Rising water lifts business

December 2009 News

They're not sitting at the dock of the bay wastin' time.

Travis and Cathy Hayes have plenty to do at Hayes Marine on Thurmond Lake even in the winter off season for boating. They offer a maintenance service to boaters, which helps take up the slack when boat sales are down

Even though it isn't peak boating season, there's plenty of work to be done at Hayes Marine.

Boat maintenance will dominate the winter work at the Appling dealership, the only one with a location on Thurmond Lake.

"Having a boat ramp 100 feet out your back door is really unique," said Travis Hayes, a third-generation Augusta marine salesman. His grandfather ran Paul Hayes Marine on Olive Road in Augusta in the 1950s. His father, Bob, co-owned Martinez Marine on Washington Road until his death in the late 1980s.

The credibility of that pedigree, he said, has helped his fledgling business find its sea legs.

Mr. Hayes and his wife, Cathy, bought a struggling lakefront boat dealership before their marriage two years ago. Hayes Marine rents its building from the marina's owner, Trade Winds. It is near Lake Springs Recreation Area.

Mr. Hayes said his service business is up but boat sales are flat because of the economy.

"The lake coming up in the spring like it did made it easier to be in business. It took a head wind and turned it into a tail wind," he said.

"Lake level affects business more than the economy, we found out," Mrs. Hayes said.

A lot is based on perception. When the lake level is down 10 feet, she said, people think there's not enough water for recreation. Higher water means it is easier to enjoy the lake.

Lower water means fewer usable boat ramps.

"It is the way they use the lake. They'll go into a cove and raft, and when the water is low, some of those hideaways go away," she said.

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