Crystal-Pierz closings ‘reflect loyalty to mission, customers’

CRYSTAL, Minn. – Crystal-Pierz Marine, who has called this suburb of Minneapolis its home for more than 50 years, has closed its headquarters’ doors and moved its operations to its Rogers, Minn., location.

The decision to close this location has been followed by the closing of the dealers’ Hastings, Minn., location at the end of April and the scheduled closure of its Albert Lea location at the end of this month. The company’s headquarters will now be located at the Rogers “superstore” location, which opened nearly two years ago.

In attempts to tackle a tough economy, recently named Crystal-Pierz Marine President and COO Luke Kujawa says the moves are made in an attempt to strengthen the company’s focus on its loyalty to its mission.

“We’re simply concentrating on our top-performing stores to assure we maintain the competitive prices and exceptional customer service Crystal-Pierz Marine is known for,” says Kujawa. “With most recreational industries showing a significant slow down, we recognize the need to adapt to maintain our mission.

“We’re making the changes necessary to assure our brand promise stays consistent and true to our customers, manufacturers and everyone we do business with.”

The company reports that its May earnings to date are steady and increasing, and that its recently opened Duluth, Minn., location is performing well. The dealer has also countered lagging sales with a “0-0-0” promotion, where customers can purchase boats with zero money down, zero payments and zero interest until 2008.

Albert Lea closure
The closure of Crystal-Pierz’s Albert Lea store will reduce the company’s total locations to nine, after that number peaked at 13 in 2005. It also closed a Forest Lake, Minn., location two years ago.

The company, after many years of aggressive growth and even being cited as one of the Twin Cities’ fastest-growing businesses as recently as October 2004, has seen a slowdown in its growth. In addition to a tough economy, the company also faced such hurdles as the sale of its leading aluminum boat brands to Brunswick, the climbing costs of aluminum that trickle down to customers, and finally, changes to Brunswick’s aluminum boat distribution strategy, which left the dealer with one of the two brands it carried prior to this year.

The company tried some unique initiatives to counter these hurdles, such as, among other things, turning its Crystal location into a used boat superstore and partnering with Gander Mountain to sell boats from the retailer’s Forest Lake location. Additionally, the Hastings store, which was opened in the building of a former boat dealer, was one of the dealer’s three locations that has opened since the beginning of 2005. In each case, there were challenges the company faced.

The closing of the Albert Lea store is particularly bittersweet for Crystal-Pierz Marine, the company says, and the many community partners it has befriended as a result of its popular Lake Cleanup initiative. The dealer says the store there was recognized for playing a pivotal role in securing a $112,300 grant from the state of Minnesota to examine the health of lakes in the Shell Rock River Watershed District of Albert Lea.

“We’re committed to maintaining our mission of having the happiest customers in the industry,” explains Kujawa. “Keeping slim margins and high store volume affords us this opportunity. Unfortunately, the economics of the Albert Lea location began to jeopardize our ability to do so.”

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