Just Keep Boating
Posted by Theresa Tanner on May 29, 2018, 6 a.m.
Hagadone Marine Group celebrated the grand opening of its new service center at Blackwell Island on Lake Coeur d’Alene in August last year, drawing over 1,200 members of the boating industry and community. This year will be the first start of boating season for the organization following a 3-year renovation project.
Hagadone Marine Group President Craig Brosenne says the start of the season will be the “real test” of the new facility, as his team prepares to service 2,000 boats by Independence Day. “Everything has to be perfect.”
Inspired by Toyota’s service system, the Hagadone Marine Center was designed to enhance the customer experience and streamline efficiency between departments to get boaters on the water as quickly as possible, whether buying a new boat, fueling up at the gas dock or replacing broken parts.
“Sales sells one boat; service sells the second,” Brosenne said.
As the largest on-water dealership in the area, HMG enjoys the many benefits of its lakefront location.
The opportunity for potential buyers to test drive boats on Lake Coeur d’Alene is a huge advantage, as customers literally get to see themselves on the lake.
They have over 300 boats in stock from a range of makers, including premium brands like Malibu, Axis, Chris-Craft, Regal, Cobalt and Harris Pontoons.
Customers can also select custom features to design their dream boat. They can meet with sales representatives in a conference room and pull up all the options available on a flat screen TV.
“They can get a feel for it on the water, then pick out the exact features and custom colors they want,” said Brosenne.
Unlike a car purchase, buying a boat isn’t stressful for most people, he adds, and most customers have a good idea of what they want when they arrive. Sales staff is also equipped to ask open-ended questions to help those that are still searching for the perfect boat for their lifestyle.
“For the past 13 years, we’ve been in the Top 100 dealers nationwide every year we’ve applied and most recently ranked number 18 – that’s big for a community of our size. We always shoot for number 1 and hope to be in the Top 10 in 2019,” he said.
The sales office is designed with service counters as islands, rather than a long counter to separate customers and staff, and double computer screens so customers are more involved in the process. It also houses the Pro Shop with the largest selection in the area of wakeboards, surfboards and other watersports equipment.
On the service end, the new facility includes 50,000 square feet of workspace and 36 maintenance bays, as well as a 3,600-square-foot, environmentally-sound wash bay with a 40,000-lb. crane. Premium boat services include hull cleaning, buffing and waxing, engine and drive maintenance,
painting and fiberglass restoration.
Approximately $1 million in repair parts are kept on site with a meticulous inventory system, alongside a library of manuals and catalogues with information about older boats that may be difficult to track down with online resources or contemporary databases.
“We service every brand, model and size of boat, so we keep as many different replacement parts as we can on hand to keep people boating,” Brosenne said.
The renovated facility also allowed HMG to consolidate two companies, Resort Boat Shop and Coeur d’Alene Custom Wood Boats, and bring them onsite. People send their boats from across the country for restoration.
With such a wide range of services and tasks – and high expectations of staff performance – extra measures were taken in the renovation to create an optimal work environment for employees.
“It’s a tough job being a technician in the heat of summer. Taking care of our employees is really important,” said Brosenne as he led a tour through a 40-person staff break room with adjacent locker and changing rooms. “We added windows to the buildings to bring in natural light, which really adds to the quality of a work environment for employees.”
Unlike some in the boating industry, HMG stays busy year-round, with wintertime storage services and management of three Lake Coeur d’Alene marinas with over 1,000 boat slips between them.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a passion and culture,” Brosenne said. “Our parent company is hospitality driven. Every single person is important to us. Our company mission is to provide every boater with the very best ‘O.W.E.’ – On Water Experience.”
HMG offers a Quick Launch service for day boaters without slips. With two hours notice, staff will retrieve a boat from dry storage, fuel and launch it. Brosenne is looking into adding a similar Sky Launch program, which stores boats in a stack structure and removes them with a fork lift.
They are also considering founding a boat club, which would allow individuals to own a boat together, and enjoy use during scheduled time. At a fraction of the cost and investment of full-time boat ownership, “it’s a great way to get younger people into boating,” Brosenne said, although those who enjoy it will often end up buying a boat of their own.
“If you’re in North Idaho, you gotta have a boat,” Brosenne said. “It’s a way of life.”
Which Boats Stand Out In 2018?
Good Time Versatility
Looking for an affordable option with lots of seats for your party? Want to switch from a relaxing morning of fishing to some raucous water toy action? “Pontoon boats are huge right now,” said Brosenne.
If you’re looking for “a buttery soft ride on rough lakes,” Brosenne can’t say enough about the quality of Cobalt boats. The company revolutionized surf boats in a sterndrive market with their Volvo Forward Drive system, positioned under the boat to allow for safe wakesurfing.
Brosenne says they’re seeing the biggest segment growth in Malibu towboats. “They have so much tech built in, it can be overwhelming. But consumers love it.” From digital dashboards and surf systems to mega speakers, the fun doesn’t slow down – just how adventure seekers like it.
Elegance and timeless beauty define all Chris-Craft models, but their true value is in the lifelong, family memories you’ll make. With plenty of storage and seating, just add good company for a day of fun on the lake.