About 20 years ago, I sat next to Bill McGill, the founder and president of MarineMax, at a black-tie dinner in Rimini, on the Atlantic coast of Italy, a gorgeous seaside resort often seen in Fellini movies. We were at a Ferretti Yachts presentation, and McGill, who had just started MarineMax in 1998, was in an expansive mood.
From its headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax has indeed grown during the intervening years. It is now the largest boat retailer in the world, with 77 dealers at 100 locations. This week MarineMax got even bigger: It just bought Cruisers Yachts in Oconto, Wisconsin, from KCS International for $63 million. Cruisers, which makes boats from 33 to 60 feet, reported revenue of more than $75 million last year. And it bought the former Carver/Marquis factory in nearby Pulaski earlier this year, giving it room for major expansion.
“The strategic acquisition of Cruisers Yachts benefits our customers by filling a meaningful void in our product portfolio, which was created in 2018 by the loss of Sea Ray sport yacht and sport yacht models,” said Brett McGill, who succeeded his father as president CEO of MarineMax in 2018. “The acquisition also aligns with our long-term strategy of expanding our gross margins by adding a higher-margin business.”
He added that, “MarineMax’s acquisition of Cruisers Yachts ensures it will always have a premium, American-built yacht in its product portfolio.”
The brands that MarineMax now sells include Aquila (made in China), Boston Whaler, Galeon (Poland), Ocean Alexander (Taiwan), and smaller Sea Rays. It also runs MarineMax Vacations, a charter business in the British Virgin Islands (see picture at top), and finance and insurance operations. It is the largest provider of superyacht services, owning Fraser Yachts and Northrop and Johnson with 27 locations around the world.
With the purchase of Cruisers, MarineMax has created a vertical integration from boatbuilder to retail showroom to a local marina, all owned by the same company. MarineMax is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol HZO.
At the end of March last year, in the depth of the Covid-19 economic crisis, MarineMax stock was selling at about $8. It then shot up during the boating boom, as people bought new and used boats as a way to get outside and enjoy themselves during the pandemic. This week MarineMax was trading at the $62 level.
For its part, Carver was purchased for an undisclosed sum by KC Stock, a local builder and businessman, in 1993. He ran Carver as part of the privately-held KCS International. Read more: