By David Gee
Short’s Sales & Service opened four years after World War II in 1949. Located in a one-stall garage in Oak Orchard, Delaware, it quickly became established as the “go-to shop” for everything marine-related.
Today, four generations and over 70 years later, Short’s Marine, Inc. continues to operate with the same mantra of being the go-to spot for area boaters. Though with five different campuses, including a large showroom/sales facility, an administration building next door, a parts and service center across the street, a custom canvas and in-water demo facility on the Indian River, as well as multiple dry storage locations, they long ago outgrew the one-stall garage to become the largest boat dealership on the DelMarVa Peninsula.
Don Short is proud of the reputation they have earned over the years, including being named a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer in the program’s very first year of existence, 17 years ago, and every subsequent year since. Short’s Marine was also represented at the very first Top 100 black tie gala celebration, as well as the most recent one in Atlanta.
“It is an accomplishment that we are very proud of because it takes everybody in our company to make it happen each year,” stated Don in his top 100 application.
Short’s Marine is open 363 days a year, and typically keeps 300 boats and PWC’s for sale and on display, representing more than a dozen brands. Of course, we all know inventory levels are anything but typical these days, so let’s just call that number slightly lower for the moment.
Short said they have done a lot to change and improve their business since the pandemic began, and took a critical look at their product lines, profitability, processes, and staff. They also tackled overdue facility improvements such as new signage, new pavement, improved parking, and other updates to make Short’s Marine feel new again.
“Our goals remain the same though,” continued Short. “Sell more boats and continue to provide all of the services and products that any of our customers would ever need. We are very fortunate that our management team has over 180 years combined experience. It enables us to make quick, educated decisions, and our consistent management style helps us understand the trends in the market, recognize growth opportunities, and allows us to make some tough decisions a lot easier.”
Just for fun I looked up Don Short’s LinkedIn profile right before I began writing this piece. The “Experience” section of his profile was pretty brief. President – Short’s Marine Inc., 1973 – Present – 48 years.
“Over 70 years in the marine industry is a long time,” he said in what could be called a very big understatement. “As a family-owned and operated business, soon to be on our 5th generation, we are very different from any of the other marine businesses around us. Short’s Marine was founded on integrity, and it is still operated with the same integrity. We conduct business in an ‘old school’ way that it is hard to replicate. We still treat others as we want to be treated.”
Short says that even though they have many employees who have been with them for more than 30 years, they still embrace new tools and technology, and are constantly in search of how to improve – and be able to do more. And that includes giving back to their local community.
I will close this Editor’s Choice with the closing paragraph of Don Short’s Top 100 application:
“All of us at Short’s Marine are always focused on who we are and why customers seek us. It’s how our company continues to grow bigger and stronger every year. Thank you for the opportunity to apply for the Top 100. We hope to continue our streak of being chosen!”