Former Crystal-Pierz head starts a new venture

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Luke Kujawa, former Crystal-Pierz Marine president and COO, may have sold the majority of his Midwest dealerships, but that doesn't mean the longtime industry veteran is leaving the boat business.

In an interview with Soundings Trade Only, Kujawa said he's recently started a new venture called EOF Opportunity. It is a management company that provides immediate liquidity to upper Midwest marine dealers, floorplan entities and manufacturers who, because of the tough economic times, find themselves in distressed situations.

Kujawa said his dealerships had been going through a restructuring process for the last few years and during that time it became obvious to him that "there would seem to be an abnormal amount of cash on the sidelines right now."

There are dealers and manufacturers out there running good businesses, but caught up in economic problems that are no fault of their own, he said.

"They run a good business, but there's nowhere to turn right now," Kujawa said. "There's no cash, there's no lending, they're just trapped or they feel trapped and we really want to reach out to them. We're in a unique position to be able to provide liquidity to people who find themselves backed into a corner."

Kujawa said the decision to sell the majority of his family's remaining dealerships was not something he actively pursued, but came about through circumstance.

Crystal-Pierz, which sold Glastron, Bennington and Triton boats, was looking at adding Tracker to the mix.

"We thought they had a lot to offer, but as we were going down that path, with the challenge of finding floorplan and everything, they said 'Well, would you be interested in selling?' " Kujawa said. "Things just fell into place where we had a willing buyer and a willing seller."

The deal was finalized at the end of December.

Tracker Marine purchased five dealerships, leaving one dealership in Walker, Minn., and a marina property to Kujawa's family.

Tracker Marine also did not purchase Crystal-Pierz's "dozens of boats and related equipment," Kujawa said. Those will be liquidated.

The Tracker Marine Group, which includes Tracker, Mako and Tahoe, sells its boats at more than 50 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Center locations throughout North America and at hundreds of independent dealers worldwide.

In July 2008, Crystal-Pierz Marine announced it was closing half of its 12 stores and laying off two-thirds of its employees.

At that time, the company closed stores in Rogers, Minn.; Forest Lake, Minn.; St. Cloud, Minn.; Duluth, Minn.; Lake Mille Lacs in Mille Lacs, Minn.; and Clear Lake, Iowa.

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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