Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join
MRAA Blogs
Blog Home All Blogs
The drive to continuously grow and improve is at the heart of the MRAA, our members and our staff. That’s why we’re launching this blog: to share what we’re learning in our work and in our lives with you – and in hopes you’ll share what you’re learning too.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: marine industry  dealer development  continuous improvement  MRAA member  member spotlight  business advice  growth  fun facts  dealer focused  customer experience  Annual conference  dealer to dealer  best practices  discussions  certification  mraa history  resources  Continuous Certification  experience  MICD  Education  relationships  training  Annual meetings  industry insight  MRAA  employee satisfaction  employees  Experiences  intent 

Dealer to Dealer: March 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
If you were to start a brand new dealership today, what would be your first priority for establishing a foundation for success?

“The key to starting and maintaining any business begins with your people and their culture.  You can be the best at what you do but without a strong team behind you, the long term successes will be short lived.  A formal plan to educate and maintain your team allows them to grow within your business.  Your people are the face of your business and who form the relationships with your customers.  As a business owner you can only wear so many hats and be successful.  Hire and take care of your staff and they will look out for you.” - Jeff Siems, Blue Springs Marine

“Creating an internal company culture which promotes and fosters individual growth through collaborative, team centric and employee focused programs. Build the company around building up your team. That foundation is unshakeable. Businesses should promote human flourishing, both inside and outside of the company. But we have to start with allowing our people to flourish.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marine

“To make sure the team is clear on the mission of the organization. This goes for President to the lot person. This needs to be put in a handbook. That is used and not stored away.” - Ken Toby, Marine Sales

“The first priority must be hiring the best people for where you want the company to go.  Sometimes that means paying up for a better person, but in the long run it's worth it.” - Jeremy Anderson, Big Thunder Marine

“Putting a good business plan together would be the first thing I would do. You need to know the area and the opportunities that exist. Establishing relationships with banks and vendors, what products you would like to sell and what lines are available for that area are key. Specialize in something! Have a product or service that no one else has or can provide. Although location is always important if you specialize in something I believe it is not as important as it used to be.” - Lou Cecchini,  Off Shore Marine, Inc.

“One of my first priorities would be to have a well laid out plan for departments which would include clearly documented processes along with properly educated employees with clear job descriptions and proper training.  This has been one of our biggest challenges to implement after being in business for 30 years and allowing the business to grow without these items in place.” - David Muirhead, Willey’s Marine

“Purchase a on-water location so storage and rental could be included as revenue contributors.” - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

“Products are an important piece that can attract a new customer. Many products are available online, but a store that carries quality merchandise can give consumers their first chance to experience a feel/smell/touch of something that makes them decide whether or not it is the right choice and why it is important to carry a wide variety of different items when trying to see what your new area is in need of.” - Dave Larrison, Waterfront Marine

“[When you first start a dealership], you have nothing… and nobody knows who you are. My first priority would be to create vision, mission and value statements. As you go out into the world to create your dream business, people need to know who you are and what you stand for. Having these statements will inform and impress prospective lenders, vendors, employees and customers that you have a direction, how you intend to get there, and that you are someone that can be trusted.” - Larry Russo, Sr., MarineMax Russo

“My first priority would be finding the right people to help me run it. I truly believe that The Sportsman is very successful because of our staff. You have to have the right people in the right places to do the right things!” - Christi Romero, The Sportsman

“It would be the location! We’ve all heard the saying “location, location, location”  Where are your competitors located? How close are you to water for demoing? How many people drive by your location each day? Freeway visibility is a huge way to get your name out in the local community.” - Bob Bense, Superior Boats

“With experienced personnel at a premium, finding the best Dealer Management System has become more important than ever. Picking the product that has a foundation of managing the day to day business and not just an accounting system with management tools added, is critical. The time spent learning the pros and cons of the many DMS that exist will pay dividends for years to come.  The DMS will be the very foundation that the business will be built upon and will play a pivotal role  in achieving success.” - Frank Sublette, Marine Sales

What would be your first priority? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer  dealer development  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Dealer to Dealer: February 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
How do you and your team inspire prospects and customers to trust you?

“Lasting trust is accomplished over time. If you view your walk ins and leads like “just a number” you are going in the wrong direction. Helping a client find what truly fits their needs and not trying to cram them into your oldest non-current is a good start. My take on trust comes down to this, ‘if you wouldn’t treat your mother that way, don’t treat your client that way.’” - Greg Harvey, Tobler Marina

“At the risk of using some overused expressions, we are basically honest to a fault. We believe in complete transparency and treat customers with the utmost integrity. We under-promise but over-deliver. Procedurally, our sales process is pain free - from sea trials to closing to service after the sale – our customer are made to feel at ease and treated like friends. We’re always accessible, we carry reliable products, and we maintain consistency throughout our six locations.” - Frank Ferraro, Nautical Ventures Group

“By assimilating my life and experiences to theirs. By demonstrating that I am a professional boat dealer and I give them answers that are correct and make sense to them. I ask questions and use their answers to "fit" the boat to their needs in a transparent and entertaining way.” - Jim Sabia, Top Notch Marine

“We have always taken the approach that we are to guide and educate them on the journey to boat ownership- not sell them.” - David deAndrade, White Lake Marina

“Tell the customer the truth […] and you will earn the respect and a good customer. I have been doing this for the past 57 years.” - Anthony Cavallo, Hi-Tide Boat Sales & Service

“Review reputation with Google and Facebook. Prior customers provides that first line advantage.” - David Nichols, Eric's Outboard Marine Sevice, Inc.

“Become an advocate / educator for your customers. Work hard to communicate with your customers on a regular basis. For example, email / post tips and articles for your customers and prospects to see. Offer to take existing customers on test runs of new models as they arrive at dealership. Both of you will experience a new model together with no expectation to purchase. You never know where the experience will lead to!  Hopefully an upgrade and trade of their existing boat or potentially a referral to a friend looking for a similar boat!” - Kim Sweers, FB Marine Group

"At the conference this year I heard the statement that sales sell the first boat at a dealership and service sells the rest. We fully believe in that statement. Many of our customers do business with us because of the service they received from us before the made any purchases from us. Those same customers are our best promoters. It always seems to come back to quality service in a timely manner. Customers for life or even customers for generations." - Jeff Sanborn, Handberg's Marine

“Integrity and  backing of the product you sell, strong follow through, open communication which includes “listening” to the customer.  What tops the list for me is reassurance of how we will take care of them “after” the sale.” - Shauna Reetz, Tracker Marine Boat Center - Sidney, Nebraska

“Attitude, kindness, and holding ourselves to a higher standard, use our mistakes as wisdom and correct our shortcomings and successes, and use examples to others in our communications to teach, inspire, and build truth into the relationship. Lead by example.” - Ed Brailsford, Charlotte Ski Boats

“We get told over and over again from prospective customers, recent new customers and ones who are on their 4th+ round with Rinker’s; why they not only chose us but keep coming back … and it’s not a surprise if sometimes they pop-in to say “Hi” and/or for a visit to catch-up. It’s simple … we are genuine in showing we really do care! Our always friendly atmosphere, personalized service and amazing, timely follow-ups makes all of our customers feel special and like they have become an extension of our family, not just a ’one-and-done’ experience/relationship just to get another boat out the door. At Rinker’s Boat World we strive to provide the most comprehensive and enjoyable experience overall for the customer as our major, #1 objective. We listen to what their needs are, develop great communication with them and show empathy. Empathy matters in sales, leading with empathy can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. When you're able to connect with a customer on a higher emotional level, the more likely they are to trust and believe in your ability to help. When salespeople understand and feel what the customer feels, they gain deeper insight into the emotional foundations of the customer's needs. This enables them in turn to define and articulate the best solution in terms that resonate with the customer.” - Carrie Ranney, Rinker’s Boat World

What do you and your team do to inspire trust? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  authenticity  best practices  business advice  continuous improvement  culture  customer experience  dealer development  dealer focused  dealer to dealer  discussions  employee satisfaction  growth  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member  relationships  workforce 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Dealer to Dealer: January 2020

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, January 14, 2020
What's your number one factor / point of preparation for success at your upcoming boat shows?

“Nothing matters if you do not have the right people on the floor, with the right training and skills. Best boat, best layout, best prices - those all mean nothing if you don't have the tools (people) to convert on the opportunities that come in the booth. Always start with who will be in the booth and build the rest around that.” - Sean Horsfall, Len’s Cove Marina

“Pre-marketing campaign and then lead capture.” - Richard Cromwell, Maritime Solutions

“The absolute number one point to focus on while preparing for the boat show is progressing your clients as much as possible before the show even begins. Ensuring that we have laid as much groundwork before the show so that we can focus on finalizing the deal while in the booth is one of the things that we try to focus on so that we can serve as many of our other customers and other fresh walk-ins as possible. We also are adamant that having quotes ready and printed beforehand, complete with trade values of their current unit, makes it is as seamless as possible with our customers and we can be prepared for them when they arrive at the boat show. In order to properly make sure we are ready for clients when they arrive, we set firm appointment times and make sure our clients understand the importance of time while the boat show from our dealership and sales reps perspective. We explain that if we will be removing ourselves from the floor at the boat show, that could cost us a potential new sale, but we are doing so to make sure that we will be available for that client when they arrive for their appointment.” - Mike Sears, Pride Marine Group

“I think the biggest preparation consist of organization, job role implementation combined with weekly training meetings leading up to the show as well as brief training and game planning the mornings of the show. This will help educate your staff that does not typically work in the sales department become more knowledgeable of the product and also make sure everyone is on the same page!” - J Hurless, Reeder Trausch Marine

“Set pontoons, lay carpet, bring in boats on trailers. Flashy or new models up front. Set up marketing materials and banners. Set up closing table in the back or corner making it private. Curtains around booth separating booths next to yours. Clean up and it's show time!” - Alan Atkins, Sundown Marine

“The number one factor is having a correctly trained sales team.” - Robbie Brown, Action WaterSports

“Number one preparation for the Boat Show Season is the overall layout of our booth.  We normally have 2 separate booths with as many as 40 boats on display.  We chose to use the old fashion way of pre-layout which is graph paper and cut out boats of each model we want to display.  We meet as a group or Team and bounce ideas off from one another to develop the most effective layout for our show.  We take into consideration the closing area, traffic flow, TV placement, signage, while grouping the different models together to make the sales process as effective and efficient as possible for both the consumer and the sales person.   Once we have our booth(s) set we will invite a couple of Service personnel to give us some insight as to the most efficient way to set the boats.  We review this as a TEAM and then implement the process on paper to be shared with all of the Staff.  This ensures we are all on the same page for set up, tear down, and most of all successful selling at the show!” - Jeff Husby, Regal & Nautique of Orlando

“It’s paramount that we keep the brand integrity of our dealership front and center at our booths. That is, we promote Nautical Ventures as much, if not more, as the boat brands on display. That’s because as a dealer, Nautical Ventures is delivering a great customer experience, with trust and service paving the way for client retention. Visiting our both is like visiting a friend... welcoming, comfortable, and fun.” - Frank Ferraro, Nautical Ventures

“Be consistent and know your customer.” - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

What are you doing to prepare for boat show season? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  best practices  boat show  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  marine industry  member spotlight 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Dealer to Dealer: November 2019

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, November 19, 2019
What is one big trend are you watching as you
begin to prepare for 2020?

"Pontoon Inventory levels.” - Chad Taylor, Taylor’s South Shore Marine

"Triple & quad center consoles” - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Works, Inc.

"Watching the alternative propulsion methods. GreenLine Yachts is building the only true Hybrid currently available in the US market. So we have jumped into this space to be on the leading edge of the next wave of boating. Moving away from fossil fuels. “ - J.R. Means III., Bayport Yachts

"We are watching for a trend in boat leasing.” - Bryan Schiffli, AMC Marine

What trends are you currently following? Tell us below in the comment section.

Tags:  continuous improvement  customer experience  dealer development  future-proofing  industry insight  marine industry  member spotlight 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Dealer to Dealer: September 2019

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, September 11, 2019
How have you made purchasing decisions (for the next model year) at recent dealer meetings based on your current inventory levels?

I have brought in 2020 inventory, so that combined with my existing 2019 inventory, it will match my inventory level that I had last year heading into Q4. The primary difference being, last year at this time, I had less leftover 2018 inventory, where as this year roughly 30% of my inventory is MY 2019. Ultimately, my dealer meeting orders are down YOY. – Quinn Bellamy, Silver Lake Marine

We are backing are orders off by 20%. To much inventory and don’t think It will be a problem to find next year. – Ken Toby, Marine Sales Kentuckian

There has been lots of talk of 30% more inventory in the field than last year and I feel that it has a lot of people scared and dumping inventory at low margins.  The explanation in my opinion is two factors.  The obvious one is bad weather for the first part of the year.  The second is not as clear to many dealers and you guys maybe have a better handle on this and can shed some light.  Many dealers I talk with or sell against will often say sometime in May that they are sold out of new boats and can’t get orders fulfilled, etc.  This has gone on for years.  The often heard (and misguided) response to that is, “ that’s a good problem to have!”.  The fact is that it is not at all a good problem, it is poor planning plain and simple.  So now that the economy and consumers have proven over the past 7 years that things are good, dealers have ordered to accommodate demand.  And to do this you need to have stock over the summer when people are using and buying boats.  Just because 2020’s are now on our lots does not mean that you should be clear of all 2019 models.  It takes time to build inventory so if you were to be sold out in June and 2020s start slowly rolling in to your dealership in July, you will not have a full stock until winter.  The “overstock” of inventory is merely a correction of past “understocking” combined with a later start to the selling season.  No need to panic!  Just my .02. – Stuart Litjens, Boulder Boats

Yes, we did make ordering decisions based upon current inventory levels and the compressed selling season we experienced in 2019. The year began with political and economic news that, to some extent, hindered very early-season boat sales. We went into a dark, wet, cold, long spring before boaters saw any real sunshine around July 1. – Tighe Curran, Pier 33

After reviewing our current inventory we have made a decision to cut back on the initial 2020 orders. There are many dealers that have more inventory than previous years. This means there will be a glut of left over inventory and unfortunately dealers are willing to "blow out" their product below normal pricing. Also in the last few months it seems like the retail sales have slowed a little. Also election year is next year and I have seen for the last 45 years the boat sales slow up every four years just before the elections because of the uncertainty but after the elections business as usual.  We will be cautious for the next 12 months but by no means cut back on our normal inventory levels. You can't sell it if you don't have it! – Jim Wiborg, Bob Hewes Boats

Very carefully, still have ‘18s in stock. – Von Skinner, Cozy Cove Marina

Manufacturers have been forcing us to take on more, and in turn put our store into a volatile market. Our area/competition has high inventory levels for this time of year, and if the economy turns we will all be in trouble. While reps share our concerns, they can’t do as much as they could in the past. The continued rising price of new boats, and the cost of warranty to deliver a product in confidence to the consumer is higher. We are now in a situation where it requires more employees just to deliver on the same principles we have in the past, because of poor quality control from the factory. We have scaled back on ordering 2020 product because of this. – Anonymous

The amount of purchasing I'm doing is based on what has turned. I have 4 lines. [Our] purchasing decisions were made based on the idea that it will be a flat or slightly down year – Joe Hoffmaster, Hoffmaster’s Marina

We have, and in most cases we’re anticipating an increase. We doubled the order for one of our best-selling brands, from 40 units in 2019 to 80 units in 2020. – Roger Moore, Nautical Ventures

How have you made your purchasing decisions for next model year? Tell us below in the comment section!

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  growth  marine industry  member spotlight 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Dealer to Dealer: August 2019

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, August 7, 2019
As we push toward the end of the prime selling season, what is the one goal you want to accomplish by the end of the year?

"Figure out why our new boat sales are lacking behind 2018 when every other aspect of our business are well ahead." - Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center

"The one goal I’d like to accomplish would be to reclaim my sanity. Somewhere between Memorial Day and Labor day, all normal sanity was sucked out of my mind. Hopeful some cooler days and smooth sounds will restore my fried brain cells." - David deAndrade, White Lake Marine

"Top of my list is to reduce the inventory. Our inventory is high for this time of year and the manufacturers are asking for new 2020 orders to either met or exceed last year's orders. Being in this business for over 40 years we know that every election year the business tapers off towards election time. But after the elections, whether a Republican or Democrat is elected, there is business as usual. So we will adjust our inventory accordingly in 2020.  

Also we are training in house for new technicians. We are using our older tech's to train the younger new tech's and compensating the older tech's for their training." - Jim Wiborg, Bob Hewes Boats

"Be billing 80% of paid trades payroll hours." - Jim Dragseth, Whiticar Boat Yard

"We’ve outgrown our current location, both in size and scope. Our goal is to secure a bigger, deep water location that will allow us to inventory more boats, expand our service operations, accommodate more employees, add a full-service marina component, and more. Ideally we would migrate to the new location during 2020." - Roger Moore, Nautical Ventures

"We need to sell through our overstocked and aged inventory. There's also a challenging time ahead so far as inventory planning and management goes. Our primary goal is to identify when and where to shift our ordering and delivery dates, as well as volume of inbound orders." - Greg Knop, Family Boating Center

What do you want to accomplish in the upcoming months? Tell us below in the comment section!

Tags:  continuous improvement  dealer development  dealer to dealer  growth  marine industry  member spotlight 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Member Spotlight: Roxanne Rockvam

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Monday, June 17, 2019

Roxanne Rockvam, of Rockvam Boat Yards, located in Spring Park, Minn., continues to be a strong advocate for boating and water preservation. We had the chance to ask her a few questions about working in her family’s business and her new initiatives, and the Clean Boater Pledge.

Q: First of all, tell us a little about yourself and how you got your start in the boating industry.

Rockvam: I’m told my first boat ride was at 6 days old. But as a 3rd generation in the boating industry, I’ve been told “the water is in my veins”. We have a family marina and with a family business I’ve always been around it. In fact, I started on payroll at age 7 and I remember having to stand on the edge of the showcase to reach the cash register.

Although I’ve had other jobs including College Admissions, I worked holiday retail, I was the Easter Bunny at the local mall, and we can safely say after working at a family restaurant… you don’t want me as your table server, haha. The nice thing is the experience gained at these jobs has helped me with our marina, which I joined full time in 1999.

Q: Your parents, Jerry and Joyce, opened the marina over 50 years ago. Do you have certain family values you carry over into your business?

Rockvam: Absolutely. Work hard! My parents started the marina and carefully grew the business. The story is quite inspiring. Looking back at what they developed from our house with the store in the lower level, one dock, and a warehouse, to the four warehouses, repair shop, fifteen pontoons, a boat club, dry stack for 120, two docks, and three forklifts and a full time crew of 6 and part time crew of over 30! That’s your work hard inspiration story that transcends all generations. Every day when you come to the marina you get to experience it, first hand. That’s a great motivator.

Q: Rockvam Boat Yards is one of the founding “First Five” of the Minnesota Clean Marina program. Explain what it means to be a Certified Clean Marina in the state of Minnesota. What has the certification means for the team at Rockvam Boat Yards?

Rockvam: The Minnesota Clean Marina Program was a journey.  It took a working committee of about 18 business and agencies to formulate and launch. Without the help of the DNR, MN-Tap, and founding partners, it would have stayed a great idea. The idea came to life when Jerry was at CMM training in 2001 and learned about the Florida program from another classmate. That’s when Jerry pitched the idea to his MInnesota colleagues, but it wasn’t until 2008 when Sunnyside, Afton, Windmill, Bayport and Rockvam’s got together and started the plan. The collective collaboration and industry contacts brought the team to 18. The “other team” includes the Clean Marina Programs before us and their ability to guide and advise us, which greatly reduced our launch time to success. That happened when we were able to certify the first five marinas in 2010! It’s a fantastic program where each marina need to meet criteria concerning 300 Best Management Practices, things from proper hazardous waste disposal, environmental spill equipment, and the education of boating public. Next is a visit from the certification committee. We are now over 20 marina’s that fly our Minnesota Clean Marina flag. Our goal is to continue to grow our certified marinas and achieve a revenue source to help us move forward!

Q: You are involved in many initiatives that focus on educating boaters on the importance of protecting our waters. Recently, you launched and the Clean Boater Pledge. Tell us about the programs and how they came to be.

Rockvam: Pontoon Girl focuses on the boating lifestyle for women… the “Water, Sun, Friends” aspect.

For the past 30 years I’ve watched people rent our pontoon boats. Paying attention to why they’re taking a cruise, what they bring, and how much fun they have.

Pontoon Girl captures the essence of how to enjoy your boat. The things “they” don’t tell you… such as appetizers that are boat friendly, festive drinks including non-alcohol ideas, super cute boat clothes. There’s a weekly theme in the free ToonDay Tuesday newsletter and even more ideas in our members VIP Pontoon Girl group.

Here’s the cool thing, the success of Pontoon Girl has given way to an amazing platform called and over 500 boaters in one month have taken the pledge! Get your customers to take the pledge, it’s super easy and it’s a wonderful way to engage the boaters across the country to be involved in clean habits. ALL boaters are welcome! In fact, I want them ALL to take the pledge and start practicing simple things, like using a mineral based sunscreen. Really, if you change one thing… this is it. The “footprint” of sunscreen in the water is devastating and it is HUGE. Research it, use mineral based sunscreen.

Q: Lastly, what are 5 things that people may not know about you?

  1. I’m a former national champion at baton twirling, I can twirl fire baton, and I performed at the Super Bowl.
  2. I can solve a Rubik’s cube, nerd alert… I have over 100 different types.
  3. I speak Japanese and I lived in Japan.
  4. Diet Pepsi and Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of the four food groups!
  5. My dog is big, fluffy, white, and his name is Mr. Pancake – but not because he’s big, fluffy, and white… he was actually named after the restaurant in the Wisconsin Dells (long story).

Tags:  certified clean marina  family business  member spotlight  MRAA member 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Member Spotlight: Patrick Green

Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

As a young professional in the boating world, he understands the importance of continuous improvement. Since his first job, Patrick Green has grown as a professional at some of the industry's most reputable organizations.  Read on to learn more about how Patrick navigates the workplace in order to create a positive work culture.

Q: How did you get started in the boating industry?

Green: I got my first job working summers at Gordy’s in Fontana, Wisconsin on Geneva Lake. I actually was able to save enough money working my first two summers to buy a car on my own before I turned 16.

Q: Being a young professional, you fall into the category of Millennial. How do you navigate the workplace, as a leader, with that “label”?

Green: Reading the room. One of the biggest lessons I hope to carry with me 20 years from now, is understanding & learning from the generational gap. When a company's culture becomes stagnant so do its people.

Q: Tobler Marina is a Marine Industry Certified Dealership. As the Director of Certification, what benefits are you seeing within the dealership after completing and actively participating in the program?

Green: We’ve gotten in the habit of including the Certification Curriculum in our weekly manager meetings, and then trickling it down through weekly dept meetings. This has enabled us to reflect, but also allowed us to push forward with simplifying process. The accountability tools have also helped us understand why the process is so important. Employee feedback is key.

Q: As a professional who puts an emphasis on growing and continuously learning, what would you say was the most important thing you learned in the business this year?

Green: It’s important to have values in an organization that match personal values. This also relates to employees and customers - and the relationships that coincide.

Q: We always end our Member Spotlight interview with this… What are 5 things that people may not know about you?

  1. I was a zipline guide in Alaska for one summer after college.

  2. I went snowboarding every month for 23 months in a row.

  3. I love to rock climb.

  4. I studied Philosophy in college.

  5. I aspire to do the Great Loop.

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

    Share |
    PermalinkComments (0)

    Member Spotlight: Susan York-Duquette

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Wednesday, October 31, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    As a marine industry leader, who has spent her whole life in the boating business, Susan York-Duquette understands the importance of honesty and fostering positive relationships with the individuals of her community.

    Q: Since 2010, you and your husband, Rory, have owned and managed Lakeview Marine. What made you decide to take on the role of owner?

    York-Duquette: I became the owner of Lakeview Marine after the sudden passing of my father, who owned a dealership in our location since the early 1990s. I felt a sense of responsibility to our employees and clients to continue the business and the services we provide. Both my husband and my mother are both important members of our staff, and the decision to keep the business going was truly because of their support and also based on my love of the industry and a desire to make my career in the boating business.

    Q: What is the most interesting decision you’ve made while in the boating business?

    York-Duquette: Interesting decisions I believe are ones that are made with more of the big picture in mind, and not purely based on profits. There is a lot of talk in the industry about our customer base aging, and the need to encourage younger people to get on the water. In our community, many people feel like if they cannot afford a boat, they cannot enjoy our lake. With this in mind, we made the decision to expand our offerings to kayak and paddleboard rentals. These rentals are not a profit center but we feel that it is important to give the people of the community more chances to enjoy our lake. I am proud to offer this service and we hope that through it, we may gain new water enthusiasts and future boaters.   

    Q: We know that many of your family members can be found around the dealership. Do you have certain family values that carry over into your business?

    York-Duquette: I grew up in my father’s dealership, and as a result our family was centered around the business in many ways. Today, my children already spend time interacting with our customers and employees. I always advocate for honesty with everyone, and expect that my children will pick up on that as they grow up. I feel that you “get what you give” and if you work hard and treat people fairly then good things will happen for you and your organization. I learned this from my parents in watching how they did business and built positive community relationships over the years.

    Q: You currently sit on MRAA Young Leaders Advisory Council. Why do you feel it’s important that the younger side of the industry get involved with YLAC?

    York-Duquette: I believe that it is very important for the younger people in the industry to get involved with trade groups because the future of all of our marine businesses depends on having a vibrant and well-organized advocacy group on our side. Issues are being debated on the state and national levels of government that will have direct impact on how we do business, and there needs to be a voice of the industry working on our behalf.  Also, there are many issues that are found in common in dealerships around the country, and by working together to face these problems and by learning from each other’s successes and failures, we will be able to better serve the customers. There is strong leadership now working on important matters such as ethanol, water access, and technician availability, and now is the time for the next generation to step up and learn from them, so we may take over those roles in the future.

    Q: As always, we want to end with this... What are 5 things that people may not know about you?


    • My husband and I live in the house I grew up in with our two daughters (Raegan 5 & Sydney 3) and our American bulldog Linkin.

    • I am a big sports fan, particularly of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots! (I know most everyone from outside of NE stopped reading here, but that is ok)

    • I have a degree in Sport Management and before I took over the dealership I was intending to have a career in the professional sports world.

    • I love to travel and enjoy exploring new places. We are fortunate to be able to travel for dealer meetings each year, and always try to extend one or two of these trips into a vacation in a new place.

    • Christmas is my favorite holiday! I love decorating and hosting gatherings for family and friends. It is the one time of the year I get to spend time at home!

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

    Share |
    PermalinkComments (0)

    Member Spotlight: Monica Reed-Hurst

    Posted By Mickaela Hilleren, Tuesday, October 16, 2018
    Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    Over the course of her career, Monica Reed-Hurst, of Spend-A-Day Marina, has held many titles (balloon inflator, Sales rep, leader of the conga line, just to name a few).  But regardless of title, she knows her passion lies in the boating industry and will continue to be a strong advocate for the future of boating.

    Q: You have been part of the boating world for a while, how did you get started in the boating industry?

    Hurst: I got started in the boating industry at a very young age.  My grandfather started Spend-A-Day Marina in 1950 as a boat rental facility and through the years it has grown to be what we are today sales, service, rental and marina.  I started by inflating clown balloons at the boat show when I was around 8 years old, then I graduated to giving customers their popcorn and soda and labeling mailers, at 14 I started working on the gas dock and in the rental department.  After college, and testing the waters outside of the industry, I realized that once the boating industry is in your blood, it is there to stay.  I came back to the marina in 2005 and I haven’t looked back since.

    Q: You currently sit on MRAA Young Leaders Advisory Council. Why do you feel it’s important that the younger side of the industry get involved with YLAC? What was your reason for joining?

    Hurst: It is very important that the younger generations in the industry get involved because we have to be in touch with the heartbeat of what is happening in the industry to secure a place for recreational boating in the future.  We have to look bigger picture and see who is going to be buying boats, not only today but in 20 years, what do they want, what do our manufacturer environments look like, what legislation do we need to be aware of and support.

    The boating industry's success is much greater than each individual stores’ success and YLAC is an excellent opportunity to share ideas, exchange best practices, and to learn and develop what we need as a boating community to continue to prosper and share the lifestyle we love.

    Q: What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing what you do now?

    Hurst: If I wasn’t involved at the dealership level, I would probably be involved in some other aspect of the marine industry.  I have tried a couple other avenues before re-entering our family business and realized that my passion lies in the boating lifestyle.  My degree is in marketing so I would probably be working with a marketing company with a marine industry focus or at the manufacturer level focusing on dealer relations and marketing.

    Q: What is your proudest moment at Spend-A-Day Marina?

    Hurst: My proudest moment…when I came back we decided to become Marine Dealer Certified, which is a very extensive process with a lot of mapping and documentation involved initially.  I led that project and we maintained the certification going forward.  I have also been able to create and implement some very successful events at our dealership, including scavenger hunts, raft-offs, cookouts, and poker runs.  These are important to me because they really allow us to see how much customers’ enjoy their boating lifestyle, young and old alike.  When our customers enthusiastically ask about the next event and look forward to sharing it with their family and friends it makes me realize we are doing something right here…this is what it is all about…making and sharing the boating memories.

    Q: As always, we want to end with this... What are 4 things that people may not know about you?


    1. I lived in NYC for two years and was a dermatology rep.

    2. I have visited 27 countries…goal is to visit one new country a year…well that was the goal before my husband and I had kids.

    3. I have two beautiful little girls, Giovanna 5 ½, and Maia 4.

    4. My big break was about 10 years ago when I was an extra in a Kevin Bacon movie that was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Tags:  business advice  fun facts  marine industry  member spotlight  MRAA member 

    Share |
    PermalinkComments (0)
    Page 1 of 3
    1  |  2  |  3
    8401 73rd Avenue North, Suite 71, Minneapolis, MN 55428