I have been involved in the marine industry for more than 25 years, starting by working for Bombardier Capital in the mid-1980s. Our main focus was providing floorplan assistance for recreational and marine dealers. I was the district manager for a designated portion of Ontario, Canada.
My dealer base was positive and respectful to me, and some manufacturer’s reps recommended that I consider a career in marine sales.
I knew this was a rewarding business, and because of my industry experience it would be a somewhat easy transition to make. In 2003 I was approached by Roger Belongia and Gordon Brown III in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Brown family had purchased MirroCraft, and they were looking to expand into the Canadian market. Until 2003 MirroCraft had been distributed through a Canadian distributor.
They wanted me to be the sales manager for all of Canada. I gladly accepted their offer. I must say it was challenging because MirroCraft was not a household name in Canada, but I knew the quality of the boat was second to none, and through the people I knew from working at Bombardier Capital, I would have a good start.
My new job focused mainly on Ontario and Quebec, where I would represent MirroCraft, Weeres and Palm Beach pontoons. I initially did exceptionally well, grabbing market share quickly in both provinces.
I knew that if I were going to grow the business, I would need the support of the engine manufacturers. I quickly developed a good working relationship with both BRP and Mercury. The engine reps were good friends of mine. We worked in tandem, and I am glad to say the relationships exist to this day.
In 2008 a recession hit the world economies, but fortunately for Canada, we seemed to maintain strong growth targets and our sales remained strong. MirroCraft kept up with our customers’ expectations, changing the product mix to meet customer demands. Unlike the United States, Canada did well and I enjoyed some of my best years in growth and demand for our product.
With the Great Recession well under way, it was evident that some businesses would be forced to reassess their situation. In 2012 Clearwater Marine was sold to four plant employees, and Northport Marine LLC was created. Along with the MirroCraft line, Montego Bay was eventually born.
In just three years I have seen the business grow exponentially in the United States and Canada. The quality and workmanship of our boats has translated to our new pontoon line.
I see the future of the marine business in Canada — specifically, a bright future — and I look forward to being a part of it.
George Baldan, of Sudbury, Ontario, is the eastern Canadian sales manager for Northport Marine LLC,the manufacturer of MirroCraft Boats and Montego Bay pontoons.