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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Lippincott Marina Acquired

Chesapeake Whalertowne, a dealership with locations in Grasonville and Annapolis, Md., announced in a statement its acquisition of Lippincott Marine.

The full-service marina is located at Kent Narrows in Grasonville and has 200 slips that can accommodate boats to 70 feet.

A Boston Whaler and Mercury dealer, Chesapeake Whalertowne said the Lippincott acquisition will diversify its revenue streams and increase its presence in the Chesapeake.

“The acquisition of Lippincott Marine is the logical next step in growing our business and supporting our customer base, which represents one of the strongest here on the Chesapeake Bay,” Whalertowne general manager Rick Boulay Jr. said in a statement.

Chesapeake Whalertowne is planning capital improvements and will rename the facility Cedar Point Marina.

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Southern Marinas Acquires Tennessee Property

Southern Marinas Holdings announced in a statement that it has acquired Grand Harbor Condominiums and Marina on Pickwick Lake in Tennessee.

The property is on the Tennessee-Mississippi border, less than a mile from the Alabama state line. Located at the junction of the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee Waterway, the marina attracts boaters cruising the Great Loop.

“Grand Harbor is a unique asset that attracts boaters and vacationers from a broad demographic area,” Gary Rosmarin, principal with Southern Marinas, said in a statement. “By the addition of Grand Harbor, our portfolio now extends its geographic footprint from the Northwest, through the Midwest, into the Southeast.”

The full-service marina includes covered slips, condo rentals, a rental fleet, a ship’s store, fuel dock, a lakeside pool, tennis courts and a fitness center and spa.

Grand Harbor is Southern Marinas’ sixth acquisition this year.

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OneWater Marine To Acquire T-H Marine

OneWater Marine Inc. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire T-H Marine, a provider of branded marine parts and accessories, for approximately $185 million. The transaction is expected to close in the calendar fourth quarter of 2021.

“With its comprehensive product portfolio, reputation for innovation, omni-channel sales strategy, and ability to acquire and integrate niche category leaders, we look forward to welcoming Jeff Huntley Sr., and his team into the OneWater Marine family,” said Austin Singleton, chief executive officer for OneWater. “We believe T-H Marine represents a strong, natural fit with our service, parts & other sales business and meaningfully increases our addressable market for marine parts and accessories. With a track record of increasing financial performance, we believe the addition of T-H Marine will further enhance our long-term growth strategy as we continue to scale the business and drive value to our shareholders.”

Founded in 1975, and headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, T-H Marine has transformed from a predominantly OEM supplier of parts into an industry leading omni-channel marine platform. It serves the expanding aftermarket parts and accessories market through its e-commerce site, various marine and big box retail sites and marine distribution channels. The transaction will advance OneWater’s growth and diversification strategy and is expected to more than double the size of its service, parts & other sales business with a highly complementary product portfolio of marine parts and accessories.

“Our history of accretive acquisitions is not only complementary to OneWater’s business model and growth strategy, but also provides an additional platform for expansion. We look forward to working with the OneWater team to scale the business through organic investments and acquisitional growth,” said Jeff Huntley Sr., chief executive officer for T-H Marine. “Joining OneWater will allow us to further enhance our strategy of acquiring and growing businesses to serve all of our aftermarket and OEM customers with even more amazing products.”

The combination is expected to further reduce OneWater’s exposure to the cyclical nature of new boat sales, providing the Company with a more robust and complete offering, at the same time, improving overall gross margins.

OneWater will be using a combination of cash and approximately $7 million in stock to fund the acquisition. In conjunction with the transaction, the Company has received a commitment from Truist Securities to expand its current term facility by $200 million. The Company expects its net debt-to-Adjusted EBITDA ratio to be in the range of 1.2x to 1.7x after the transaction. The closing of the transaction is anticipated during the fourth quarter of calendar 2021 and is subject to usual and customary closing conditions as well as regulatory review and approval.

Stifel acted as the exclusive financial advisor to OneWater, while Truist Securities will be providing committed financing for the transaction. Citizens M&A Advisory is serving as the exclusive financial advisor to T-H Marine.

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OneWater completes PartsVu acquisition

OneWater Marine Inc. announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of PartsVu (“PartsVu”), an online marketplace for OEM marine parts, electronics and accessories. PartsVu enhances the Company’s presence in the marine parts and accessories sector while helping reduce exposure to the cyclicality of boat sales.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome the PartsVu team to the OneWater family as we continue to execute on our strategic growth initiatives and drive increased value for our stockholders. The strength of our combined business further solidifies our leadership position in the marine industry and, notably, in the high margin parts and accessories business,” said Austin Singleton, chief executive officer for OneWater.

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MarineMax Acquires Cruisers Yachts, Will Sell/Service Via Select Retail Network

“Our motto is: We don’t just sell boats, we sell boating,” MarineMax CEO and President Brett McGill tells me when we discuss his company’s acquisition of the esteemed Cruisers Yachts boat builder (with its own heritage dating back to 1904). “And our history has been one of constant innovation, driven by my father Bill McGill’s vision when he founded the company. It was a relatively simple idea: to bring individual boating retailers and marina service operations together as a single, consistent network of operations. But that drive has always taken us into new territory.”

And the newest territory is entering the world of boat building directly. As a retailer with arguably one of the most recognizable brand names in the country, how did the news of owning its own building operation sit with MarineMax’s estimable stable of 25 other brand partners like Boston Whaler, Sea Ray, Grady-White and Azimut (to name just a few)?

“The acquisition was handled with care and sensitivity; we’ve never looked to ‘trade fiberglass’ and switch our brand offerings,” McGill clarifies. “Cruisers’ products fit in a category that doesn’t compete with our existing brands. The reception from our other builders has gone well. In addition, we wanted Cruisers to retain its existing retailers, so we are only offering the products in select MarineMax locations, again, to avoid unnecessary conflicts.”

The term “perfect storm” may be ill-chosen in regards to boating, but, according to McGill, the opportunity at Cruisers was just too attractive to pass up. While always popular builds, MarineMax partner Sea Ray essentially left the over-50-foot vessel market, leaving a gap in MarineMax’s spectrum of retail offerings. “Not only does Cruisers Yachts have a strong century-long history, terrific reputation, and incredible crew of skilled professionals, but it had just completed work on a new facility that was essentially doubling their production capabilities when it came up for sale.”

As such, MarineMax has no plans to re-badge Cruisers’ products, nor create any kind of special customer scenario within their sales operation. “This isn’t a case of Cruisers Yachts becoming a ‘house brand’ for MarineMax. The experience for Cruisers buyers will be perfectly consistent with buyers of any of the brands we offer.”

Certainly, with 77 locations in 22 states, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and other countries and 30 owned marinas operating 8,000 slips, MarineMax has one of the best “real world” fingers on the pulse of what the boating public is looking for in a vessel, but McGill also downplays that: “When we investigated the opportunity, we took a good, long look at Cruisers’ long-range development plans, and they just got everything right. Sure, we can add some value and expertise with our own insight, but it would all be in sync with what Cruisers is already doing so well.”

“Plus, MarineMax isn’t exactly a ‘newbie’ to boat-building involvement,” he adds. “We are the primary customer of power-cat builder Aquila Power Catamarans that produces the charter fleets for our BVI and Bahamas operations and we also sell them worldwide. We are deeply involved in each and every one of those builds. Our ownership of Cruisers Yachts is just a natural extension of the innovation and growth MarineMax has been doing all along. We are interested in creating an evolving and always-superb MarineMax experience and lifestyle.”

When asked to pick just two Cruisers vessels that best show-off the builder’s appeal, he pointed to The 60 Cantius and the 42 GLS.

2022 Cruisers Yachts 60 Cantius

The 60 Cantius packs in the luxurious features of a larger vessel, in an easy-to-pilot 60-foot format. With spacious accommodations, abundant glass to bring waterborne vistas in, and a retractable sunroof, it is designed to deliver a cruising approach that is equal parts private opulence and floating party fun.

Price Range: $1.4 to $1.6 million

Length Overall: 59 feet, 10 inches

Beam: 16 feet

Draft: 4 feet

Fuel Capacity: 647 gallons

Powerplant: 2x 725-hp Volvo Penta IPS950 diesel engines

Top Speed: 34 knots (about 39mph)

Outstanding Features: Full length glass doors; Master, VIP, and bunk-bed staterooms; washer and dryer

2022 Cruisers Yachts 42 GLS

The adventure-seeking vibe of Cruisers Yachts’ GLS series is amped up in the new 42 GLS. Dual beach doors port and starboard expand stern water access to create a more spacious “beach club” deck; a galley with a raised wet bar and ample bow lounging space makes for an unexpected level of entertainment sophistication. The lower cabin features an aft stateroom and U-shaped dinette that converts into a berth.

Price Range: from $928,340

Length Overall: 42 feet

Beam: 16 feet

Draft: 3 feet, 6 inches

Fuel Capacity: 403 gallons

Powerplant: 3x Mercury Verado 350-400hp outboards

Top Speed: 45 knots (about 52 mph)

Outstanding Features: Expanding aft beach doors, Simrad electronics, joystick piloting

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Brunswick to acquire Navico

Brunswick Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Navico, a global leader in marine electronics and sensors for $1.05 billion. As a result of this acquisition, Brunswick will add the industry leading brands of Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, and C-MAP to its Advanced Systems Group (ASG), which includes the leading Parts & Accessories (P&A) brands in power management, digital control and monitoring, and networked devices.

“The acquisition of Navico and its award-winning brands will immediately accelerate Brunswick’s ACES (Autonomy, Connectivity, Electrification and Shared-Access) strategy, and support our vision to deliver distinctive new products and technology-enabled experiences,” said Dave Foulkes, Brunswick Corporation CEO, in a company press release.  “We will continue to invest both in organic initiatives and acquisitions to maintain our position of global product leadership, and the addition of Lowrance, Simrad, B&G and C-MAP to our existing brand portfolio will further strengthen our ability to provide complete, innovative digital solutions to consumers and comprehensive, integrated systems offerings to our OEM customers.”

Navico is a privately held global company based in Egersund, Norway and co-owned by Altor Fund IV and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. It is a provider of multi-function displays, fish finders, autopilots, sonar, radar, and cartography. Navico’s strong brands serve most major powerboat and sailing markets for both recreational and commercial applications.

Navico’s revenues totaled approximately $470 million for the trailing 12-month period ended May 31, 2021, with attractive revenue growth, a strong margin profile, and a capital efficient business model. Brunswick’s P&A segment accounts for about $1.5 billion – or 35% of total 2020 annual revenues. With the addition of Navico, Brunswick expects its P&A businesses to have revenues exceeding $2.0 billion. 

“After a strong period of growth, we are very excited about joining the Brunswick family to further strengthen our offering and support our customers going forward.” said Knut Frostad, Navico’s President and CEO. “On behalf of everyone at Navico, we cannot wait to begin our journey with Brunswick and share our passion and dedication with their team. By working together, we will be able to deliver a unique and integrated customer experience.”

The closing of the transaction is anticipated during the second half of 2021 and is subject to usual and customary closing conditions as well as regulatory review and approval.

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