Vallely Sport Marine has opened its newest superstore in Minot, N.D. The new facility broke ground in the spring of of this year. A Grand Opening Event was held Nov. 15-18.
The new facility is approximately 25,000 square feet and features the area’s largest display of boats, pontoons, personal watercraft, side by sides, ATVs, and motorcycles.
“Customer service was a major focus in designing the new facility”, said Tim Vallely, general manager and co-owner. There are two dedicated service departments, one for marine products, and the other for powersports.
“This will allow us to better serve the communities service needs in all aspects of our business” added Josh Vallely, co-owner. Vallely’s new facility will also be home to the area’s largest parts department and accessory display.
For Tim, a somber reality set in the day after the fire when he visited the post office to pick up the mail.
“After getting back in the car, I looked at the mail sitting there on the seat and thought, “What do I do now? Where do I go to open the mail?’” he recalled. “We had nothing. That’s when things got real for me.”
Josh Vallely was in Bismarck when he learned about the fire. “I got a 3 a.m. phone call,” he said.“It was kind of a surreal moment, because I drove up with my Dad, and for the hour-and-a-half drive, we watched our business burn down live on streaming social media.”
The fire burned for 12 hours; crews finished at the scene around 4 p.m. on a Friday. Through a massive organizational effort, Vallely Sport & Marine opened back up the following Monday.
“We made the decision right then and there that we were going open back up, and come back stronger,” Josh said.
Vallely Sport & Marine operated in a reduced mode until freeze-up in October, Tim recalled. “We had to get inside somewhere, so found an old RV and car dealership that had no showroom but a shop, and we set up a temporary showroom in there. We operated out of that until spring. Then, an old boat and RV dealership three doors down from our new facility opened up.”
Real estate succession planning became crucial part of the post-fire recovery effort, Josh added.
“My Dad, John, had recently retired from the business, and didn’t want to rebuild. Tim and I had made the decision that we did want to rebuild, so we had to do a lot of soul-searching. We had to navigate the buyout of my Dad on the real estate issue, and create a whole new business partnership. Once we agreed on that, we launched into facility planning.”
Vallely Sport & Marine upsized its new Minot building from its former 10,000 square-foot facility to the 25,000 square-foot facility that opened this month.
“The flow in and out of the showroom, the unloading of boats, and our delivery area are all integrated,” Josh said.
Participation in a Spader 20 Group was critical when it came time to thinking about a new building design, Josh said.
“The text, emails and phone calls from this group was incredibly supportive. They offered succession planning and financial advice; and we also had great support from the community and our chamber of commerce.”
Tim and Josh are extremely thankful for their employees. “They stuck with us, and have gone through many emotions, We have a lot of long-term employees, and we were happy to retain most of them,” Tim said.
One of the many lessons Tim and Josh learned going through a fire involved insurance and employee technician tool coverage.
All of the dealership’s technicians were responsible for insuring their personal tools. The management duo found out after the fire that none of the technicians had coverage or the available money to repurchase tools.
One technician had over $120,000 in tools destroyed. Tim and Josh made a long-term decision to extend some insurance to help them out.
“The technician shortage is a major problem in our industry and if we wouldn’t have done that we would have lost over three good technicians,” Tim said. “Hopefully, this will pay dividends in the long run.”