Industry projectors love to publish reports and break down the boating market into as many categories as possible. By doing this, these experts can boldly predict, recap and rehash the same information over and over as they look for signs that our economy has truly began to rebound. But it doesn't take a compass and slide ruler to figure out that one segment of the boating industry is having success and instead of sitting around and discussing, debating and predicting, the pontoon industry is simply just continuing to grow.
Pontoon boats are selling strong again and it's especially the value-driven models that are doing particularly well. Successful dealers understand that the key is to get first-time buyers into the boating industry early so they can continue to grow and upgrade as their needs change.
Shy Beaver Boat Center near Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania has been like a beacon to new boaters over the years and a lot has to do with its Avalon line of pontoons.
"We sell off of the Limited LS model more than we actually sell it," says Wayne Price, the sales and finance manager at Shy Beaver. "When people realize how affordable pontoon boats can be they often look at other models with more features or more room."
By offering a value-packed pontoon, more young families like Joshua and Joy Brumbaugh are taking advantage of the lifestyle that only boating can offer.
"We have friends who have boats and we used to go out with them and we've just always wanted one," says Joshua. "We used to come by every summer just to watch the boats so we finally decided just to buy one."
The young couple looked at other dealerships and other lines of pontoon boats, but they kept coming back to the Avalon LS 2200 from Shy Beaver. And on Memorial Day weekend in 2009 they made the decision to start enjoying their summers when they purchased the pontoon.
"Hands down this was a lot cheaper by thousands and for the money this was the nicest boat," says Joshua. "Plus we liked the construction, quality and the look of the Avalon."
For his bride of six years, the service at Shy Beaver was impressive.
"After we bought it they came out with us and they were there when we put it in the water and they were there when we took it out," says Joy. "They wanted to make sure we knew how to work everything and what everything was and they were really good about that."
The Brumbaughs live in Williamsburg, Pa., which is about 20 minutes away from Raystown Lake, but they weren't interested in towing the boat back and forth. They searched for a place to store it, but finding the right place at the right price turned out to be more difficult than they anticipated.
"The day we picked it up we still didn't have a place to store it," admits Joshua. "But the owner of Shy Beaver took us out for a ride and on our way in he said he had a place for us. He had made a spot in one of his mechanics buildings and we kept it there until a spot opened up."
Raystown Lake is a 30-mile man-made lake with nearly 110 miles of wooded shoreline and is considered by many to be a true family paradise for tubing, swimming and really "getting away," which is was very attractive to this family.
The Brumbaughs have two children, Bailey and Jesse, and it was the safe design of the Avalon as well as the layout that has their children excited and anticipating each time out on the water.
Four-year-old Bailey lives to be pulled on the tube, while her 3-year-old brother prefers the view from inside the boat. "When we stop Bailey loves to swim," says Josh. "As for Jesse, well, not so much."
As first-time pontoon owners the Brumbaughs have been pleasantly surprised by some of the features that they didn't think they'd use very much at the time of purchase.
"Truthfully the changing station was a great surprise to me, I love it," says Joy. "We didn't know whether we were going to get the boat that had one or not and I'm so glad that we did. It's a really nice feature and with two little kids we use it a lot."
For Joshua, it was the power of the Mercury 90hp four-stroke that he's been happy with. "We had the option to go with a 90hp two- or four-stroke or a 115hp four-stroke," says Joshua. "For tubing this is a good package for us and it's good on fuel too. If I had it to do again I might go with the 115hp, maybe. I'm not sure, we've really been happy with the 90."
The Brumbaugh family is pleased with their decision and they couldn't be happier with their Avalon or the people at the Shy Beaver Boat Center. But that's not to say they're not looking ahead to their next boat in the near future.
"I'm sure this won't be our last boat and Shy Beaver is where I'll go, no doubt there," says Joshua. "They take really good care of us and when we're ready for our next boat we'll be heading back to them."
And that's how pontoon boats are saving the boating industry. For more information on Avalon's line of high-quality pontoons ranging from popular entry-level models to its posh high-end luxury models visit www.avalonpontoons.com or call 989-463-2112.