$hare the $uccess

At Hampton Watercraft & Marine Inc. (Ranked 13 in 2006), the key employees who have stuck by the owner throughout the company’s history have been given a share in the company.

Following an early passion for boating, Tony Villareale launched a yacht washing service in junior high school. This one-man operation blossomed into what is now a multi-million-dollar dealership boasting more than 40 employees.

But it’s not how big Hampton Watercraft & Marine Inc. has grown that makes Villareale’s story so compelling– it’s how good it has become.

In an industry in which the biggest player is more than a thousand times larger than the smallest one, the little guy can suffer in comparison. But not Tony. From the beginning, he has aimed high.

After graduating from college, he went back to his marine business full-time. When buying parts for a repair job, he overheard that the local Yamaha personal watercraft dealer had dropped the line, creating an opening in the market. Villareale — who was still living at home — created a business plan that blew away Yamaha executives, convincing them to choose him over other established businesses in the area. Then, he overdelivered on it.

That was in 1990. Today, Villareale owns a $13-million, two-location boat dealership in conjunction with his brother and the handful of key employees who serve as partners. Those partnerships were Villareale’s way of rewarding and retaining his business’ top employees, something he says is the most significant factor in a company’s growth.

Similarly, employees at San Diego Sundance Marine (Ranked 36 in 2005) share in the company’s success. Service techs get a salary plus a percentage of total revenue, and a stock ownership plan is in place for key personnel.

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