Russell Marine operates four marinas on Lake Martin, including Ridge Marina, pictured above. | Kenneth Boone
Russell Marine operates four marinas on Lake Martin, including Ridge Marina, pictured above. | Kenneth Boone

Archived Story

Russell Marine throttles up to No. 6

Published 8:09pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Russell Marine Nov. 20 brought home the Best Boat Show Strategy award and placed sixth in the nation at Boating Industry’s annual Top-100 gala held this week in Orlando, Fla.

“This was our best finish ever,” said Dave Commander, president of Russell Marine. “We want to congratulate our employees. They are the ones who are doing all the hard work to be one of the best in country.”

Commander said he was pleased but not necessarily surprised to place well among the top boat dealers in the country.

“I think we’re really number one,” he told us as he drove back to Alexander City Thursday morning, having caught an early flight home following the weeklong conference in Orlando.

“This is the first year they have given that award,” he noted. “Boating Industry is the leading magazine in the boat trade, and for nine years they have rated the top 100 dealers in North America.”

Commander said the innovative boat show strategy for which the award was presented was driven by a downturn in the economy, combined with a seasonal market slump.

“Boat dealers at marinas don’t do a lot of business in the winter,” he explained. “We build relationships with our customers, so we get a lot of repeat business, but we realized that if we wanted new customers, we had to get out and take the boats to them.”

For four months of the year, Commander said, Russell Marine takes to the road with as many as 20 boats and eight personal watercraft.

“It starts with the Birmingham boat show in January,” he said. “And then, we’ll take boats to a shopping center or a big store. We were at The Summit last year. We really are selling fun. That’s what it’s about, so we try to wow the public with a festive atmosphere and nice equipment, nice boats.”

The strategy, he said, seems to be working, because the company does better in the ratings every year.

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