Weekly What If: What If We Consolidate On Our Own?

The Weekly What If...Chronicling companies that transformed their business by Exploring What if 

Today’s biggest boat retailer was organized around this What If

Today, Marine Max is America’ largest boating and yachting retailer with over 50 locations in 19 states.   In 2004, I interviewed company, CEO and Chairman Bill McGill and was surprised to learn more about their history.  Mr. McGill, an engineer by background, owned and ran a successful single location boat dealership in St. Petersburg Florida. In 1997, Mr. McGill and a handful of other successful dealers were approached by a private equity firm that pitched the idea of consolidating their dealerships into a single company then going public.  This strategy would likely provide them a higher valuation as a public company and the opportunity for owners to get liquidity with public stock.  Also, a consolidation would allow the businesses to develop new services and coordinated offerings that would be enticing to its boating lifestyle customers.  As talks progressed however, it became apparent that the private equity’s interest in the future valuation of the business was starting to outweigh the owner’s desire to build a business with more attractive product and service offering.  

Taking matters into their own hands, the owners then explored a new direction. What if, we consolidate and go public on our own and that’s exactly what they did, when Marine Max debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in June 1998.  Today, Marine Max is America’s largest boat retailer and he credits part of their success in the face of challenging economies and aggressive competition to their continued focus on the needs of the customers and a long term strategy of building a quality organization over by a quick monetary gain.   

(Source: interview with CEO and Company website)

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