By Tim Hennagir
Increasing market share through continued expansion remains a long-term goal for Russell Marine.
The Top 100 dealership services all of Alabama, West Georgia and the panhandle of Florida with a primary focus on Central Alabama around Lake Martin.
Russell Marine achieved a No. 3 ranking on Boating Industry’s 2018 Top 100 and received a Best in Class award for Best Marketing.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Russell Marine has four full-service marinas and one pre-owned boat center with strategic waterfront locations on Lake Martin.
The dealership also has a location in North Central Alabama off of I-65 close to Smith Lake.
Two constant taglines can be found throughout all of Russell Marine’s advertising: “Making waves since 1959,” and “Making memories with Russell Marine.”
Earlier this year, the award-winning dealership, which operates as a division of Russell Lands, Inc., announced its plans for a new location on U.S. Highway 280 in Alexander City, Ala.
The new facility will be located in a building most recently occupied by the Russell Corp., an apparel manufacturing company. Russell Marine purchased the property and plans to significantly renovate, upgrade and transform the facility.
The new marine showroom, boat storage and rigging business is scheduled to open next spring.
Russell Lands President and CEO Tom Lamberth said the new facility represents a multi-million dollar investment in the community by the city and county. “It’s going to be a first-class destination facility,” Lamberth added.
The renovated 150,000-square-foot multi-level building will house new and pre-owned boats, a rigging facility, marine service center, marine store and design center, and lake lifestyle showroom with pro shop gear, lake apparel, wakeboards, paddleboards, skis, canoes, kayaks and more.
“We are excited about creating a place for guests to experience and shop for lake lifestyle gear, top-of-the-line watercraft and recreational accessories, “ said Russell Marine President Dave Commander. “We cross-market with other divisions of Russell Lands. This includes our Willow Point Golf & Country Club where we can offer golf outings or parties at the Willow Point beach, cabana and pool.”
Since 2010, Russell’s Marine’s accessory revenue has more than doubled. “Every year, we like to change the look and feel of our pro shops,” Commander said. “We have created a destination for our customers that’s fun. We try to create an atmosphere that will provide a great experience for all of our customers.”
Over the past several years, Russell Marine’s marketing efforts have paid off in steadily increased website traffic.
In 2017, Russell Marine contracted with Spectrum to assist in geo-fencing its marinas, serving up digital ads to the appropriate demographics and purchasing key words to enhance the dealership’s SEO.
“When we look at what sets Russell Marine apart from its competition, we have to start with our parent company, Russell Lands, and the place, Russell Lands On Lake Martin, as well as our vision and mission statements,” Commander explained.
That multi-part vision statement is simple, yet clear: Russell Lands On Lake Martin will become the destination for those who want to experience and create memories of a simpler time in a fun and relaxing community that is respectful to the land.
“We have five state-of–the-art service centers with certified technicians at each location,” Commander said. “All of our marinas have their own technicians and equipment to fully service all of our brands. Two of our marinas have ‘clean rooms’ where we can completely rebuild engines or outdrives.” Russell Marine is a Yamaha Five Star dealer.
The dealership has the largest inventory of marine parts in Alabama, Commander said. “Our parts sales have increased every year for the past 15 years,” he added.
Russell Marine has the largest forklifts on Lake Martin, and can handle the largest boats with ease.
“Two years ago, we purchased another forklift with a 60-foot mast,” Commander said. “We added additional forklifts at our Ridge and River North locations, and we have a state-of-the-art rigging facility and water test every new boat.”
All of the company’s marinas offer valet boating. No other marina on Lake Martin offers this, Commander said. When a customer stores their boat with Russell Marine, this service allows a customer to call an hour before they want their boat.
“We have it ready on our courtesy dock for them with gas in the boat and ice in the cooler,” Commander added.