Marina Sales from the Buyer’s Perspective

Just as boat sales are reaching record high levels, marina sales are also riding the wave of the growing popularity of boating during the pandemic. The past year saw national and regional firms growing their portfolios and first-time buyers entering the marina space.

After a reorganization in 2021, Southern Marinas is once again quickly building a portfolio beyond the boundaries indicated by its name. “While our name implies that our focus is the Southern part of the country, from inception, we have explored owning marinas throughout the U.S.,” said Southern Marinas principal Gary Rosmarin. “Early on, we were fortunate to be able to cluster a number of marinas in a relatively small geographic footprint. In today’s competitive environment, we are underwriting potential acquisitions in all areas of the country. We are looking in any area where there is a best-in-class marina that fits within our acquisition criteria.”

TopSide Marinas is a new marina group that acquired its first two marinas in 2021. “It is very exciting to see the boating industry regain the attention and enthusiasm that it once had and has always deserved,” said Stephen Lehn, co-founder of TopSide Marinas. “Our industry will achieve sustained growth if it continues to focus on innovation, providing boaters with better access to products and services, and facilitating great experiences for all.”

Lehn said the strong interest in purchasing a boat or joining a boat club is a positive trend for the industry. “Both the growth of new boat sales and Brunswick’s Freedom Boat Club membership base has been quite impressive and encouraging. Each boat club member is a prospective boat owner, which helps keep marinas full today and in the future.”

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Although TopSide is a new company, Lehn and co-founder Jacob Boan grew up boating with their families and both previously worked at Suntex Marina Investors.

Marina Dock Age asked these companies’ leaders to share their visions for continued growth and what makes a good marina acquisition for their companies.

What is driving your company’s growth?
Gary Rosmarin, Southern Marinas: The marina industry, in general, continues to outperform other real estate sectors, and that, coupled with willing sellers, is a formula for growth. Additionally, we have an outstanding financial partner who is supporting our growth plans with ready capital to deploy as we uncover strategically well-located marinas to acquire throughout the U.S.

Stephen Lehn, TopSide Marinas: Our team is passionate about this industry, we know it well, we are well supported financially, and we believe that this is a great time for marina owners looking to transition at the height of this boom of growth that we are all experiencing within the industry, while also allowing a new owner such as ourselves the ability to invest in and grow the business in the future as well.

What makes a marina an attractive buy for your company?
Rosmarin, Southern Marinas: First, we look at the market – is this a place where we want to be, and can we establish a regional presence there if we are not already in that market. Second, we look at the physical plant – does it fit our definition of “best-in-class” and does it provide a variety of services and amenities for the members. Third, we look to see if we can establish a connected community of boaters with an emphasis on families. We want to be able to provide our members with more than just a place to store a boat. We weigh all these factors and decide whether to pursue the acquisition.

Lehn, TopSide Marinas: We target marinas that are located in and supported by outstanding communities with membership bases made up of avid and passionate boaters. We find it very attractive when we can partner with marina owners who have taken great care of their marinas.  Each marina is unique, and we work very hard to learn its business, identify ways to expand the membership base through slip expansion and renovation, invest in facility enhancements, take great care of the property’s team members by providing excellent health care coverage, and supporting a hospitable culture.

What are your goals for 2022:
Rosmarin, Southern Marinas: Our goals are more qualitative than quantitative, and we are looking for measured growth in 2022. We plan to continue to build the platform with quality assets, and we are fortunate to have sufficient resources to be able to acquire any singular asset or portfolio of properties that fit our acquisition criteria.

Lehn, TopSide Marinas: We plan to triple the number of marinas within our platform in 2022 by continuing to build relationships and partner with passionate marina owners who are looking to transition their business to a like-minded, family-owned marina owner and operator in TopSide Marinas.