Back in 2011, when Phil Keeter retired as Executive Director of the MRAA, I felt it was a big loss to the industry. Phil had served in that position for 22 years—from 1989 until 2011. As MRAA’s Executive Director, Phil brought so much to the industry, especially for dealers. Prior to 1989, Phil owned a successful boat and motor dealership called Romer Marine. Having been a successful dealer himself, he fully understood the pressures and problems constantly facing marine retailers. Over the years he did much to significantly grow the association into the major factor that it is in the industry today, and its standing in the industry has improved the overall status of dealers and how they are now treated by manufacturers.
I recently wrote an article on Phil Keeter and his career in the marine industry that was published in Soundings Trade Only. It was fun to do a couple of interviews with Phil in preparation for the article. Our friendship goes back to the 1980’s when I was head of outboard sales for OMC and Phil Keeter, Romer Marine, was on our dealer council. He kept us on our toes at dealer council meetings. Continue reading A tribute to Phil Keeter→
My article about Pack and Paxson St. Clair and Cobalt Boats in the May issue of Soundings Trade Only was a real pleasure to write. I have known Pack for many years and seen him at numerous boat shows and NMMA conventions. We had a fun and rather lengthy interview on the phone before writing the article. There is no doubt that Pack is a real gentleman. And he is another amazing and innovative entrepreneur in the boating industry. Starting his boat building business with a small business loan, Pack built it in to one of the top brands in the industry. And now his son Paxson is taking the brand forward with the introduction of an innovative, top of the line pontoon boat.
But Pack’s innovation and entrepreneurship didn’t stop with Cobalt Boats. He then successfully got in the California wine business with…that’s right…his Cobalt wine. And as you can see from this pic, Pack and wife Jill enjoy their Cobalt wine. He sent me a couple of bottles of Cobalt wine that my wife and I enjoyed. On the bottle it reads, “A shared passion for excellence and quality brought together an esteemed boat-builder, Pack St. Clair, and a respected vintner, Steve Sherwin. One afternoon in the cellar over a glass of red wine, they decided to create something special for you to enjoy.” And you will enjoy it. Continue reading Cobalt – First Boats, then Wine→
As a Yankee, Snowbird, Northerner, or whatever I might be called as a result of my Midwestern roots, I heard the term “Southern Gentleman” from time to time. When I was stationed at Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Georgia, I began to understand what that meant. I had a neighbor who I came to regard as a real Southern Gentleman. I consider the four generations of the Huggins family of Huggins Outboard in Albany, Georgia to be the epitomes of Southern Gentlemen.
I did not have the honor of meeting Frank Huggins who started the family business in 1941 while also holding down a full time job. He had the entrepreneurial spirit to start Huggins Outboard in a dirt floor garage with galvanized tin siding. He passed away in early 1979. However, I have had the good fortune know the second generation of Huggins Outboard entrepreneurs, Bill Huggins, for many years. In fact, Bill was a key member of my dealer council for a while when I was head of outboard sales for OMC.
I was saddened when Bill called me a few months ago to tell me that his son Richard had died from bladder cancer. But when he told me that Richard’s son, the fourth generation, was coming to Huggins Outboard to take over the dealership, I was moved to write an article for Soundings Trade Only about this remarkable family. Richard’s son Matthew Huggins, a CPA, recently resigned from Draffin & Tucker, a corporate accounting firm, to become the fourth generation to head up Huggins Outboard. And Matthew has the good fortune of having his grandpa Bill Huggins to coach him as he takes over running the business.
Click to read the full story that I wrote about the four generations of Huggins Outboard, “Profit is Not a Dirty Word” in case you didn’t see it in the September 2014 issue of Soundings Trade Only. (Reprinted with permission from Soundings Trade Only.)