The making of SMG’s “A-Team”

Three months ago, Boating Industry created a cover story package that focused on creating an “A-Team” of employees. While Singleton Marine Group launched a series of key initiatives that helped create the success its had over the last year and a half, little if any of it would have been possible without the company piecing together the best team of marine professionals it could find.

Over the course of the last 18 months, Austin Singleton’s company has added a number of top-performing players in key roles to an already impressive team of contributors. It began when Singleton and Anthony Aisquith decided to join forces in December of 2008, and that was followed by the addition of at least 10 new team members through May of 2010, the last of whom was Bryan Potzner, formerly a principal at Atlanta Inboard.

“One very big lesson I learned from working at MarineMax was hiring the right people,” says Aisquith, who engineered many of the moves. “We don’t falter from that. We hire once. Everyone we’ve hired, not one of them has applied for a job here. We’ve gone after and selected our team by hiring the right person for the right position, and that has been paramount to our success.”

With key players such as Billy Smith, Matt Clark and David Tidwell already in place, Singleton Marine Group went after the best new talent it could find. Those additions have fit in and played key roles in the success of the company. They realize the strategic direction and they do their part to contribute to the success.

“I think what I believed in, ultimately, was Anthony,” explains Darren Matthews who was brought onto the team in March 2009. “My decision came after he explained to me what the group was all about. This group was assembling the human capital in a place where I had a new home and a family change, and they needed to get into the big boat business for the first time ever.

“I am so fortunate to have landed firmly on my feet doing what I love and playing an important part in growing this business.”

Longtime Staff Members:

Billy Smith. Smith started with Singleton 12 years ago as a new boat rigger and has worked his way up to store manager at Keowee North Marine. In between, he served as a technician, service manager at Blue Creek Marina, and in sales before Keowee North opened in April 2006.
Matt Clark. Clark was hired as a delivery captain, moved in an assistant service manager position after a few months and became service manager at Blue Creek Marina in December 2007. In August he will have been with the company for five years.

David Tidwell. Tidwell began working for the Singletons in January 2003 as a salesperson at Blue Creek Marina. In April 2004, he took over as service manager at Blue Creek. He continued in that role until January 2008, when he moved to Cobalt Boats of Atlanta as store manager. He held that position in 2008 and 2009, also managing the service department during 2009. In January 2010, Tidwell took on the responsibility of operations manager for Singleton Marine Group.

New additions:

Anthony Aisquith. Aisquith joined the Singleton Marine Group team as a managing partner when he bought into the ownership of the company in December of 2008. Since his arrival, he has engineered a number of key personnel additions in addition to a number of strategic moves that have delivered significant profitability in a horrific market.

Scott Cunningham. Cunningham also bought into the ownership of the company. His experience selling large boats and brokerage boats on Lake Lanier is just helping the company go to the next level, Aisquith says.

Darren Matthews. Matthews was president of JOA Marine, located on Holiday Road, when the company declared bankruptcy. Singleton Marine Group recognized his talent and specialty in selling big boats and went after him. “He’s an A player as a big boat sales specialist,” Aisquith says.

Bryan Potzner. Potzner was principal at Atlanta Inboard when Singleton Marine Group acquired the company. He was retained as a brand champion for the company’s inboard ski boats, and he has taken the lead in its newly launched Wet Wednesday wakeboarding events on Lake Lanier.

Jason Walker. Walker joined Singleton Marine Group having worked in manufacturing in the factory at Malibu Boats. “He’s a diamond in the rough,” Aisquith explains. “He does it all,” explaining that he built a bulkhead on one boat and did a complete fiberglass overhaul of another.

Monty Farrell. A retired member of the navy special forces, Farrell was originally asked to help Singleton Marine Group set up at the local boat show. He not only followed through on that request, but then he sold three boats at the show as well. After expressing an interest in working for the company, Singleton hired him as the company’s yard manager at Singleton Marine Group Yacht Center at Holiday Marina.

Ken Johnson. Johnson was a service manager at MarineMax, but Aisquith and Cunningham identified that his best fit was as a parts guy. He was hired as the parts manager at the Holiday Marina location. When JOA Marine, which occupied this location moved out, they didn’t leave a single part on the shelves. How do you decide where to start filling those shelves? “You hire the right people,” Cunningham says. “And Ken was that guy.”

David Palmero. Aisquith and Palmero worked together at MarineMax’s Wrightsville Beach location, and although their paths took different directions, Aisquith recruited him after he landed at Singleton Marine Group. “We needed the best big boat service manager we could find,” Aisquith says, “and that’s what we have with David.”

Lamar Shaw. Shaw left Cobalt Boats of Atlanta to move away for family reasons. When he decided to move back to the area, Singleton Marine Group brought him back on immediately upon his return.

David Gareau. When MarineMax closed its local Forrest Park location, it left behind a service manager who was also a Master Certified Technician, one of the most highly trained techs the industry can create. That tech was Gareau, and Singleton Marine Group scooped him up and added him to the team.

Scott Cunningham, Jr. Cunningham, Jr. is a recent graduate of Emory Riddle Aviation School. He grew up in the boat business, setting up and selling at boat shows with his father and Aisquith. “He was born with the same work ethic as his father,” Aisquith says, “and he was born to be in the boating business.”

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