Buy a Boat, Get ‘Getaways!’

MarineMax Greets Enthusiastic Boat Show Customers
Mar 22, 2019

At the recent Progressive Atlantic City Boat Show, MarineMax of Ship Bottom supplied a current of ready boaters with new watercraft, new digital technology and the gateway to skills for getting out on the water this summer.

“Not only did we see more sales than the previous year,” said John Mondelli, general manager of the Ship Bottom location, “we also recorded a lot more leads, which we will work on now from the boat show that will hopefully buy boats now heading into the season as well.”

“I think the boat show was a great indication of how the season is and how boating in general is; it was really, really busy,” noted Greta Andrews, marketing manager for MarineMax Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Region.

“We had a ton of first-time boaters, which is really important,” Andrews added. “It just goes to show you that boating still plays a huge part in our community and the lifestyle is ever-growing.”

The retail chain MarineMax is the largest retailer of boats in the country, with over 60 locations for yachting, fishing and leisure craft, marine services, repairs and customization. That comes in handy when an owner is traveling, as Mondelli will elaborate on.

Closer to home, or within an overnight or a weekend’s range, the company’s “Getaways!” events for owners will take them places they might not have known were within reach, in their own boat. Read on for that, too.

The Ship Bottom store took part in the boat show with several other MarineMax stores in New Jersey; there are other locations as close as Brick and Somers Point. “As a combined dealership, we sold 59 boats and did over $10 million in sales,”  Mondelli reported.

This is the time of year that people will buy a boat if they want a boat for this season, he said, because of availability and build times.

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For an overview of what was showcased at the boat show and what customers were looking for, follow this Q&A from The SandPaper reporter’s informal chat with Mondelli and Andrews:

waterfront: Jumping to an interesting point, technology, did you display a lot of new technology? In other words, are there a lot of changes in the new models?

Mondelli: We did; a lot of the boats, especially the Sea Ray luxury boats, which can be bow riders or sport boats, have switched to digital gauges. They’re no longer analog; everything is in a convenient digital format. You can have all your information in one nice digital gauge.

In some of the larger Sea Rays, we can actually work the different parts of the boat from that digital gauge – your lighting, your stereo, different things that open and close on the boat.

WF: Remote control?

Mondelli: In our Scout boats we do have a key fob, hooked to a CZONE  system, which will allow turning all the indirect lights on and off; turning the battery switches on and off so you can power the boat before you even get to it.

The technology is ever-increasing. Some of the Sea Rays will be eventually available with the feature where you can monitor different maintenance items on your boat from your cell phone: battery life, whether the bilge pump has been running, conditions like that.

Engines need less maintenance than they ever did before. Shifting on a lot of models is now digital throttle and shift, so you don’t have the old cables ...  it’s easier to use.

We even have joystick piloting for boats ... a computer tells the engine to make the boat do what you want it to do. It makes maneuvering around the dock and getting into slips way easier. Or if you’re getting ready to go into a marina, you can move the boat sideways, diagonally, any way you want. Docking becomes so much easier. Someone who has never driven a boat can now dock the boat with confidence. We can teach you within 20 minutes how to use the joystick.

With Mercury engines the joystick even has a feature called Skyhook that will hold you in place if you come to, say, a bridge that you’re waiting to be raised if the boat is taller. You can use that for fishing overtop of a shipwreck or a reef.

Talk to Mondelli or the showroom staff or visit the manufacturers’ websites for more details.

WF: Promos for the boat show told customers this is a good time to buy. Was that your message to people at your display as well?

Mondelli: We use fixed rates that are very reasonable. The banks have become easier to deal with over the years; for a while they were very difficult. And we can do loans anywhere from, say, 10 years to 20 years, depending on the value of the boat they’re going to buy.

Andrews: I think the thing we like to focus on is that luxury is really affordable. There is something out there for everyone. Some people might think “Oh, I can never afford a boat,” but you can afford a boat. We have boats out here that are, with approved credit, the price of a car payment, some cheaper than a car payment. So really there’s a boat out there for every type of boater, and every walk of life.

WF: What types of boats or price ranges were people you talked to looking for this year?

Mondelli: Marine Max basically offers several brands. Sea Ray is our primary brand; Sailfish, which is a center console fishing boat or dual console; Scout, center or dual, and we also offer other brands as well as Galleon yachts, a new yacht company. We also represent Boston Whaler and Grady White at our Island Marine center down in Ocean View, N.J., so  they were all present at the boat show. I would say there’s a boat for every price point and for every style. We have family boats, we have hardcore fishing boats, we have luxury cruising boats; we can cover that whole gamut.

I would say our most popular sizes at the boat show seemed to be 27-, 29-foot, in that range.

Andrews: And just speaking from market trends and market share, center consoles seem to be doing really well right now. Our Boston Whaler brand is on fire.

WF: Why center consoles?

Mondelli: Ease of use: outboard power allows people to go to shallower areas, and they don’t generally have as much canvas to deal with at the end of the day. It’s easier to clean; that seems to be a good trend.

Outboard power boats have seen an increase in demand, too. Sea Ray has outboard power boats as well as the fishing boat brands.

WF: What services are available that not everyone knows about?

Andrews: Something that is exclusive to MarineMax, if John sells a boat out of his Ship Bottom location and they were going to take a boat trip to, say, Florida, we have a location in Florida that will service that boat for you.

Mondelli: Yes, MarineMax has 62 locations. Say you want to take a week’s vacation in North Carolina, or South Carolina, or Fort Myers; we typically can find a MarineMax location near there, or we can help you with service. We have those connections.

WF: Tell us about the Getaways! trips.

Mondelli: As a MarineMax dealer, we do a lot of getaway trips and events for our customers. So, not only do we sell you the boat, we show you where to have fun with the boat – where to go and how to do it.

For instance, a day trip could be as simple as me taking 15 customers and their boats down to Atlantic City to show them how to get there in the back bays, arranging all the slips, lunch for the day, letting them spend some time either at the outlet stores or the casinos, back to the boats and then follow the leader back.

It gives them some confidence to do the trips that they’ve never done before, and then they meet new friends on the trips and go off and do their own trips with their friends. It gives you a lifestyle with the boat.

Andrews: In addition to the trips, we offer continuing education classes, such as a Women On Water class, which is really popular.

Boating for women can be intimidating, so we offer this class with a woman captain,  just women, so they can take the time to learn how to dock, to drive, to tie knots, electronics seminars.

We want you to feel comfortable in using your boat, and we want you to use your boat, so anything we can do to help ...

WF: How long have you been in this location?

Mondelli: MarineMax of Ship Bottom was initially Merit Marine in 1975 and then MarineMax bought us in 1999. We’ve been continuously in this location since 1975 as a Sea Ray dealer. MarineMax is a large corporation; we have shareholders, we’re traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

MarineMax Ship Bottom is a complete marine facility with new and used sales, brokerage services, full service and refurbish center. Our showroom is located on Long Beach Island on Route 72, just after the bridge. The Brant Beach location, with a modern marina, is our service facility. We also have mobile service if you can’t get to us.

We do demo events at the marina where you can test drive boats. We give free education to expand your skills on the water.

We’re seeing a lot of new boaters, which is great. They start with a certain size boat, catch the fever and then they go up in size. We have some families who we’ve sold four boats, five boats, six boats. Once you’re in boating, you kind of get hooked.

For more information, visit the website marinemax.com, which will link to the Ship Bottom store. MarineMax Ship Bottom is located at 214 West Ninth St., phone 609-494-2102.

— Maria Scandale

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