Bob and Sheila Brodie purchased a marina in Diamond Point in 1972; since then, what began as a sideline selling dinghies out of the family’s garage has evolved into one of Lake George’s most prominent water-based businesses.
Yankee Boating Center is owned today by the couple’s son Andrew and his wife Christina, who have purchased the marina, the boat dealership, ship store and real estate from their family.
This year, the company’s fifty-first, has been a momentous one.
Among other things, it secured the franchise for Nautique, adding what is, arguably, the nation’s best known luxury ski boat to the three other lines it represents: Godfrey pontoon boats, Blackfin and Monterey.
“The market is a niche one, but Nautique sits at the top of it, unrivaled,” said Andrew Brodie. “The company was looking for a dealer. It reached out to us and we jumped. You don’t often get an opportunity like that.”
“Sales have been great,” Brodie said.
To complement its sales team, Yankee hired an experienced Nautique technician to service the boats and sent two technicians, parts and service staff members to the company’s factory in Florida for specialized training.
“We now offer a good range of recreational boats, serving a broad market; we don’t need to fill every niche available,” said Brodie.
Yankee was also awarded a $250,000 tax incentive package from of Warren-Washington Industrial Development Agency that will defray the costs of constructing a $3 million boat service and storage facility on the Luzerne Road.
“Our plan is to move as much of our boat storage inside as possible,” said Brodie. “That will enable us to stop the use of shrink wrap, which will have a huge environmental impact. That plastic is never recycled; it goes right to a landfill.”
For the past 15 years, Yankee’s goal has been to move its sales, repair and storage services off the lake to the building on Lakeshore Drive, to lands leased for storage and, when completed, the buildings on the nine-acre lot on the Luzerne Road.
According to Brodie, the Diamond Point marina is now used exclusively for water-based activities, such as rentals.
That was not only a practical decision, designed to reduce congestion at the lake, but an environmental one.
“The lake is our bread and butter. We’re its custodians,” said Brodie.
A respect for the lake is not the only value Bob and Sheila Brodie instilled within the company, said Andrew.
“Among the things I inherited from my parents’ operation is a belief that everyone who works here should be motivated by the same commitment to treating our customers fairly, with honesty and transparency,” said Brodie. “We’re a bigger organization now than we were fifty years ago. We have as many as five different departments and nearly forty employees at our busiest. But as a team we’re still guided by those values.”
Brodie has had ample opportunity to absorb those values. He joined his parents’ company in 2005, after graduating from a ski academy in Vermont, Middlebury college and RPI, where he earned a Master’s Degree, and after starting a career at GE Global Research.
Although Brodie had worked at the marina as a teenager, he was reluctant to join the business immediately. “I just wanted to do something else,” he said. The alternative, however, proved less than satisfying. “I was sitting in a cubicle, surrounded by computer screens, crunching numbers and I realized ‘I really don’t want do this the rest of my life.”
By 2005, he said, “my parents were getting busy. They needed the help and I need to get out of a cubicle.”