The story of Riverside Marine begins in 1976, when a passionate boater bought a ramshackle marina on Chesapeake Bay. Two generations and almost 40 years later, Riverside Marine is still owned and operated by the same family who kicked things off. We spoke with sales representative (and founder’s grandson) Matt Baumgartner about what it’s like showing up to work every day at an iconic marina.
Riverside has been carrying Crownline for over five years. Intriguingly, it was the recession that brought the brand to their attention. Riverside was in search of a manufacturer selling high end sport boats. After flying across the country to five different manufacturers, touring facilities, and meeting owners, Crownline was the brand that came out on top. Fast-forward to today, and Riverside is among the top 10 Crownline dealers in the United States.
We asked Matt what he’d learned about Crownline customers in those five years. He described the passionate, almost cult-like loyalty Crownline owners show toward their boats. It’s not uncommon to see a 2- or 3-time repeat buyer, he says. And while nearly 40 years in business has earned Riverside many customers loyal to the marina, he notes that Crownline owners seek them out far and wide for trade-in due to their loyalty to the brand.
For Crownline customers, it’s all about the package, the plushness, and the feel, says Matt. While other types of boating purchases are largely price oriented, with Crownline there’s no sticker shock: customers know they’re investing in good looks, comfort and luxury. Matt says this makes the Crownline piece of their business easier—people come in looking for the Crownline brand, and from there, it’s just about matching them with the right model. On Chesapeake Bay, Riverside’s home, that can mean cabin cruisers, bow riders, deck riders and more.
Matt’s favorite customer is the brand-new boater. It’s a huge event for most boaters to spend $20-$80k on their first boat, and not know for sure if they’re going to love it or not (note: they almost always do). That makes the role of the salesperson especially important, says Matt, and Riverside does everything they can to ease that first-time buyer transaction. They offer free on-water training, a full tour of the facility, and discounts on virtually everything a new boater needs. Taken together, this makes the transition from non-boater to proud boat owner that much smoother.
When asked whether this is a good time of year to buy, Matt’s answer was emphatic: Yes! Manufacturers often run great deals through the winter months. What’s more, customers who special order boats can expect to wait several months before they’re ready; ordering now means that their brand-new boat is ready in time for next season. Matt recommends that customers who want to take full advantage of this come in no later than January.
Catch Riverside Marine at the Baltimore Boat Show this January!