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Dealers form joint venture for enhanced service

A group of 37 dealers in 15 states banded together to become “Boater’s Edge” dealers, though each will remain independently owned and operated.

Formed under the auspices of the Chapin, S.C.-based Boat Dealers’ Alliance, each location will remain independent, while providing retail buyers with new services to enhance the boating experience. BDA is a marketing group that ties these dealerships together, said Bob vanVollenhoven, executive director of BDA.

Boater’s Edge, which officially launched yesterday, has been in the works for more than two years.

“There’s opportunities in any economy. There’s still business to be had. This group has been together so long, this has been in the works for quite a while and we had our time frame to launch June 1 for the model year,” vanVollenhoven told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

“The (dealers) are industry certified, over 50 percent are in the Top 100, so they feel the strength is having a national presence will solidify the group,” he added.

Boater’s Edge dealers are located in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

The dealers represent nearly 70 brands of boats.

“There are different boating needs in different parts of the country,” said Mike Hebert, owner of Texas Marine and president of the Boater’s Edge group, in a statement. “We feel one of the challenges that the bigger conglomerates have come up against is a more limited product offering. Because our members are not tied to one manufacturer, we believe this will be an advantage for the group.”

Priority service, bow-to-stern extended service contracts, certified pre-owned extended warranty, competitive retail financing and learn how-to-boat seminars are highlights of the Boater’s Edge concept.

Hands-on dealers, who are tied to the community, are what consumers will find at Boater’s Edge dealers, vanVollenhoven said.

“Obviously, customer service to them is their first, best practice,” he said.

The group’s Web site, www.boatersedge.com will help consumers locate Boater’s Edge dealers, offer a comprehensive used-boat listing site and feature a social network for boaters to share destinations and boating tips. The site is expected to be updated in phases.

For information, visit the Web site or call (803) 932-2463.

— Beth Rosenberg
b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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