FLIBS 2012 VIDEO: MarineMax CEO talks about growth

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FORT LAUDERDALE - The shopping mall approach that MarineMax employed at a mall in Tampa, Fla., is working so well that the world’s largest dealership chain has three more in the works and wants to add even more.

MarineMax CEO Bill McGill told Soundings Trade Only that of 100 non-boat owners who enter the mall showroom — which is equipped with a theater that shows videos geared to appeal to the emotional elements of boating — 3.5 end up buying their first boat.

McGill had the idea years ago, but mall space was too difficult to come by to execute it. With the economy claiming more stores, McGill is finding opportunities to move in.

Click play for an interview with McGill.

“There are more spaces available, but mall traffic has stayed the same,” McGill said.

The surprising thing about the concept was that so many mothers and children enter the showroom, McGill said.

New Jersey is next on the list of locations to mimic the model, as well as other areas of the Northeast.

“We really want to get that going in the Northeast,” McGill said. “What better way to get boats in front of people in places where there are cold winters?”

McGill made the remarks at a press event preceding the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which opens Thursday.

The event was designed to inform media members about the ways in which the company is changing and provide insight into the executives who run it.

From a spy plane test engineer to a NASA astronaut at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., McGill’s career path took him back to the thing he’d loved most as a child — “barefooting” during any chance he gets.

“A lot of people focus on what they sell, but very few talk about why they sell,” McGill said.

The dealership has brought its media relations department in-house to help get to “why” the people at MarineMax sell boats. Instead of a hierarchical system in the media relations team, the company has chosen a specific person to handle the “why” for each segment’s lifestyle, such as family, yachting and water sports.

Read more about MarineMax in December’s Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes

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