Talking Shop with Boat & Motor Superstores
When did your business open?
Palm Bay Marina opened back in the late 50’s as far as I can tell, maybe even a little further back than that. We purchased it in August of 2018.
Let’s talk about Palm Bay Marina and Boat & Motor Superstores. When you reference this marina what do you call it?
We call it Boats & Motor Superstores at Palm Bay Marina. Our website is still palmbaymarina.com which has been in place for many years so we decided to keep it the same.
How did you get started in the boating business over on the west coast before purchasing Palm Bay Marina here locally?
Well, I was a car dealer for many years. The car dealership was a family business that had been around for 70 years. In 1984 I added boats to the business. We started selling boats and rather quickly we became a top dealer for a lot of brands back then. Then one day, Wayne Huizinga came along which is now Auto Nation and thought our dealership was worth more than we did so he bought us out. I was too young to retire so I kept selling boats.
Do you have employees?
Yes, we have about 12 employees here at this location and we have over 40 at our west coast location which is located in Palm Harbor on Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County. Our west coast location is significantly bigger and in a much more populous area.
Tell us about your business, including the type or products or services you offer?
We have been a big Key West dealer at our Palm Harbor location for some time now. Here locally, another marina was handling Key West and the person handling it was Nick Furrow. Key West said they are going wherever Nick goes so Nick came with us and so did Key West. A big part of our decision to purchase Palm Bay Marina was having Key West because we knew if we had Key West we could do well. This year we were one of their top dealers again. We carry other brand as well such as Sportsman Boats, Blackfin Boats, Salt Creek Skiffs and American Eagle Canoes. Also, not many people know we are also a Skeeter dealer as well but we don’t get too many of them. In a nutshell, we are a full service marina located here on Turkey Creek in Palm Bay. We have boat sales and service, a bait & tackle shop, kayak and canoe rentals and a boat club for people that do not own a boat but like to get out on the water.
What makes your business unique, what is your specialty?
Most of the marinas around here do not sell boats. Also, most marinas do not have an onsite bait & tackle shop and don’t offer live bait. We pride ourselves on providing this to our customers. Most days we have a variety of live bait such as mullet, pinfish, croakers, fiddler crabs, etc. basically whatever we can get. We also sell live shiners because Turkey Creek is mostly freshwater so anglers catch bass and snook right here. Also, we have our own service department onsite which other marina’s typically just sub that out. We are truly a full service marina, a one stop shop for our customers.
You recently purchased the land across the street on Turkey Creek. What are your plans for that property?
Well, there is still along way to go but we are in the process of getting ready to permit it. We are going through all of the necessary steps now. Once we have all of the legalities finalized, the plan is to emulate our west coast store by creating a big service department which will be all inside with air conditioning which makes it a lot nicer for our techs to work on stuff in this 100 degree heat. We will also have a showroom over there as well and sell a lot of accessories, boat parts, fishing tackle, rods & reels, apparel, sunglasses and water toys. We handle a lot of that stuff at our other location but this location will focus on the fishing tackle to fish our area effectively. All of us here are fishermen so we are not going to sell stuff that we don’t think will work for our area. Also, we will have a fork lift drop and inside boat storage which will be able to accommodate up to a 45 foot boat.
What has been your biggest success to date at this location?
I would say taking on Sportsman Boats has been a big success for us. We were ranked their number nine dealer this past year so we won an award for that. That relationship came at a perfect time because we were having issues with inventory when it all came together.
What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Well, lately I would say Sportsman and Blackfin are very restrictive on where you sell to. You have a defined area and you have to sell within that area. We are getting a fair amount of calls from people out of area because they can search you out on the internet. So having to tell people yeah, we have this 32’ Sportsman it’s available but we can’t sell it to you because you are not in my market has been a bit challenging.
Does your business give back to your community?
We sure do, for example this weekend we donated to the Indian River Lagoon cleanup hosted by the Marine Resource Council. We sponsor the rowing team for the high school. We just did something with the Palm Bay Police Department supporting one of their fundraisers. We are always doing stuff like that.
Can you describe your customers?
We have all types. We have retired elderly people and we have young people. I would say they are outdoor folks, they are active and a lot of them are into fishing. But, they also like hanging out at the sandbar too. However, most of the boats we sell are fishing style boats.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
You know, I think a lot of them know Nick. He’s been in this area his whole life so they’ve dealt with him or know of him. He is extremely knowledgeable and goes above and beyond to deliver a great boat buying experience for our customers. They also know of us and our good reputation at our west coast dealership. Also, the brands we carry are great boats. Just overall we try to make our customers very happy. We sell our boats subject to a sea trial so we make sure the person likes the boat before they pay for it. We actually take them out in the boat and let them try it. A lot of places don’t do that. All of the boats we sell are fully equipped, meaning there is a coast guard kit on the boat and the boat has a full tank of fuel. If the boat is on a trailer we include the trailer straps to tie it down in the back. Just going the extra mile for our customers goes a long way in them becoming repeat customers and referring their friends to us as well.
Thanks again for chatting with us, Brad!
For all our readers out there, be sure to check out Boat & Motor Superstore to see their new and used boat inventory, for rentals, or if you are in need of marine servicing or just need bait. Find them on Turkey Creek at 4350 Dixie Hwy NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905, or call 321-723-0851.