2015 Best in Class: Best Industry Advocate

The Sail & Ski Center
Austin, Texas

Full page photoThe Sail & Ski Center has been a leader in the marine industry for years, and nowhere is that more self-evident than in its efforts to improve boating across the country and at home.

The Sail & Ski Center is a member of several local boating trades associations, and the Sail & Ski team has held multiple leadership positions in those communities. Outside of the industry, The Sail & Ski Center works closely with the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce, with vice president Buzz Watkins currently serving on the Board of Directors.

Recently, the dealership has taken a leadership position in the Friends of the Central Texas Water Coalition, the fundraising arm of the Central Texas Water Coalition (CTWC). The CTWC is a water conservation and water resources management advocacy group made up of stakeholders from municipalities, homeowners and businesses from the central Texas area.

“As early as 2010 we realized that continuation of the persistent Texas drought and the softness in demand from the aspirational boater would change what our new boat portfolio structure should be in the future,” said Sail & Ski president Rod Malone. “The continuing drought was affecting the aesthetic atmosphere for boating to the point that cruising and overnighting activities were being curtailed. … As a result most ramps would continue to be closed making access to the water by trailer boaters at best very difficult.”

Watkins was elected as vice president of the FCTWC. Recent fundraisers for the CTWC include owner’s club parties, a demo center and an event at the Cranes Mill Marina.

The dealership’s involvement in the CTWC positions the company as a strong leader and advocate for not only boating, which serves its business interests, but for the community as a whole. The dealership has an acute understanding that what happens in the community affects the business, and the reverse allows the dealership to have a positive impact on the community in which it lives.

“What sets Sail & Ski apart from its competition is our relentless pursuit of excellence in every piece and part of our business,” said Malone. “We are smarter and we work harder than our competition and that combination is hard to beat.”

The dealership also participates in dealer councils and 20 groups and several marine industry associations, where the company shares its best practices. One of the most significant groups in which The Sail & Ski Center is involved is the Sea Ray Performance Group, of which the dealership has been a member since the group’s inception. The group is primarily made of multi-location Sea Ray dealerships.

“The meetings are generally attended by dealership principals and corporate controllers and tend to focus on consolidated operations and issues. The meetings include rotating site visits to member’s facilities during which the combined experience of each of the dealers can result in a valuable critique of the dealership operations, processes as well as facilities,” said Malone. “Each meeting will generally have a specific theme such as Sales, Service or F&I and the respective department managers from the member dealerships are invited to also attend those meetings. “

Malone has served in a variety of leadership roles as a member of the various dealer groups in which The Sail & Ski Center has participated throughout the years, as have other members of the staff, with roles ranging from board member to president of the association. Malone was a multi-term member of the board of directors of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, last serving in 2013 as a board member and a member of the executive committee. The dealership is also a Retail Premium Member of MRAA.

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