BREAKING: OneWater to Acquire Denison Yachting

OneWater Marine today announced it reached an agreement to acquire Denison Yachting.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bob Denison and his team into the OneWater family, which expands and strengthens our presence in the superyacht and yacht categories,” OneWater CEO Austin Singleton said in a statement. “As we move through the second fiscal quarter, we continue to capitalize on record demand and a growing backlog.

“Orders at the Miami boat show were off the charts for both OneWater and Denison, which underscores our combined position as the premier marine retailer of choice, from superyachts and yachts to traditional boat sales, parts and service,” Singleton added.

OneWater operates 75 retail locations and 10 distribution centers, and maintains an online marketplace.

Denison Yachting has 21 offices in the United States and in 2021 reported more than $80 million in sales. It is a dealer for such brands as Alpha Yachts, Beneteau Power (Monte Carlo, Gran Turismo, Swift Trawler), Beneteau Sail, Numarine, Dufour, Van der Valk Yachts and Excess Catamarans. The company also provides charter management services and has a substantial brokerage network with a focus on superyachts.

“Strong consumer demand continues to fuel our growth and strengthens our position as industry leaders throughout the United States, Europe and the Mediterranean,” Bob Denison said in a statement. “Denison’s team of experienced yacht brokers is unparalleled in the world of yachting. Their commitment to take incredible care of clients will be accelerated thanks to OneWater’s tools, resources and support.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fiscal third quarter.

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Power Lodge Acquires Miller Marine

Marine and powersports dealer Power Lodge acquired Miller Marine in St. Cloud, Minn. Power Lodge owner Tom Dehn announced the sale in a statement.

Miller Marine is the world’s largest seller of high-performance Bennington pontoons and is one of the largest single-point boat dealerships, the statement said. It was once named the No. 1 Yamaha outboard dealer in the nation.

Dehn said the dealership will continue to offer the Bennington brand and will retain the entire Miller Marine staff.

Power Lodge now has four locations in Minnesota and one in southwestern Florida.

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TopSide Marinas Acquires Texas Yacht Club

TopSide Marinas has acquired North Point Yacht Club on Lake Belton in Texas.

TopSide plans to invest in the Temple, Tex., marina by adding more than 70 wet slips, TopSide cofounder Jacob Boan said Tuesday in a statement. The property, previously owned by the Brashear family, is TopSide’s third marina.

“The Brashear family has always wanted to make a positive impact on the community, and we believe that TopSide Marinas will help continue that legacy,” Price Brashear said in the same statement.

“We are excited to take the baton from Price and continue to provide an outstanding boating experience for all members of North Point,” said Stephen Lehn, another cofounder of TopSide Marinas.

TopSide acquired two marinas in 2021: Beavers Bend Marina on Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma and Galveston Yacht Marina in Galveston, Tex. The company said it plans to continue acquiring marinas and will consider all opportunities within the United States, including properties located on lakes, rivers and along the coast.

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Trident Acquires Chesapeake Marinas

Trident Marine Group announced that it merged with Coastal Properties Management, adding six Chesapeake Bay marinas to the management company’s portfolio.

Trident already manages Nabbs Creek Marina & Yacht Yard, Chesapeake Harbour Marina and Annapolis Maryland Capital Yacht Club. The deal will add Coastal Properties’ Bowley’s Marina, Diamond Teague Piers, Piney Narrows Yacht Haven, Fort Washington Marina, Belmont Bay Harbor and Little Creek Marina.

“Trident Marine Group remains focused on delivering exceptional customer service to our clients, who are both marina owners and slip holders,” Trident CEO Jeremy Parks said in a statement. “With the addition of new clients, we aim to maintain the individuality and uniqueness of the marinas we serve while making sure current best practices are in place.”

Parks and COO Marie Carbone will remain in their roles, and Trident added that little will change with day-to-day operations. Coastal Properties’ Bruce Wagner will assume the role of vice president of maritime operations at Trident.

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Suntex Acquires The Wharf

Suntex Marina Investors last week announced that it acquired The Wharf, a marina in Marathon, Fla., in the Keys. The company plans an extensive renovation of the property, which it plans to relaunch as Ocean View Marina.

“In just the short year that we’ve owned Faro Blanco, we’ve seen the incredible draw of this region, and when we got the opportunity to acquire the facility a mile down the road, we had to take it,” Suntex Marinas investments partner David Filler said in a statement. “We are looking forward to taking the reins and completing the construction.”

In addition to The Wharf and Faro Blanco, the company owns two other marinas in the Keys: Caloosa Cove and Garrison Bight.

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Suntex Marinas Acquires Key West Facility

Suntex Marinas yesterday announced the acquisition of Garrison Bight Marina in Key West, Fla.

The marina has 20 wet slips and 213 dry slips and is located near hotels, restaurants and shopping. Suntex said it is the only full-service marina on the island with dry storage facilities. Amenities include a fuel dock, ship’s store, service department and a Thai restaurant with a deck overlooking the marina.

“This purchase provides Suntex with an excellent opportunity to expand upon our holdings in the Florida Keys and our footprint in the South Florida market,” investment partner David Filler said in a statement. “We are committed to offering our guests a best-in-class experience, and Garrison Bight has incredible potential.”

Filler added that Suntex will make a “significant investment in upgrades” to the marina.

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Suntex Acquires Lynn Creek Marina

The Grand Prairie, Texas, facility is the latest addition to Suntex’s U.S. marina holdings.

Suntex Marina Investors announced yesterday that it purchased Lynn Creek Marina on Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie, Texas.

“We are excited to take over a staple on Joe Pool Lake in the heart of the southern Dallas suburbs,” Suntex Marinas vice president of operations Michael Warntjes said in a statement. “We are confident that Lynn Creek will be an excellent reflection of the Suntex experience when completed.”

The marina opened in July 1990 and, after two expansions, comprises 528 slips that can accommodate boats to 50 feet, 116 dry storage stacks for boats to 28 feet, a ship’s store, rental boat fleet, fuel dock, service center, a 450-seat restaurant and a 97-passenger excursion vessel.

“We anticipate infusing some immediate capital to improve the amenities and security for guests, while focusing on long-term development of the entire property,” Warntjes added.

Suntex said it is working with the city of Grand Prairie to revitalize the marina to bring more visitors to Joe Pool Lake.

“Our team is ecstatic to be partnering with the city of Grand Prairie to make Lynn Creek Marina a best-in-class waterfront experience and help bring Joe Pool Lake back into the destination lake the city would like to see for its community,” said Bryan Redmond, CEO, Suntex Marinas. “We love the vision the city and its staff have set forth and are proud to be a part of helping to execute that vision.”

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Top Marina Management Firms Join Forces

Suntex Marina Investors, LLC  announced its transaction to join forces with established marina management company, Westrec Marinas.

One of the world’s largest owner-operators of marinas and marine-related businesses, Westrec Marinas provides professional management services to its properties, affiliates, and clients. Founded in 1987, Westrec owns and manages marina facilities located both in fresh and salt-water environments, handling vessels ranging in size from personal watercraft to megayachts. Management strategies unique to Westrec have been incorporated into its corporate philosophy throughout Westrec’s history. Customer service, its most important product, has remained a core company value since day one.

“Years ago, we realized the many synergies between Westrec Marinas and Suntex,” said Bryan Redmond, CEO, Suntex Marinas. “Westrec Marinas’ vision of offering the best in customer service and amenities, along with a memorable experience out on the water, aligns perfectly with our vision. The most rewarding part of this merger is knowing we now have added another whole network of marinas who share our core values and together we are poised for a fantastic future.”

“We pride ourselves on having the most comprehensive and experienced marina operating team in the business,” said Bill Anderson, president, Westrec Marinas. “Suntex brings significant innovations and more streamlined tools and processes for daily operations. In addition, they have meaningful reporting and financial forecasting with real-time data, a more established communication, and marketing effort, as well as additional capital to invest in repair and maintenance and capital expenditures for major projects at our current marinas. Together we have an unlimited opportunity to grow and prosper.”

“Our Suntex team could not be more encouraged regarding our partnership with Westrec,” said Johnny Powers, chairman of the board, Suntex Marinas. “Westrec’s decision to combine forces with Suntex is proof that relationships, culture, and integrity are paramount.”

“Since partnering with Suntex in March 2021, we have worked to help accelerate the Company’s continued growth,” said William Rahm, senior managing director and head of real estate at Centerbridge Partners and director on Suntex’s Board. “This transaction brings together two leading teams and businesses in the marina sector, where we continue to see significant growth opportunities to serve the increasing demand for boating and leisure activities.”

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Marina Business Gets Lift From Pandemic Boat Sales

Real-estate investor Centerbridge is combining the second- and third-largest marina owners to create a $2.5 billion company.

The second-largest owner of U.S. marinas is acquiring the third-largest owner, creating a new powerhouse in this niche real-estate business as boat sales surge during the pandemic.

Centerbridge Partners LP said it is paying about $400 million for Westrec Marinas, which the investment firm will absorb into its own Suntex Marinas. That will create a combined company with more than 50 marinas that is valued at $2.5 billion, making it the second-highest-valued U.S. marina owner after Safe Harbor Marinas.

Investor interest in the waterside properties started growing in 2019 when marinas gained more favorable tax treatment. Marinas got another boost with the rise in boat sales, which soared during the pandemic with more companies moving to coastal states with warmer climates. Boating also became more popular as a relatively safe way to socialize outdoors, along with camping and hiking.

“People who were [boating] some of the time are doing it more, and others are doing it for the first time,” said Billy Rahm, Centerbridge senior managing director.

Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $49.3 billion in 2020, up 14% from 2019, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Powerboat sales in 2021 were expected to surpass 300,000 for a second year in a row after hitting a record in 2020, the association said.

Analysts say the marina business resembles the manufactured-housing and recreational-vehicle industries before institutional investors discovered them and drove prices much higher.

Many institutional investors have viewed marinas as a terrible industry “because they own boats and have realized how much money they’ve sunk into them,” said Josh Dennerlein, an analyst with Bank of America who tracks the industry.

Yet, he added, they should have thought about the flip side and “that someone was making a lot of money to store their boats and maintain them.”

Some big investors became more intrigued with the prospect of owning marinas after the Internal Revenue Service ruled that fees paid for boat slips and boat storage counted as real-estate rents. That gave real-estate investment trusts that owned marinas the same tax benefits as those given to REITs that owned other commercial property.

The aging baby-boomer generation was stoking marina demand, even before the pandemic. More retirees have been spending their leisure time and savings on boating.

New marina construction, meanwhile, has been virtually nonexistent and barriers to new entrants are steep. There are few remaining development sites in sheltered harbors. New marinas would also have to overcome tough environmental regulations and possible community opposition.

“You don’t necessarily want a boat marina next to your beautiful $10 million waterfront home,” Mr. Dennerlein said.

Still, the marina business has its risks. Continued inflation would increase the cost of paying dockhands, boat-maintenance crews and other workers. An economic downturn would likely convince many would-be customers to avoid the cost of storage by keeping their boats in their driveways.

Most of all, analysts said, climate change raises the possibility of more hurricanes and rising sea levels that could upend the boating business. Mr. Rahm said Centerbridge has taken steps to mitigate climate change risks, such as investing in boat-storage locations at higher elevations.

New York-based Centerbridge estimates that there are about 11,000 marinas in the U.S. but most are individually-owned businesses. The industry is ripe for consolidation, Mr. Rahm suggested, because the minor marinas can’t match the investments larger companies like Suntex are making in technology and marketing.

Merger-and-acquisition activity in this specialized sector has picked up during the Covid-19 era and after the tax change. Real-estate investor Sun Communities Inc. acquired the largest operator, Safe Harbor Marinas, in 2020. Centerbridge became Suntex’s largest shareholder last year.

Mr. Rahm said his firm is eyeing other acquisitions as it builds a marina company that it is considering taking public later this year.

Suntex also has been investing in ways to expand marina revenue beyond docking, storage, maintenance, and food-and-beverage services. Many of the company’s marinas offer boat clubs and rentals that make tidy profits while giving non-boat owners a taste of ocean spray, fishing and water sports.

“If they really like it, they end up buying a boat,” Mr. Rahm said. “When they do, they’re highly likely going to keep their boat at a Suntex marina.”

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Sale Announcement | Moby Dick Marina Sold

SVN Marinas is pleased to announce it advised the owners of the Moby Dick Marina on the sale of their business in Fairhaven, MA to a private investment group led by America’s Cup winning sailor, Rome Kirby, and Tristram Worth of VMG Capital.  Founded in 1994 and acquired in 2005 by the Anezis and Zolotas families, the Moby Dick Marina is in a high-visibility location along I-195 in the hurricane barrier protected New Bedford Harbor.  The Marina has a 19,200 SF building with 80 dry-stack slips, 50 in-water slips and 5 moorings. 

Mike Howell, the owner of SVN Safe Haven Advisors and co-Council Chairman of SVN Marinas approached the owners of the Moby Dick Marina about the possibility of selling their marina to capitalize on the robust interest from prospective marina acquirers seeking attractive facilities in the Northeast and across the country. This is the first acquisition for VMG Capital who contacted SVN Marinas in their efforts to develop a larger marina platform.   

SVN Marinas advises on the acquisition and divestiture of marinas, marine properties and marine businesses. SVN Marinas has nearly twenty marina and marine properties publicly listed for sale and numerous other confidential and off-market deals.  For more information about SVN Marinas and available marina opportunities please visit our website.

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