In Store: Singleton Marine Group
Alliance: Let’s get to the serious stuff first. How many peaches does your staff consume daily?
Singleton Marine Group (Austin Singleton): We have never really thought of tracking that, but if I had to guess I would say not many. Even though Georgia is the Peach State, I think Monster and Red Bull might have by-passed the consumption of peaches, at least at SMG. I should have bought into both of these companies years ago. It would have been the best investment ever.
A: When did SMG open their first store and where was it?
SMG: It was on Lake Martin in 1987 in the thriving metropolis of Dadeville, Alabama. My Dad was a developer at Lake Martin and fell in love with the lake and figured building a marina would be a way to stay put. Both my brother and I were very blessed getting to grow up on the lake.
A: How many dealerships does SMG have now and where are they located?
SMG: This might take a minute… nine, I think. Two on Lake Martin in Alabama, three on Lake Lanier in Georgia, two on Lake Oconee in Georgia, two on Lake Keowee in South Carolina, and one in Dallas, Texas… wait that is ten. Quite embarrassing not knowing.
A: What are the benefits to having multiple dealerships and what are the disadvantages?
SMG: Not sure how to answer this one, but I guess the biggest plus is that our customers can reach us in many locations with ease and they know that they can find what they need throughout the southeast. As we continue to grow we are looking at ways that our customer base, which mainly comes from the big cities, can go to premier lakes in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina and find SMG. The disadvantage is that it takes a lot of work and limits my time behind the wheel of our Malibu.
A: When did SMG start selling Malibu Boats and why did you decide to bring a wakeboard boat line to the dealership?
SMG: We teamed up with Malibu in April of 2010. We had previously been a dealer for another inboard brand on a much smaller scale but had the opportunity to team up with Malibu and bring Bryan Potzner into the SMG family. This combo was something we had been after for a couple of years and the partnerships have worked out better than I could have ever expected.
A: What other boat brands can people expect to see at your dealerships?
SMG: Cobalt, Yamaha, Harris, Regal, Carver, and of course Malibu and Axis.
A: You’ve had a pro shop for a few years now. When and how did that get introduced to the SMG stores?
SMG: We had our toes in this as early as 2003, but not on the scale we do today. When we took on Malibu we knew we needed to step it up and I called on a good friend of mine, Sawyer Davis. Sawyer and I grew up together and had been lake bums since our early school years. We started brainstorming on what we could do to increase family participation. We had some great customers whose sons were very talented wakeboarders and loved to teach. So we began doing more clinics and events. I quickly saw how these young guys Johnny Tobaben, Alex Grayden, Ben Watts, and Jeff Mathis loved the sport and their passion quickly turned families into customers for life. So we developed the SMG Team concept and ran with it. It has been a blast and I look forward to what the future holds.
A: What wake brands do you carry in your pro shops?
SMG: Liquid Force, Ronix, Slingshot, Hyperlite, O’Brien, Victoria Skimboards, Reef, Oakley, Costa, Gopro; I am sure I am forgetting a few. It is very fluid, the guys are always trying and looking for new stuff. I feel like the old grandpa they come to for money to get the newest, coolest stuff.
A: The last two years SMG has release some pretty impressive full-length wakeboard videos. What’s the motivation behind those videos and how did they get started?
SMG: It goes back to the Team SMG concept. When we formed the team, two major players were Chase Andrews and Jamie Graff (Remedy Films). Bryan brought up the idea at a meeting one day and we all loved it. We got with Chase and Jamie, pitched our idea to them and put together a budget to get it done. Before we even splashed the first boat, our ideas had out-run the budget and at that time we were in the deepest part of the recession, but we said, “screw it, let’s do something fun.” Epic was a word that kept coming up and I can tell you with three helicopters it was epic, fun, and crazy all combined. After the preview of the first video I knew we wouldn’t get by without doing it again. My dream is to get a few of our vendor partners to throw some cake at it so that we can really do something. Art of Flight, watch out because here we come!
A: We hear a cable park is in your future. Tell us about that project and when can we start shredding at your park?
SMG: This is a very exciting project. We had hoped to be tearing it up this summer but we hit a few snags that would have pushed us to late summer or early fall of 2012. It was bad, but good at the same time. Since we could not hit our original deadline, we went back to the drawing board and added a second lake with a full six-tower system. So we will have two full size cable lakes and one System 2.0 covering 20 acres in the LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson, Georgia. This will be about 30 miles from the Atlanta airport and 20 minutes from downtown. As of today we still are working on the name and plan to release the winner of the “Name the Park Contest” in late March. We have been weeding through close to a thousand entries and look forward to awarding the lifetime golden ticket soon to the winner.
A: It has been a tough boating market for the last few years. What has SMG done over the years to stay on top?
SMG: The formula is simple. We have the best brands, represented by the best team that loves boating and all that goes with it. Through this tough boating market, we have tripled our size and see the sky as the limit. It is very easy when you have fun doing your job. I am an old Spread Head and love that song “Ain’t Life Grand.”
A: What’s the one thing you’ve learned about boating over the years that you will never forget?
SMG: I have learned a lot, but two things stand out. One, if you assume the plug is in the boat you will sink and that if your family is not communicating, getting along, or having trouble, buy a boat. What better way to tighten up the family bonding than to be trapped in a small place? I can promise laughter and fun will soon follow. I love it and look forward to that 2-3 hours of boating we do every day all summer long.
A: Atlanta has some popular rap stars in the neighborhood. Have Ludacris, Andre 3000, or Lil’ Jon ever come into any of your dealerships to buy a boat?
SMG: We have not seen them yet, and I stress yet! We have several pro athletes that have bought boats from us, but we need to tap that rap scene. I guess I will need to work on that. Got any suggestions of how to get in that crowd? Maybe we can get a couple of them to do some music for the next video?
A: Did you know Zac Brown lived on Lake Lanier?
SMG: I did not, but we have talked with him about boats. He was looking for a large center console for the coast. It’s a small world. In our first film, the black chopper we used was also used in one of Zac’s videos. Zac and the son of the owner/pilot are good friends. Here is another video opportunity. Get Zac wakesurfing for next year!
A: Waffle House or Cracker Barrel?
SMG: Waffle House once a week with the kids and Cracker Barrel with the Missus.
Singleton Marine Group
5529 Friendship Road
Buford, GA 30518
7280 Highway 49 South
Dadeville, AL 36853