Florida dealer goes on acquisition spree

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Passport Marine, Inc. has acquired Aventura-based Hi-Lift Dealerships, LLC and Hi-Lift Marina, LLP, it reported in a recent statement.

The company is consolidating those businesses with St. Pete-based Passport Marine of Tampa Bay, LLC and www.BUYFORMULA.com, operating as Passport Direct, LLC. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Each of these companies had Formula Boats and Passport president and CEO Jim Dillon in common, according to Passport.

“Going forward,” Dillon said, “we will offer Formula Boat Sales and Service in major markets throughout the country, under one brand: Passport Marine, Inc. (PMI). As one company, PMI will take advantage of a unified marketing opportunity, back office economies of scale, and access to a larger variety of ready stock units to better serve our customers.”

PMI currently has the infrastructure in place to offer boaters sales, service, storage, insurance, instruction and recreational activities throughout the Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay/Sarasota regions, and said it’s executing an aggressive growth plan.

“Passport Marine is fast becoming a leading national boating retail outlet through strategic acquisitions in existing markets, and by green fielding in ‘open’ Formula territories,” Dillion added. These include new opportunities in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New York and Connecticut.

The launch of the Passport Marine brand represents the culmination of decades of work for Dillon, who began his thirty-year career in the industry building and restoring classic wooden boats in Greenwood Lake, N.Y., according to the company. However, Dillon feels the company’s greatest asset lies are its highly motivated team.

“We firmly believe customer satisfaction is a function of employee satisfaction. We’ve created an “employee-owned” business ownership paradigm – every team member will be a stock holder, and thus have an opportunity to share in our success.” Dillon explained. “The PMI business model delivers the personal service of your friendly neighborhood marina combined with the power of a national brand. Our employee-owned paradigm delivers customers the same level of personal attention they would derive from smaller dealerships, while financially benefiting from doing business with a company that operates on a much larger scale.”

This employee/consumer-centric approach helped Dillon and co-founder and partner Andrew Sturner (former CBS Sportsline.com and Moviefone founder and executive) transform a struggling Formula Boat dealership at Hi-Lift in Aventura, Fla. into a top performing dealer in just two and a half years, the company said, and have helped lead to record sales growth in the region for all of the Formula Boat lines.

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