Last month, Hagadone Marine Group in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, began construction on its new mega marine center. The construction includes three new buildings and the creation of over 32,000 square feet of service center space, investing major capital in enhancements.
Two of the three buildings will be 16,000 square feet and will house fiberglass repair, rigging, detail and the parts department, which HMG is bringing closer to the service center for technician convenience. The third building will be a 3,000-square-foot wash bay with overhead sprayers and a crane that will allow HMG to unload boats of up to 40,000 lbs into the bay.
“From the environmental standpoint, this whole facility will be top-of-the-line,” said HMG General Manager Craig Brosenne. “The environmental impact is changing so rapidly and so quickly, you’ve got to keep up with it, and this facility is going to have all those safety features.”
The center will have up to 20 “roll-up door” service bays, providing space for up to 40 technicians. The marine center currently offers more than 1,100 wet slips available in the area. HMG also purchased The Resort Boat Shop, a local service center, that will be consolidated into HMG’s new facilities along with Coeur Custom Wood Boats. Both businesses are currently located in Post Falls, Idaho and will be relocated to the marine center campus.
Construction is expected to be finished in June; while the projected completion date was originally April, some unseasonably large snow has temporarily paused construction. The all-steel buildings are finished and ready to ship from Boise, Idaho to HMG, and most components have been ordered so they can be fed into the facility when the weather lets up.
“If you can deliver the budget that a customer agreed to in the repair or their service, if you can deliver the boat clean and on a timely schedule, you’ve won with them. And those three are probably the top goals that are going to impact our customers,” said Brosenne. “Having that capacity to make this a destination [is huge]. We have people drive 4 or 5 hours away. They drop their boat off, get their fall service, leave their boat and they pick it up in the spring. [They come from] as far away as Montana [and] Southern Idaho, so it’s going to be able to enhance that broad area that you typically wouldn’t get in some dealerships.”
Brosenne has been working with owner Duane Hagadone to plan large facility improvements for the business. In 2015, HMG underwent a similar transformation in the sales sides of the business with an equal capital investment.
HMG’s vision for the marine center is based on the car dealership model, where service is a huge focus and technicians have a steady workflow.
“I feel the boat business has always been ‘service is second to sales,’” said Brosenne. “I want to get to that Toyota mentality where you don’t have to tell somebody in this industry that they’ve got to wait for their boat for two weeks to get it worked on. And having a size of a center that we have, with the wet slips and the storage boats, I could afford to keep these guys busy through the whole entire year, almost like the car industry.”
Brosenne envisions the shop could be used for doing detail work on cars or RVs in addition to its boat work, to help keep technicians working throughout the off season, which he believes is a huge barrier for the marine industry in attracting and keeping good employees.
“A lot of guys get laid off and they don’t like that. We kind of box them into a corner and it’s not a career. We only keep the ‘good ones’ and we have summer help,” he said. Additionally, Brosenne thinks the hectic boat dealership service setting is one that does not attract long-term hires. “My goal is to never have a technician leave his stall, ever, moving forward. I want the boats being brought to them. I want the yard help to be sophisticated when the boats are coming in from our storage to our service writers.”
HMG bought a tire machine as part of the new facility once leadership discovered one technician had worked at a tire center. The dealership sent out flyers for a special on repairing trailer tires, which will help create $50,000 of work for this technician over the winter.
“You’ve got to think out of the box to keep these guys busy and employed, or else there’s such high demands out there for them they just go elsewhere,” said Brosenne.
Once HMG has completed the facilities, checked all the boxes and ensured everything is running properly and looks presentable, the company will hold a grand opening, likely around August. Brosenne sees the new service center having a bigger impact on 2018.
“The new facility will be one of the finest in North America. Duane Hagadone’s vision of the lake and waterfront businesses will leave a lasting impact on the community for years to come,” said Brosenne.