When we told Dan and David Bair, the second-generation owners and operators of Quality Boats of Tampa, they won the Top 100 Dealer of the Year Award for the second year in a row, our most immediate question was how does it feel?
“It feels just as exciting the second time as the first,” said
Enthusiasm is something that always clearly comes across whenever you encounter one of the Bair brothers, whether it’s at the
ELEVATE SUMMIT conference, on the docks, on the phone or even through an e-mail thread.
They have such an enthusiasm – and appreciation – for the boating lifestyle and community, for their customers, for their long-time business adviser, CPA and close family friend Rex Harper, their other internal team members and for the business their dad started by answering a “Marina For Sale” ad in 1973.
“Our story is unique and unlike any of our competition anywhere,” stated Dan, who focuses on the service and administration side, while his brother Dave handles the sales side. “We are the longest tenured family-owned and operated boat dealership in the Tampa Bay area. Our ownership and management work alongside the rest of the team every day. We truly are a hands-on operation. There is no absentee ownership. We are very proud of our history, reputation and longevity.”
The family patriarch, Ted Bair, who passed away in 2004, moved to Florida from the Chicago area with $40,000, a young family and a dream. He did everything from the front end to the back, 364 days a year, taking off only for Christmas.
“His dedication and hard work laid the foundation for all others to follow,” said Dan simply. “He was the ultimate leader and never wavered from his ethics and loyalty and would not accept anything less. His vision of customer service, which was practiced long before it was commercialized and rated, was the basis for our long-standing reputation of the best service, locations, and products.”
Continuing the commitment
The Bair brothers certainly weren’t hoping to repeat as Top 100 Dealer of the Year by reputation alone. In 2019 they completed a long list of changes, additions, and improvements to their business, including growing revenue by 25%.
Here is a partial list:
- Completed remodel of marina office space by adding a new parts office and storage room, added additional offices for service personnel, a second customer waiting area and a “closing office” used for sales negotiations and deliveries distanced from the service offices for privacy.
- Completed remodel of US 19 Showroom reception and guest area, replaced furniture and finishes, created digital wall of flat panel TV’s, added additional sales offices for new sales hires and re-surfaced and painted the showroom floor.
- Added an additional service advisor to act as liaison with Tiara Sport and Tiara Yachts and a service administration assistant to assist with customer calls, warranty claims processing and other office duties.
- Re-organized service advisor roles and duties. Assigned service advisors to customers by product line. This allows the service advisor to be the liaison between the supplier as well as the customer.
- Added three additional service technicians and three additional boat cleaners to assist with the increase of service and sales for the company.
- Added one new sales professional at the Clearwater location and two additional sales professionals at the Sarasota location.
- Purchased two additional forklifts, replaced a forklift, and upgraded delivery and transportation towing ability with new trucks and trailers.
- Added an additional licensed boat captain for deliveries.
- Began work with Lightspeed to upgrade the dealer software system.
- Created a virtual “Quality Times” magazine and newsletter.
- Held a Grand Opening at the new Sarasota location.
- Created and produced additional YouTube walk-thru videos of products that are linked to Facebook and other social media sites.
And as long as we are on the subject of lists, Quality’s list of planned improvements and goals is as impressive as their recent accomplishments.
It includes continuing to be among the Top 10 dealers in sales volume and CSI for their flagship boat lines, continuing to earn and maintain 95%+ cumulative dealer CSI, increasing market share with each boat line by at least 3% each year, continuing to utilize and manage the company’s cash position to minimize the need for debt, being mentally and financially prepared for a future economic downturn, maintaining and increasing current average of 10+ years of tenure with current staff while strategically adding new team members, adding another boat line, or two, and locating and purchasing an existing waterfront marine facility in Sarasota County.
It’s that never-rest-on-your-laurels approach that has led to double-digit percentage growth in 16 of the 26 last years, and helped them break records in 2019 for both revenue and net income.
“We are in the largest boating county in the largest boating state with almost every make and model of boat being offered by dealers within our direct area,” stated Dan in Quality Boats’ 13,000-word Top 100 application. “While we are not a volume dealer of mass-produced boats, we are consistently among the top 10 dealers in worldwide sales for each of our boat product lines by focusing on every sale and creating personal relationships with our customers.”
And that process for Quality Boats begins many times at boat shows.
“Our strategy has evolved over the years from trying to sell as many boats as possible at each show to cultivating relationships with each individual client,” explains Dan. “Boat shows, for us, have changed from a boat sale closing event to an introduction to our dealership event. Aside from web leads, boat shows represent the highest direct lead generation of any other marketing effort we have each year. Our goal is to get prospects back to our showroom so that we can deal with them in a controlled environment and show them why we are better, different, and unique.”
They can also show prospects and customers their pair of Top 100 Dealer of the Year designations, which also earned them a spot in the Boating Industry Top 100 Hall of Fame.
“We have to pinch ourselves sometimes to think about how far we’ve come and the people we get to meet, and what an enjoyable business it is,” says Dave Bair in a company video.
And on behalf of the entire Boating Industry team, congratulations once again to the brothers Bair, and the entire team at Quality Boats of Tampa Bay.
Quality Boats by the numbers:
- Year company was founded: 1974
- Total number of sales, service and/or marina locations: 4
- Total revenue for 2019: $70,234,396
- Percentage increase over 2018: 25%
- Number of new boats sold in 2019: 197
- Number of pre-owned boats sold in 2019: 152
- Number of Sales employees: 15
- Number of Service employees: 16
- Number of Parts & Accessories employees: 2
- Number of Office employees: 10
- Number of Marina employees: 8
- Number of F&I employees: 2
- Number of Storage employees: 4
- Number of Delivery employees: 2
- Boat brands: Grady White, Pursuit, Regal, Sea Pro, Tiara, Crevalle
- Engine brands: Suzuki,Volvo Penta,Yamaha