns several hundred lakeside rental homes, two golf courses, seven building materials stores and an energy business, in addition to its four full-service marinas and two boat dealerships. But amidst all its other businesses, Russell doesn’t lose sight of its boat business. All four of its marinas have achieved Sea Ray Master Dealer status, and the company says it had the highest sales percentage increase of any North American Sea Ray dealer in 2005/2006. The company’s vast resources contribute to incredible marketing programs, especially when one considers the ability to tap into a database of more than 2,500 potential customers with whom the parent company has made contact. The corporate office also provides training opportunities to ensure all employees are well-trained. And it’s the attention to detail – showcased by a 96.5 CSI score – that makes Russell Marine the highest-ranking dealer with 5 or 6 stores.

Clark Marine
Highest-Ranking Dealer With Revenue Under $3 Million

Clark Marine (Ranked 31) is small, and owner Rob Brown loves it that way. Brown has made a conscious decision not to branch out into other markets to avoid watering down the effectiveness of his company. “By understanding our personnel and financial abilities, we have chosen to remain exceptional in one territory as opposed to being mediocre in two,” he explains. And being exceptional is no joke. For its size, Clark competes right up there with the best of dealerships when it comes to making the customer happy. Most of that is due to Brown’s never-ending desire to improve and his belief in what is most important to him and his company. Although he may joke at a good portion of what many others take so seriously, he buckles down and studies the key ingredients to success, then he takes it upon himself to teach his employees what he has learned. That ranges from sales and service tactics to the ultra-complex subject of Six Sigma. It’s a philosophy that is built upon his No. 1 belief: “I feel the single most important measure of a business’ success is not found in the ‘hail to the bottom line’; it is contained in the lives of the people that make up that company.” For Brown, that philosophy has delivered to the bottom line and has made Clark the highest-ranking dealer with revenue under $3 million.

Gordy’s Lakefront Marine
Highest-Ranking Dealer With Only One Boat Line

It may come as a surprise that a dealer that does so well at being everything to all people can do so with just one boat line. Gordy’s Lakefront Marine (Ranked 15) accomplishes the task, however, by creating a community among its employees and customers. Located in Lake Geneva, Wis., Gordy’s sells only Cobalt Boats and has done so well with its strategy that it continues to grow at an outrageous clip. By way of an excellent branding campaign and a customer focus that has delivered a 97.4 CSI, the company has built its business and has continued funding its growth. After reviewing each department and “focusing on the unique opportunities each has to capture an experience,” Gordy’s invested more than $1 million in improvements, new initiatives and acquisitions. But “regardless of any growth opportunities we might take on, we believe it is critical that we do not sacrifice what has brought us to our current level of success: a commitment to deliver exceptional products and services in the unique Gordy style.” It’s that well-rounded thinking that makes Gordy’s the highest-ranking dealer with only one boat line.

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