2014 Best in Class: Best Events

2014 Best Events:

Russell Marine

Alexander City, Ala.


Russel-IMG_0979 (2)Russell Lands on Lake Martin, the parent company of Russell Marine, has a saying: “There is always something happening at Russell Lands on Lake Martin.” The dealership couldn’t be a more perfect embodiment of this sentiment, thanks to the events it hosts and sponsors.

Russell Marine’s greatest event success in 2013 came from the inaugural Riverfront WakeBattle, a wakeboard tournament held in partnership with the city of Montgomery to complement the Spring2Summer Wakeboard Tournament, of which Russell Marine is the headline sponsor every year.


Dozens of participants from the southeast U.S. competed for over $10,000 in prizes. The event was a huge success for the dealership and gained national attention: Nautique awarded the Riverfront WakeBattle the “Event of the Year.”

“This event allowed us to reach audiences that may have not otherwise been exposed to the Russell Marine brand. Outside of the traditional means of advertising we are able to draw attention to these events with feather flags, tents and great giveaways such as customized t-shirts, koozies, bags and other Russell Marine paraphernalia,” said Dave Commander, president of Russell Marine.

Russel-CBThe dealership also hosts a number of wakeboarding and wakesurfing clinics, which have drawn over 400 students in the past three years, as well as slalom skiing clinics and competitions. During the last weekend of April, Russell Marine hosts the largest inland in-water boat show in the U.S. with over 50 boats and eight Sea-Doo watercraft on the water for demos and 50 boats and 25 Sea-Doo PWC on display.

Another of Russell Marine’s successes is Russell Forest Run, which the dealership hosted in 2013. Over 400 runners participated and Russell Marine raised over $20,000, which was donated to the local school system.

Customers are a huge focus for Russell Marine. Their repeat business is valuable and as a result they are given preference at any event. For the Birmingham boat show, the dealership provides tickets to its best customers and hosts a VIP reception at the show. Last year over 200 customers were in attendance.

Targeted sponsorship has been a continued success point for Russell Marine. The Fourth of July Boat Parade, one of the largest events on Lake Martin each year and a “must see” according to Alabama Tourism, is sponsored by the dealership. The event kicks off at its Kowaliga Marina, with roughly 40 to 50 boats in participation and another 300 to 400 more on the lake as spectators. Russell Marine awards prizes to participants such as “tallest flag waved” and “most patriotic boat.”

Russel-July4_7099_20120704“Russell Marine has found great success in marketing via road shows, boat shows and sponsored events,” said Commander. “Throughout all of our advertising the theme has been consistent with the tag line ‘making waves since 1959’ and ‘making memories with Russell Marine.’”

2013 also marked the 10th anniversary of the Lions Lake Martin Charity Poker Run, which is sponsored by Russell Marine. The dealership was able to donate over $20,000 to various Lake Martin charities with the profits generated at the event and Commander called the event “bigger and better than ever.”

These events give Russell Marine an opportunity to conduct consumer research. The dealership surveys consumers at boat shows and features a giveaway at every event they host, which requires customers to register for a drawing. The customers provide their information and are asked how they learned about the event.

But ultimately, it’s all about living a boating culture and providing the opportunity for its customers to get involved, which continues to set Russell Marine apart.

“We strive to go ‘above and beyond’ our competition to help our customers embrace the boating lifestyle and create memorable experiences,” said Commander.


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