Terry Griffith says he has clients who have been with the marina ever since his dad first bought the marina in 1946 and even some who have been associated with the marina even longer. And because everyone knows each other, it makes for a pleasant atmosphere for him and his two siblings to be a part of.
Griffith's Wawasee Marina has been family-owned and operated for nearly 70 years. The marina is located on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse, Ind., and is run by Terry along with his brother Danny and their sister Lisa Mikolajczak.
"On an inland natural lake, it's like a small town and you know everybody," says Terry. "We have had three generations of family who have worked here. My dad is now 94 and comes over here on the weekends. He retired at the end of 1976 and the three of us have been here since then."
The family business all started with Larry Griffith, who had a passion for boating.
"My father had an interest in boats," recalls Terry. "He had dabbled with a couple of other interests as a teenager, but boats just fascinated him. He liked them and thought they were kind of neat."
Now the business is run by his three children and according to Terry, the main difference between running a family-owned business and working at a normal company is the amount of time and effort you put into the job.
"Because it is yours and you own it, you want to put more of an effort in to it," says Terry. "You have a lot pride and time that you put into doing your job and really the only downside is I live 600 feet from the marina and sometimes I get a call at 2 a.m. because someone is out of fuel."
There are many things that the marina offers including storage, boat sales and boat repair, along with other services. During the summer months, there is dock space available to rent for those boats at or under 24 feet in length.
"We're a sales, service, and storage company," explains Lisa. "We don't start putting the boats back in the water until the second week of April."
During the winter months, Terry said the marina is in storage mode. This gives Terry and his siblings the ability to service and do maintenance on the boats that they otherwise would not be able to do, such as re-carpeting.
Sticking With Starcraft
The Griffiths have been Starcraft dealers since the 1950s and feel that it is the perfect area to be a part of something like this.
"We're in an area where Starcraft and Smoker Crafts are in one plant, about 20 miles west of the marina," says Terry. "The lake is the largest natural lake in the state of Indiana and it's a unique area. There are a lot of interesting things and fun events that happen around here and the Starcraft line is a perfect fit."
Besides being a Starcraft dealer, the marina also sells Boston Whalers, Ebbtide boats as well as utility-type boats. There are also used boats available for purchase.
Standing Room Only
The marina stays pretty busy throughout the week during the summer with the busiest day being Saturday. Because of how busy the marina can get, the Griffiths make it a point to get clients in and out when serviced so that they can help as many people as possible.
"We do our best to get people back out on the water as quickly as possible," says Danny. "We can have around 200 to 250 boats a day so it can be a challenge. The dock is big and we have about 100 feet of space with a lot of pumps, but we don't let anybody self serve. It's all done by our staff."
The Griffiths feel that how a client is being treated and serviced is of utmost importance. Proper service for the customer can go a long way in how the client views the marina and has a factor on if he has a positive experience or not.
"For the boater, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance. If you do something wrong more people hear about it than if you do something good," adds Terry.
There have been no major changes to the marina since the Griffiths have taken it over. Rather, they have just been doing little things to keep it up to date. Terry says that a lot of people come to the marina and it brings back memories of when they were a child.
"We do a lot of minor updates. Not so much changing things, but just enhancing what we have," adds Lisa. "A lot of people come in and they really like it because it's the way they remember the marina when they were younger. All we have done is maintained it, but haven't changed a whole lot."
With the spring season just around the corner and the anticipation of another successful summer, the staff at Griffiths Marina are already in mid-summer form as they prepare to once again help their clients get back out on the water.
Griffith's Wawasee Marina