By Pamela A. Keene
Where are they now: Ian Brown expands detailing business to sell boats
Ian Brown started detailing boats at age 14 and within four years he had purchased all his equipment, a new truck, two jet skis and an ATV. But that was just the beginning for the now-23-year-old who was featured in Lakeside when he was just starting out. He has an associate’s degree in business under his belt and now buys and sells boats.
He’s got a 1,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar location near Charleston Park that’s surrounded by boats for sale and in various stages of being detailed. “In 2016 we sold more than 150 boats,” says the entrepreneur who employs six full- and part-time during the season. His father Ben, a former telecom executive, now works full-time for Ian, managing the crews and overseeing operations. Since 2014 he’s been mostly selling bow riders, deck boats, pontoons, cruisers and ski boats, plus some fishing and bass boats.
As a high school graduate, Ian was offered several full college scholarships to institutions out of state, plus he qualified for the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, but he had a different goal in mind. “My parents really wanted to me to do to college and I felt a little guilty not going to school so I got a 2-year degree in business from North Georgia,” he said. “But the business was going so well, I know that’s what I wanted to do.”
Ian’s become quite a boater himself, participating in the Pirates of Lanier for the past three years. in 2014 and 2015 he drove a 33-foot Baha, but now he owns at 27-foot tunnel hull boat that he ran in last year’s event. Named “Mr. Clean” – what else? – the boat sometimes sits out in front of Ian’s shop “just to get attention.”
He still owns the Ford F150, but now he’s got even more equipment, including two tractors, “tons of trailers,” and just about anything else he needs to grow his boat detailing and boat sales business.
“In 2016 we sold nearly $1 million in boats and I hope to at least double that in 2017,” he said. “I’ve done this all on my own, without borrowing any money. It’s what I’ve always hoped for, and it’s happened from a little bit of luck and a lot of hours.”
Pull Watersports, Holiday Harbor Boating Center join forces
Customers will benefit from the new Pull Watersports/Holiday Harbor Boating Center and Boat Storage that opened in early April at 4700 Browns Bridge Road in Cumming. “It just made sense for our businesses to come together,” said Eric Williams, owner of Holiday Harbor Boating Sales and Storage, with a location at Allatoona Lake. “We offer two separate product lines and it will benefit our customers because we’re cutting our overhead in half.”
The two businesses have gone in together on a 12-acre parcel of land on Browns Bridge to create a sales and service and boat storage on the west side of Lake Lanier. “With all the growth around Georgia 400, and with the way our business has been growing since we opened six years ago, it’s a good business decision,” said Jenny Serwitz, owner of Pull Watersports. “We will keep our retail location and pro shop at Keiths Bridge Road, less than a mile away, but we’re bringing our boat sales to Browns Bridge Road now. And we will be moving our service facility from Bethel Road to Browns Bridge Road by the end of 2017.”
The companies will share space in an existing building on the property through 2017. In 2018, they will build new facilities for sales and service, as well as adding more storage.
Williams has operated Holiday Harbor Marina at Allatoona Lake for 17 years, offering sales, storage, cabin rentals, camping and a fuel dock. The location on Browns Bridge represents an expansion for the family-owned business, which formerly operated a sales facility in Dawsonville. Holiday Harbor sells Godfrey Pontoons.
Jenny and Perry Serwitz opened Pull Watersports six years ago and Pull Marine three years ago, focusing on recreational watersports, wake boarding, water skiing, tubing, and wake surfing, equipment and accessories. The company is the Georgia dealer for Tige’ Boats; the dealership is moving to 4700 Browns Bridge Road. Pull Watersports was named the “Best Boat Dealer for 2017” by the Forsyth News.
Hastings and McGowan expand boat storage options at Lanier
Already operating several successful storage facilities in Buford, Brandon Hastings has created more options for people who want to dry-store their boats. The owner of Hidden Harbor and Little Harbor Boat and RV Storage facilities has opened Lanier Harbor Boat Storage at the corner of McEver Road and Lanier Islands Parkway. Hastings’ partner is McGowan Family LLC, managed by Frank McGowan of Flowery Branch. “There’s obviously a need for more storage on this side of the lake,” Hastings said. “We’re already half-filled and we just opened in October of last year.”
Hastings has built 436 covered and uncovered spaces on nine acres along one of Lanier’s busiest traffic corridors. Plans are to add more storage over time. The facility also offers 24-hour security, dual-height keypads with personal access codes, LED lighting, mechanical services, boat detailing, on-site pump out, wash areas and 60-foot drive aisles. Storage is available for RVs, boats, campers and personal water craft.
“We realized that most of the storage facilities on this side of the lake stay full, and in fact we had a waiting list of more than 300 for our own facilities,” Hastings said. “It was a matter of finding the right location and partner to bring Lanier Harbor Boat Storage to reality.”
Hastings has a long history in the marine business on Lanier. The Buford native visited his grandparents who lived on the lake and learned to water ski at the age of 4. In addition to owning Hidden Harbor and Little Harbor, he manages a storage facility that his grandmother owns.
The name of the facility is more than a coincidence. For 10 years Hastings worked at Lanier Harbor Marina for Barkley Geib. “Before I named it, I checked with Barkley out of respect,” he said. “He taught me a lot and I loved working there. I wanted to carry on the tradition of the name.”
Hastings works full time as an independent financial planner and money manager, specializing in money management and retirement planning.
“We’re already adding two more covered buildings with 70 more spaces around the perimeter of the property,” he said. “Our location is key to our immediate success.”
Another food option for your trip to the lake
Lakegoers now have another choice for fine eats to go in downtown Flowery Branch. Antebellum’s Nick St. Clair and Liberty Candy Company’s Karen Ching have opened Lakeside Market in the green building on Main Street. Located across from Antebellum, the old-fashioned provisions store offers a wide variety of gourmet items and fresh-made charcuteries.
“It’s a mix of a local market with European influences,” said Ching, who has been instrumental in the revitalization of Old Town Flowery Branch and Main Street. “We have fresh baked goods, many of Nick’s signature sauces and spreads, plus cheeses and desserts.”
Ching bakes home-style breads to complement St. Clair’s green tomato chow-chow, signature pimento cheese, bacon jam and other tasty treats. Antebellum’s cookie- in-a-jar feature the restaurant’s well-known lavender shortbread, chocolate chip and sea salt with easy-to-bake instructions. Antebellum’s trademark cornbread mix is also for sale.
“We offer Italian olive oils and true-aged balsamic vinegars, plus pastas, sauces and olives direct from Italy,” St. Clair said. “We have pantry items from Germany, loose and bagged tea, biscuits, steel-cut oats and even French Macarons.”
St. Clair’s favorite cookbooks are offered for sale, as are products from Liberty Candy Company, Abstruse Pastries, Bradbury Honey and Lazy Goats Farms. Fresh-sliced prosciutto and nuts, gourmet goods and a refrigerator case of ready-to serve spreads.
Lakeside Market sources and sells locally made and grown products as well. And the store can make customized gourmet gift baskets for all occasions.
Lakeside Market is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Posted online 3/31/17