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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 15, 2018 5 months ago

Maximum celebration for top boat dealer

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MarineMax CEO Bill McGill reflects on 20 years at the helm.

MarineMax CEO Bill McGill rang in the firm’s 20th anniversary in style — by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. 

McGill, 73, who also founded the Clearwater-based boat retail network — the nation’s largest by volume — visited the NYSE June 7. The next day, he spoke about the experience and reflected on the milestone in a real-time broadcast via Facebook and YouTube.

NYSE executives, McGill says, commented on how rare it is for them to come across a 20-year-old company whose CEO and CFO have remained the same since day one. McGill says the continuity stems from the fact that he, CFO Michael McLamb and the rest of the executive team don’t operate MarineMax like a typical public company.

“We don’t chase quarterly earnings or short-term thinking,” McGill says — echoing the publicly declared thoughts of business titans such as Warren Buffett and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, among others. “Today, we are 29 private companies put together … who are selling a lifestyle, selling life-changing recreation. That’s what we focus on.”

Reflecting on his decision in 1997 to go ahead with an IPO for the company, McGill says, “I knew as much about an IPO as I understood what the letters meant.” At the time, “we were friends with a bunch of other dealers across the country, and I just said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to put all of our energy together and help customers across the country?'”

MarineMax is now on track to generate $1.2 billion in revenue this year. 

While growth is important, it’s not the be-all, end-all reason for the company’s existence, says McGill. This year, MarineMax will add two more boat retailers to the fold — one in Miami and one in Ocean City, N.J. — but the company doesn’t have a set target in mind for expanding its network.

“Acquisitional growth can be a strategy for a public company, but it’s not our strategy,” McGill says. “If we find the right partners that have the right culture, we’ll do it.”

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