The Liquid Runway

Dealers that work to get prospective customers out on the water will tell you that there’s no better way to get someone excited about owning a boat. But Gage Marine (Ranked 53) in Williams Bay, Wis., has taken this practice to a new level with an event it began last fall that it describes as “part fashion show, part air show, part boat demos and just a relaxed party from a bygone era.”

Gage uses its unique resources to full advantage by hosting a special invitation party aboard the 87-foot, 100-year-old-plus Gage Family steamboat “Matriark,” which is one of eight excursion boats the dealership operates.

Customers board the steamboat for a voyage out on the lake and once the vessel leaves the marina staff members make high-speed runs by it, demonstrating exciting maneuvers in all of the new models the dealership wants to highlight. An emcee narrates as the boats go by, detailing the various characteristics of each.

The steamboat then anchors and the smaller boats pull alongside where they’re available to be tested by anyone who would like to go out. The show is held around the time that the new model year boats are coming out and serves as a way to introduce those new models. It also builds excitement during a typically slow time of the year for boat sales.

“This event was extremely well received and provided great interest at a time when boat sales are historically extremely slow,” says President Bill Gage. “It is a cross between the Blue Angels flying over a stadium and seeing Cindy Crawford saunter down the runway at Paris Fashion Week.”

What’s not to like?

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