William E. Hickson is credited for saying, “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.” For the Langsfords, they can relate—although you could argue they succeeded even if the first pontoon they purchased from St. Tammany Marine & Powersports in Mandeville, La., didn’t work out like they had planned.
Kenny and Michelle Langsford had never owned a boat before, but decided the time was right since their daughter Korrie, who is 14, and their 8-year-old son Kade, were at the age where the parents felt they needed to find a new hobby they could all do together.
“We wanted to create memories with our kids and we knew boating would do that,” says Kenny. “We wanted to have something they could look back on as well as something our kids can look forward to doing right now.”
The Louisiana couple worked with Michael “Joe” Robinson, who is a sales rep at St. Tammany Marine, and decided to purchase a 20-foot Sweetwater pontoon.
“When I sold the Langsfords the 20-foot pontoon I knew they’d be happy, but because they were new to boating I told them to give it a try and if for some reason they didn’t like it, they could bring it back,” recalls Joe.
“Even after we bought it, Joe said to consider it a test ride and said he’ll rip the check up if we decided we don’t like it,” adds Michelle. “When I called him back after the weekend, I told him he didn’t need to rip the check up, but we did need to talk.”
Little Bit Bigger?
The family took the boat out the first weekend they got it and quickly realized they needed a bigger model. After talking with Joe, the couple successfully upgraded to the Sweetwater 220 SL, which is a 24-foot pontoon with a larger seating capacity and a Yamaha 115hp four-stroke outboard.
“We felt we got more for our money with this package, including a bigger motor,” says Michelle.
“If you can afford it, having the third pontoon does make it easier to control, plus we like having more horsepower and power steering,” adds Kenny.
After the Langsfords first went to St. Tammany Marine they visited other dealerships in the area, but nothing compared to what the Godfrey dealer was offering. The couple felt good with their decision and ended up going back to buy the Sweetwater pontoon.
“This Sweetwater had the best package compared to all of the other boats we looked at,” says Kenny. “Some other dealers offered smaller engines for the same money, but no one offered three pontoons in this same price range. At other dealerships if we wanted to go bigger it got really expensive.”
Adds Michelle, “We really feel like we got more for our money. We now have four loungers, a bigger motor, but it’s not so luxurious that we couldn’t afford to buy it either.”
Focused On Toons
Mike Potter and his wife Louise purchased St. Tammany Marine in 1992 from the previous owner who was ready to retire. Over the years the family-owned business—that is located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans—has sold pontoon boats off and on, but for the majority of the time they’ve been known for selling bay boats, as well as Sea-Doo personal watercrafts.
For years the dealership has been heavy with Bombardier four wheelers, side-by-sides and even the Spyder BRP motorcycles, but according to the owners, all of that is changing now.
“The new emphasis is on the growing demand for pontoon boats and since the end of 2012 we’ve been teamed up with Sweetwater and Godfrey Marine,” says Mike. “It was brand recognition that we liked the most about working with Godfrey and from low-end to high-end, we like how we have access to several different lines within one company. They really do build a boat for everyone and the Sweetwater pontoons are a hit in our area.”
A Louisiana law that is designed to help with competition doesn’t allow the dealer to sell against any other companies within a 30-mile radius. This limits St. Tammany Marine on which outboards they can sell individually to people; however, when packaged with any of the different lines of pontoons offered by Godfrey, a customer can have any engine they desire.
Another reason Kenny and Michelle went with the Sweetwater is the great customer service at St. Tammany Marine, which is a full-service shop.
“Joe has been awesome to work with,” says Michelle. “He’s been great and really worked with us to get us what we needed. When we took the 20-footer out for the first time we realized that we couldn’t get all of our friends on it and we wanted more stability with the three pontoons and St. Tammany Marine made it happen.”
Both Kenny and Michelle grew up in Louisiana, but admit that owning a boat has opened their eyes to all of the beauty their state has to offer that they feel they’ve been missing out on.
“We love to go out and look at the cypress trees, the moss, the birds and all of the other different types of wildlife,” says Michelle.
Adds Kenny, “They call it a sportsman’s paradise for a reason. You can fish in freshwater and saltwater here so you really have the best of both worlds—not that I plan on taking this 24-footer deep into the ocean any time soon.”
The family has been enjoying their pontoon for nearly a year now and their only regret is they wish they would have done it sooner.
“We had some ‘beginner issues’ at the first, but we picked it up quickly,” says Michelle. “It really is easy to trailer and even to get it on the trailer is actually quite easy. If we had known it was this much fun we would have got into pontooning a lot sooner.”
Even though the first Sweetwater they purchased was a great boat, it wasn’t the right fit for them and with the help of St. Tammany Marine the family was able to get exactly what they were looking for and they couldn’t be happier with their decision.
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