By Adam Quandt
Family owned and operated for over 43 years and now in its second generation of ownership, Essex, Maryland’s Riverside Marine defines family-owned and focused business. And with that mindset, the dealership and marina has consistently powered to success.
“Riverside is operating a successful profitable business with staying power for a major downturn like it was before the 2008 financial meltdown,” president and co-owner David Baumgartner said. “It was a struggle to get to where we are today. We’ve learned a lot and we are in a better position now than we were then. The family has operated the location for more than 40 years, and we have fun with what we do, selling family fun on the water.”
Originally incorporated in 1974 and purchased in 1976 by Bob and Lavinia Baumgartner, the dealership and marina are now owned by David Baumgartner, Trudy Jefferson and Michael Baumgartner.
Seven family members across the second and third generations now sit on the company’s board of directors, tasked with creating the long-term plans for the business.
“Over the next four to five years, the full-time management of the business will transition over to the third generation,” David Baumgartner said of the company’s goals.
A newcomer to the Top 100 in 2019, Riverside Marine operates a single location after consolidating four locations into one business operation.
“This allowed us to streamline operations, create more efficiency and give the ability to react to customer’s needs and the market much quicker, while continuing to build strong relationships with current clientele,” Baumgartner said.
The dealership and marina operates on just over three acres on the Back River in the Chesapeake Bay area. The property — four miles by water to the bay — features a two-story, 3,000-square-foot shop, another 700-square-foot shop and a 4,200-square-foot showroom with office space.
Riverside is also nearing completion on a project to become a two-story, 5,200-square-foot building to hold office spaces for accounting, a three-bay shop area and space for the service center, parts receiving, marina facilities and employee facilities.
On the marina side, Riverside offers 50 wet slips with 38 boatlifts. The marina’s arsenal also features a 50,000-pound marine travel lift, and both a 10,000- and 15,000-pound marine forklift.
However, waterfront property isn’t just beneficial for the marina side of the business. “Our on-water, easily-accessible location supports customers shopping new or used boats, or those just wanting to quickly pick up a part or come in for service,” Baumgartner said.
The waterfront also allows the dealership an advantage to sales, when customers want to get on the water to try out a boat. Riverside keeps a multitude of boats ready to go at its demo dock, so salespeople can get people on the water as soon as they express interest.
On another front, the financial mindset at Riverside is to always operate with positive cash flow and as low of debt as possible. This includes only floor planning for new boats under a year old, maintaining debt-free property and equipment, with minimal exceptions.
“When Riverside is doing well, it saves money not needed for day-to-day activities and puts it away to help in downturn economy cycles, for future purchase of large assets, or the potential buyout of an owner,” Baumgartner said.
Along with this financial mindset, Riverside follows a strict budgeting procedure in a six-week period where the general manager meets with each department manager to review current-year numbers, complete an analysis of growth points for the coming year and work to make a plan for the future.
On top of a strong financial understanding, the team at Riverside consistently studies its market to adapt to the current trends and habits of the ever-changing consumer.
From keeping track of what local competition is doing, to tracking nation-wide and local trends in what consumers want, Riverside aims to carry exactly what its target market needs to get families out on the water.
The dealership’s efforts resulted in an 8% increase in total revenue for 2018 over the following year and the dealership continues to maintain strong goals for the future.
And they plan to do so as a family.