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Mount Dora Marina shows its true colors

Don’t tell people who you are; show them who you are. Such advice might be more relevant in today’s overcrowded cyber-world than ever before, because showing people your company values is what can ultimately set you apart.

Such is the case for Central Florida’s Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina. For 18 years, Joe and Susan Lewis have used their business to give back to their community, and boldly put their values on display, literally, with about 1,050,000 lights.

Mount Dora is a lakefront tourist-oriented community. It celebrates Christmas with everything from a lighted boat parade (which Mount Dora Boating Center produces) to a Cannonball Christmas Express, the real wood-burning steam train.

For the Lewis family, including teens Joey and Julia, setting lights in their retail complex begins in late October. From the marina’s covered boat wells to the new boat inventory strategically placed all around the grounds, just about everything gets lights.

On the season’s first “light up night,” more than 2,000 people entered the grounds. While the view from the road is spectacular every night, the Lewis family opens the grounds to visitors for eight evenings, including Christmas Eve and Christmas night, before its lights-out on Jan. 11. And here’s an exclusive report: Joe claims this year that, after Santa makes all his rounds on Christmas Eve, he’ll be circling the lake on his new cruiser.

The many 3-D lighted displays — such as a Christmas train on one roof, Santa and elves on others, giant trumpeting angels and glowing stars on building sides and lighted palm trees throughout the property — have all been fabricated in “Santa’s workshop,” a special room where Joe “creates.” This year, in a big undertaking, Joe converted about 95 percent of the lights to LED.

While the Lewis family is clearly not motivated by business considerations (they could just send out the typical Merry Christmas email, saving work and money) they acknowledge they do get prospects that come back citing the Christmas lights. But Joe makes it clear: “We do it to be part of our community and to show the joy that Christmas means to us. Honestly, any business that comes from it is just an extra blessing.”

So, as we celebrate Christmas 2014, perhaps every dealership might take time to consider some way of showing who they are and what they value, whether it’s taking leadership in a community cause, visibly identifying with a key community organization or starting some tradition worthy of public recognition.

While still pictures of the Lewis’ marine center have been published before, Joey has assembled the first video of their efforts and I’m privileged to have the above link for you today.

Enjoy … and Merry Christmas!


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