Boating Industry

January 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 59

January 2017 | Boating Industry | 29 [ Dealer of the Year ] we knew the other direction was not going to end well for either one of us." In an industry where most dealers have no exit strategy, OneWater saw an opening for a model that allows those dealer principals to exit on their schedule. The OneWater model is built on the idea that the principal can stay with the dealership if he or she wants to, continuing to work, but eliminating the risk and headaches of ownership. "We bring them assistance on the administra- tive, back office, logistical mess that they don't like: dealing with the manufacturers, dealing with the floorplan companies, dealing with HR, dealing with advertising," Singleton said. "Not all of it's bad, but it distracts the majority of these owners from the passion that they got in the business for." In many cases, taking that responsibility off of the owners has reinvigorated them, helping them enjoy the business again. "We take that burden off them, take all of the liability off of them, put a little cash in their pocket and they get to pick up the phone a year from now, three years from now, 15 years now and say 'I'm going to the islands, I'm done,'" Singleton said. "We offer them the exit on their timing." Building the right team Plenty of companies grow quickly, but then collapse under that rapid growth. The OneWa- ter management team knew that to make their plan work, they needed to have the right people in place. It's a constant refrain from Singleton, as he credits Aisquith and the team he has built for the company's success in managing growth. "This has been a monumental task and by far the biggest challenge has been making sure that we have the right people to do that," Singleton said. A key part of that challenge has been build- ing a team that was capable of running the company on a day-to-day basis, but also man- aging potential acquisitions and integration of new dealerships. "We have to balance those people, because it's not like were doing [an acquisition] every- day," he said. "You've got this significant in- crease in payroll that you've got to cover. So we have to keep our cost structure from an administrative side under control, but [also] make sure we don't go in and do an acquisi- tion poorly and cost us other resources because we crashed it." From a management standpoint, OneWa- ter has focused on finding employees who can bring business knowledge to bear. Suc- cessfully implementing OneWater's acquisi- tion model doesn't require a large amount of technical marine knowledge. "It depends on what we're looking for," Singleton said. "There are a lot of MBAs out there that are incredibly smart – way smarter than me – that just can't land a job. It's not hard to sell them on our business. Our job is pretty sexy and cool. Everyone wants to be in the boat business … because it's fun." Finding the right partners is important, too. OneWater isn't interested in struggling dealers, only looking to add successful retail- ers to the company. "The most important thing we look at is are they a market leader," Singleton said. "Are they top one or two in market share? What kind of people do they have? What infrastructure do they have in place today?" Adding new brands to the stable adds com- plexity to the admin side of the business, but that won't stop OneWater from adding new brands when the dealership makes sense. "We like to look at specific areas, at the top dealer, and brands don't play into that until the very end," Singleton said. "If we were to go look at a dealer in X city, and he was the market share leader, and had been doing it for years and had a fantastic business and had five brands that we currently don't have today, we'd probably still buy it." Even with its rapid growth thus far, there's plenty more to come, as OneWater has more than a dozen conversations going on with po- tential acquisitions. "We are working … [on] new ones every day," Singleton said. "We're enjoying every minute of it and we just want to keep having fun." DEALER OF THE YEAR "This has been a monumental task and by far the biggest challenge has been making sure that we have the right people to do that." — Austin Singleton

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Boating Industry - January 2017