MINNEAPOLIS – As the economy begins to show signs of recovery, the marine industry’s future relies on consumers’ ability to find dependable dealers that exceed their sales and service expectations. These consumers now have a trusted source they can turn to, thanks to Boating Industry magazine’s fifth-annual Top 100 Dealers program.
This marine dealer ranking has resulted in an incredibly powerful group that collectively generates more than $1.4 billion in annual retail sales. The U.S. boat industry at large has fallen more than 30 percent annually for the past few years, yet the Top 100 Dealers are off an average of just 11 percent.
While the numbers this elite group posts are impressive, indeed, the Top 100 is not merely a ranking of the largest, volume-driven dealers. Rather, it recognizes those marine dealers that are unsurpassed in overall business operations, customer service, marketing and professionalism. Collectively, the 2009 Boating Industry Top 100 employ nearly 4,247 people and operate 269 retail locations across North America.
“While most industry awards are given to those dealers that sell the most boats, our Top 100 program is much more qualitatively focused,” said Matt Gruhn, Editor-in-Chief of Boating Industry, “thereby leveling the playing field for all dealers and directing consumers to those dealers that can best deliver on the dream that boat ownership promises.”
Topping the list at No. 1 for the first time is Austin, Texas-based The Sail & Ski Centers, followed by Anna Maria, Fla.-based Galati Yacht Sales; Seattle Boat Co., based in Seattle, Wash.; Prince William Marine Sales, Inc., based in Woodbridge, Va.; and Buckeye Marine, based in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. More than 350 people joined Boating Industry to honor the Top 100 Dealers at a black-tie celebration Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando.
Boating Industry’s editorial team reviewed 243 applications, culled from more than 3,000 nominations. The applications asked both quantitative and qualitative questions regarding all aspects of marine dealer operations.
“For the past five years, the Boating Industry Top 100 has stood as the pinnacle of excellence for marine dealers,” explained Tammy Galvin, Vice President of Affinity Media. “And now, in today’s economic climate, the already coveted award is that much more so as dealers continue to face unprecedented turbulent times in the marine industry. As a direct result of this program, myriad best practices are being adopted throughout the industry, not only by those dealers who are out there aggressively capturing marketshare, but also those who are simply trying to weather the storm.”
Boating Industry bestowed five additional Best In Class awards to dealers ranked at the top of their categories. Galati Yacht Sales (ranked 2), is the highest ranking dealer with seven or more stores. Seattle Boat Co. (ranked 3), is the highest-ranking dealer with three or four stores. Prince William Marine Sales, Inc. (ranked 4), is the highest-ranking dealer with one or two stores. Woodard Marine Inc. (ranked 9), based in Hydeville, Vt., is the highest-ranking dealer with revenue less than $4 million. Liquid Sports Marine (ranked 30), based in Orlando, was noted as the Most Improved Top 100 Dealer.
To help bring the Boating Industry Top 100 to life, Affinity Media, the magazine’s parent company, created the Leadership Alliance, an elite group of the marine industry’s leading suppliers. These companies were invited to participate because they possess, as one of their corporate values, a true belief in and commitment to raising the bar of professionalism across all marine industry sectors, and particularly for dealers.
The 2009 Leadership Alliance members include: Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., GE Capital Solutions, BoatTrader, Volvo Penta, ADP Lightspeed, Manheim Specialty Auctions, Global Marine Insurance Agency and the Marine Retailers Association of America.
Meet the 2009 Leadership Alliance:
Boating Industry magazine, an 81-year-old business-to-business publication owned by Affinity Media, a subsidiary of Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity Group Inc., is the most authoritative and widely respected magazine serving the marine industry. Visit www.boatingindustry.com to learn more about the Top 100 and view past years’ winners.
For 100 years, the Evinrude name has been synonymous with boating innovation. Buying an Evinrude means buying a trusted brand name that delivers everything consumers want in an outboard engine. Today’s Evinrude E-TEC engines, manufactured by Bombardier Recreational Products, Sturtevant, Wis., deliver an unmatched boating experience, with more power, better fuel efficiency and less maintenance than any other engine. All this means more of what boaters want most: spending more time on the water to create lasting memories. Visit www.evinrude.com
GE Capital Solutions, Hoffman Estates, Ill., as a recognized leader in the marine industry for more than 30 years, supports its customers with knowledgeable staff, focused on providing outstanding service and information. Its Commercial Distribution Finance unit creates customized financing programs to help its marine manufacturer and dealer customers execute their business plans. Its array of financing programs and services include inventory finance and seasonal credit lines, pre-owned & pre-sold programs, and business planning tools. For more information about CDF, call 888/873-8232 or visit www.ge.com/cdf
Boat Trader is the buying and selling resource for boaters and dealers in print and online, attracting 22.5 million visitors to its Web site and offering more than 400,000 magazines in 2008 alone. Headquartered in Norfolk, Va., BoatTrader.com provides inventory listings to nearly 3,200 watercraft dealers, generating more than 1 million leads each year. With more than 125,000 new and used listings, Boat Trader is the consumer resource for their next boat purchase. For more information, visit: www.BoatTrader.com
Volvo Penta, Chesapeake, Va., has become the fastest growing marine engine company in the world by constantly developing innovative new products and services. The company, founded in 1907, introduced its first outboard engine in 1922, the first in-line 6-cylinder diesel in 1946, the first sterndrive in 1959, the first duo-prop in 1982 and Electronic Diesel Control in 1995. Then, in 2005, Volvo Penta changed the face of marine propulsion forever with the Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS), followed by the Volvo Penta IPS Joystick. Today, more than 10,000 units have been produced and shipped to more than 100 independent boat builders worldwide. Visit www.volvopenta.com
The ADP Lightspeed management system gives marine dealers the innovative tools they need to help increase lasting profitability across service, parts, sales, F&I, rental and storage. As part of ADP, Inc.’s Dealer Services division, which provides computing solutions to more than 20,000 dealers, LightspeedMarine understand the unique challenges that dealers face every day. With completely integrated departments, user-friendly interfaces and stable infrastructure, LightspeedMarine makes dealers’ jobs easier by allowing them to focus on their business. For more information, call 800/521-0309 or visit www.adplightspeed.com
Manheim Specialty Auctions, a division of 60-plus-year-old auction provider Manheim, offers auctions with sales dedicated to boats, RVs, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and powersport vehicles at 14 locations in North America. Benefits for dealers who participate in the auction process include a critical mass of buyers and sellers, credible pricing, market liquidity, affordable participation and technology applications. Customers can take advantage of on-site and online bidding using a variety of technologies such as Manheim Simulcast, which