WWE star brings the smackdown to Michigan boatyard

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Rhyno-yard: Gerin renamed the yard so it would have a more laid back feel.

Rhyno-yard: Gerin renamed the yard so it would have a more laid back feel.

Terrance Gerin is passionate about two very diverse pursuits. During boating season, there’s nowhere he’d rather wake up than on his boat in a marina as the steam rises off the water.

When he’s working as a pro wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment, the 5’10” 295-pound brute is known as Rhyno, where he has spent 24 years building a following as a popular superstar known for his intensity and a finishing maneuver called “The Gore.”

With pro wrestling’s biggest event, Wrestlemania, just around the corner on April 7 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., we caught up with Gerin as he was working to get his new boatyard ready for the upcoming season. Because he’s the only employee, he picked up the phone with a simple greeting, “Boatyard.”

Gerin purchased the former LaPlaisance Creek Marina in Monroe, Mich., completing the transaction last October. He’s already a hands-on owner and has been working on the property through the winter, including changing the name to Big Daddy’s Boat Yard.

“The whole idea of the name is to get a good chuckle out of it,” he told Trade Only Today yesterday. “I want people to look around and say, ‘This is a nice place and a nice atmosphere.’” He added with a laugh that he does not want to be referred to as “Big Daddy.”

Gerin came to purchase the yard almost on a whim. He had been living aboard his 1975 Chris Craft double cabin at Gibraltar Boatyard in Rockwood, Mich., and he started talking with the owner about how he got into the business. “I love the history of places and people,” said Gerin. He learned that Gibraltar had started out as a small facility in 1969 and had been built up to a full service facility over time. Gerin also owns a 30-foot 1970 Lyman Islander.

When he’s in character, there’s nothing laid back about Rhyno.

When he’s in character, there’s nothing laid back about Rhyno.

It sounded good to Gerin so he went online and Googled marinas for sale in Michigan. LaPlaisance popped up and he made some inquiries. “It was an inheritance, I bought it off the original owner’s family,” said Gerin. “They didn’t have time and were absentee owners. It was more of a burden than a passion.”

He explained that his experience living aboard his boat helped facilitate the decision. “I didn’t know if I would like living around the marina and I loved it.”

Big Daddy’s Boat Yard has 69 docks and shoreside dockage, with space for 86 boats. Gerin isn’t disclosing what he paid, but he said that he will be a hands-on owner. “I really don’t need employees because it’s a small mom-and-pop marina,” he said. The slip customers will have his mobile phone number and transient customers will call the marina number and be forwarded to Gerin when he’s on the road. He will use the Square payment service and personnel from Harbor Marine, which is across the street, will come over to help transients tie up.

“They’ve given me a lot of great advice,” Gerin said of the owners and employees at Harbor Marine. Big Daddy’s Boat Yard is located on Bolles Harbor on Lake Erie in Michigan. Gerin said all the local businesses have been supportive. “The cool thing is everybody has the mentality if one does well everybody does well,” said Gerin. Many of his customers store their boats for the winter at Harbor Marine.

For the season, which runs April 15 through October 31, Big Daddy’s Boat Yard charges $875 for a 25-foot slip and he has spots up to 40 feet. All the fees include power and water. He’s tackling as much of the pre-season prep as he can on his own, but there’s one thing he won’t do. “I don’t touch electricity,” he said. He calls in a contractor for that.

Gerin grew up boating with his family on a 1963 Chris Craft. “Our Easter break was always scraping the bottom and cleaning it to get ready for the summer,” he said.

The owners of the WWE, the McMahon family, have taught Gerin how to be a hands-on business owner. “They cover every detail, whether it’s every week on TV or the live events,” he explained. “If they’re not there, reports go back to the home office every night.”

With Wrestlemania just around the corner, Gerin was getting ready to head to New York for the week leading up to the big event called Wrestlemania Access, where he would be meeting fans and signing autographs. Rhyno won’t find out if he’ll be part of the event’s “Battle Royale” until the day of the big fight. Gerin plans to keep wrestling as long as he can.

“I still have that passion but eventually my in-ring work will come to an end,” he said. “As long as that window’s open, wrestling is paying for a lot of the improvements and making the marina better.”

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