A future at the family dealership wasn’t always the plan for this fourth-generation owner. Jason Clemons, of Clemons Boats, used to profess to everyone that he wanted nothing to do with the dealership. Now, Jason is offering not only the care and reliability his customers have come to expect, but he's also taking Clemons Boats to new heights. We had a chance to ask Jason a few questions about the family business and how he is continues to create success for the dealership.
Q: You’re a fourth-generation owner. At what point did you know that you wanted the boat business to be your future?
Clemons: I don’t think I will have the response you expect here! I think I had the entrepreneurial spirit when I was young, but I also had a very strong sense of “Wanting to do something without help”. I loved trading football cards at an early age and used to sell my toys at school when I was a kid (Sorry Mom), so I always liked to sell and the thought of exchanging things of value for money always intrigued me. However, I actually used to profess to everyone that I wanted nothing to do with Clemons Boats, and that I would NEVER work there! This came from a strong will and a need to not want a hand out or help from anyone to accomplish what I wanted in life. I actually went to college to be a wildlife manager and only came to the business on a bribe from my dad. One day he told me what he thought I could make selling boats, and told me he thought I would be “good” at it. I was reluctant but desperate at the time and the bribe worked! The rest, as they say, is HISTORY! Once I got into sales and really grasped the family legacy we have with the business, a very strong sense of pride took over and there was no turning back. I would say somewhere in my mid 20’s is when the “lightbulb” went off. I now feel a strong sense of pride, and the success of the business and service to our customers is my duty, obligation, and responsibility.
Q: What are your fondest memories from growing up in the boat business?
Clemons: Most of my memories are revolved around fishing, as that was and still is a passion of mine. Obviously a perk of owning a boat dealership is access to boats and my childhood was full of boating. I used to go fishing with my father and his friends every Thursday when I was young, and it gave me a love for the water and fishing very early in life. By the time I was 5 I was allowed to run and dock the boat and enjoyed it very much. Shortly after that, Dad took in a trade and gave it to me to use on my own and myself and my friends spent countless summer days on the water in front of the dealership catching catfish and then coming in to run up dads account at Terrys Tavern! I have worked on and off at the dealership from a young age stacking blocks, mowing grass, moving trailer, parts, etc.
Q: Along with that, you have no doubt worked every job in the dealership. What part of the dealership fuels your passion?
Clemons: Sales is definitely where my passion lies, but I of course love it all. There is something special about getting families out on the water in their dream boat. We have people that have saved and planned their entire lives for a boat, and delivering that dream is most definitely the best part of our job. Selling and delivering the boats is by far the best part, we like to call it “Upgrading summers”.
Q: What on-the-job lessons would you say have shaped who you have become in your leadership role?
Clemons: The best on the job lessons for me as a Clemons has been the fact that my Grandfather and Dad have never given me anything for free. I have done most jobs at the dealership, and I was never given special treatment as a Clemons, I had to do the work and do it correct, just like everyone else. I also learned a ton during the downturn from my Dad between 2007-2010. As most dealers did, we experienced some hard times and I learned more about what a leader has to do than any other time in my career. I believe it has not only given me some skills on making hard decisions but also having compassion and taking sacrifices as an owner first, before anyone else.
Q: You’re a passionate guy who is very goal-oriented. And under your direction, the business has been accelerating. What piece of sales advice have you picked up that you would offer to an up-and-coming sales professional in today’s market?
Clemons: I could write a book on this, and maybe some day I will! If I had to give one piece of advice to a new sales professional, it would be simple: The most important sale you will ever make is to sell yourself. In order to do that, you need to train every day. EVERY DAY.
Q: What has been the most valuable advice given to you that’s helped you find success as the newest generation to run the business?
Clemons: Success leaves clues. Study successful people doing what you want, and model what they do. SO SIMPLE IN THEORY, so hard in application!
Q: With a young daughter at home, how long before she becomes the boss?
Clemons: I have two daughters, one 15 month old and one 16 year old, that isn’t a typo!!! As for my 16 year old Haley, for now I do not think she wants to run the dealership, but lets not forget that when I was 16 I said I HATED the dealership and would never work there! You just never know what may happen, but I have plenty of things to do before I am ready to “relax”!
Q: What do you believe gives Clemons Boats an advantage over other dealerships in your area?
Clemons: You don’t think I can give away my secrets do you?! We have several advantages, but our biggest advantage is the fact we are family owned and operated, we have been in business for over 50 years, and we have the best brands in boating! Other than the above, we truly care about our customers and do our best to over deliver on all promises made. We take it very seriously.
Q: Professionally, what has been your proudest moment?
Clemons: On a professional level, it was most definitely receiving the top 100 dealer award! We have worked our tails off the past few years, and I had an overwhelming sense of pride when I found out. I was much more happy for our employees than myself, they all work super hard and although I am a compassionate guy, I know I expect a lot from them. Being a Top 100 dealer is a big deal to me!
Q: What are 5 things that people may not know about you?
- I have played the drums since 9 and used to be really good. USED TO BE!
- I totaled 1945 lbs in a powerlifting meet in 2013
- I have a torn pectoral muscle from bench pressing
- I am a duck hunting fanatic
- I do everything I do for my family