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Great Lakes industry mourns Greg Krueger

Longtime dealer with six sales outlets had earned induction into Michigan trade group’s hall of fame
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Greg Krueger, a Michigan Boating Industries Association Hall of Fame inductee and the owner of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on April 25. He was 67.

Friends say Krueger, a boating industry icon in the Great Lakes, seemed healthy and had showed no signs of heart disease. He died while working on his boat, which he was preparing for launch.

“He was a phenomenal guy and a great leader,” says Norm Schultz, former longtime president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and a Trade Only Today blogger. “He was always committed to the industry and served on all kinds of boards. I have nothing but good things to say about him. He was very highly regarded … a quintessential gentleman.”

Krueger was a strong supporter of the Michigan Boating Industries Association and co-founded its Recreational Boating Industries Educational Foundation, says MBIA executive director Nicki Polan.

“He was a character, full of passion and positive attitude,” she says. “He was fun, kind and genuinely cared about people. He actually got up on the table at the board meeting to show his enthusiasm for giving back to education, and this was the start of our education foundation.”

For those who would like to make a contribution in his name, Krueger’s family has chosen the boating foundation (RBIEF) he started. Krueger was the MBIA’s longest-serving board member, holding his seat for 25 years, beginning in 1983, Polan says. He was board chairman in 1994-95.

Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, a Viking, Sunseeker, Princess and Duffy dealership and yacht brokerage, has six locations around the Great Lakes. JBYS is the oldest Viking dealer in the world, the oldest Sunseeker dealer in the United States and among the oldest Princess dealers in the nation.

Krueger started his professional career at age 23 at Jefferson Beach Marina, a large marina and boat dealership in St. Clair Shores on what is known as the Nautical Mile in southeast Michigan.

Before he kicked off his professional career, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Wayne State University. He persuaded university officials to create a special recreational boating curriculum for him because he believed the boating business was too important not to have specific courses offered for it.

He was inducted into the MBIA Hall of Fame in 2011. During the presentation by Eric Foster and Steve Remias, Krueger’s motto was noted: “The course I’ve charted is simple; boating is not just my business, it’s my life.”

He enjoyed his first boat at age 5 and was operating his own outboard by the age of 6. He spent much of his youth working in the industry, doing the things many industry veterans have done, such as washing, detailing and running boats, overseeing boatyards, and in his case, captaining the Harsens Island Ferry.

As a teenager Krueger was in charge of houseboat rentals at Sunset Marina. He later oversaw outboard repairs for Krueger’s Boats and Motors, which was owned and operated by his grandparents, along with his father, Peer Krueger. In addition to sales, Krueger pursued boatbuilding. He started building center consoles in 1982 and formed American International, which was later sold to Genmar Industries.

Nick Bischoff, vice president of sales and marketing at Sunseeker Yachts, commented on the online Trade Only Today report of Krueger’s death, saying he and Krueger had met in 1991 when Bischoff was representing Boston Whaler at Excel Marine in St. Clair Shores.

“I later reconnected with Greg when I joined Sunseeker,” Bischoff says. “He was the consummate gentleman and professional. Always outspoken, he made all his builders better by speaking up about the issues he faced as a dealer. We had no choice but to listen! We loved his enthusiasm for the business and for the Sunseeker brand, and our people in Poole loved Greg. Greg was the ultimate customer advocate and truly was one of the good guys. Greg was a survivor and one of the most determined businessmen I have ever had the pleasure of working with. My thoughts are with his family — Judy, Amy and Erik and the entire Krueger extended family — and the Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales family. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.”

“He was a profound man with a vibrant spirit,” says his daughter, Amy Krueger Malow, president of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales. “He deeply touched many, many people.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.

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