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Midwest dealer closing stores, shedding jobs

Midwest boat dealer Crystal-Pierz Marine is closing half its 12 stores and laying off two-thirds of its employees in reaction to the “softest marine market in more than 40 years.”

The Minneapolis-based company announced Friday it will close the stores and lay off about 100 employees. Cuts in the parts and service department were effective immediately, while sales positions will be eliminated following a liquidation sale.

“To be blunt and honest, this really sucks,” Crystal-Pierz president Luke Kujawa said in a statement issued last week.

“It’s always frustrating and challenging when you have to tell people you’re laying them off,” Kujawa told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

However, he was more upbeat as he talked about the liquidation sale.

“We’re kind of playing it up bigger than it is so we can liquidate some inventory,” he said. “We’ve having a heck of a sale right now.

“The market has been declining for the last three or four years,” he continued. “We wanted to make the right decision while there’s still time to do a summer liquidation sale.

“We’re just trying to reduce overhead and reduce inventory,” said Kujawa.

The company is planning to close stores in the following locations: Rogers, Minn.; Forest Lake, Minn.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Duluth, Minn.; Lake Mille Lacs in Mille Lacs, Minn.; and Clear Lake, Iowa.

Kujawa noted that the Forest Lake and Mille Lacs locations are only seasonal sales offices that opened in the spring and were slated to close anyway.

“They did what we needed them to do,” he said.

The Rogers store was also a fairly recent location, opening about two-and-a-half years ago. Kujawa said this was Crystal-Pierz’s largest volume store, but it’s in a high overhead area, with taxes of more than $110,000 a year.

“This industry is all about overhead and inventory,” he said, noting that he is trying to liquidate more than 700 boats in a sale slated to last the next three weeks.

“We’re offering financing options and asking folks to make us an offer,” said Kujawa. “We need to move these boats, parts and accessories and hoping customers will take advantage of the opportunity.”

- Melanie Winters
m.winters@tradeonlytoday.com

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