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Industry mourns longtime Michigan dealer

MBIA Hall of Fame inductee Greg Krueger died suddenly of a heart attack on April 25. He was 67.
Mark M. Gaskill

Mark M. Gaskill

Michigan Boating Industries Association Hall of Fame inductee and owner of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales Greg Krueger died suddenly of a heart attack on April 25. He was 67.

Krueger, a boating industry icon in the Great Lakes, was very healthy and did not have heart disease. He died suddenly in a rare heart attack case while working on his boat, which he was preparing for launch.

“He was a phenomenal guy and a great leader,” said Norm Schultz, former longtime president of the Lake Erie Marine Trade Association and 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. He was really well known in the Great Lakes. He was a quintessential gentleman.”

Krueger was a strong supporter of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, as well as the association’s Recreational Boating Industries Educational Foundation, MBIA executive director Nicki Polan told Trade Only Today.

“He was a character, full of passion and positive attitude,” Polan said in an email. “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.”

Krueger’s family has chosen the boating foundation (RBIEF) that he started for those who would like to make contributions in his name, she said.

Krueger was the MBIA’s longest-serving board member, serving for 25 years, beginning in 1983, Polan said. He served as board chairman in 1994-95.

Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, a Viking, Sunseeker, Princess and Duffy dealership and yacht broker, has six locations around the Great Lakes. JBYS is the oldest Viking Yachts dealer in the world, the oldest Sunseeker dealer in the United States and among the oldest Princess dealers in the nation, according to Krueger’s obituary.

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

Prior to kicking 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 that the boating business was too important not to have specific courses for him and many other future business people in Michigan.

He was inducted into the MBIA Hall of Fame in 2011. During the presentation of the award 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 very 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, even captaining the Harsens Island Ferry.

As a teenager he was in charge of houseboat rentals for Sunset Marina. He later oversaw outboard motor 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, Greg pursued boatbuilding. He started building center consoles in 1982 and formed American International, which later sold to Genmar Industries.

“He was a profound man with a vibrant spirit,” Amy L. Krueger Malow, president at Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, told Trade Only. “He deeply touched many, many people. He leaves behind a stellar team of passionate big-boat experts who will continue to blaze the Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales torch, delivering quality, integrity and exceptional customer care.”

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