Fishing for boat club members

April 2011 News
Like boating but don't like the hassle of ownership?

Consider membership in a boat club. Luke Kujawa, who has been in the marine business most of his life, is expanding Your Boat Club to White Bear Lake.

Kujawa is former president of Crystal-Pierz Marine, a company started by his parents that was sold in 2009. By then, he had already developed a business model for a boat club and three days after the sale, dovehead first into the concept.

A club makes more sense than ownership, according to Kujawa, who sold his first boat at age 12.

Even before the recession, the boat industry was struggling, he said. "People's habits are changing. Vehicles are getting too small to pull a boat, storage is a problem, and when you get to the boat landing, there's no parking.

"Families don't have the open weekends anymore to go to mom-and-pop resorts," he added. "The kids are too busy with sports and the resorts are turning into million-dollar lake homes."

Kujawa launched Your Boat Club last spring with three locations: Prior Lake, Lake Minnetonka and Gull Lake in Brainerd. This year, he's expanding to White Bear Lake and the St. Croix River at Stillwater.

The company's goal: Eliminate the high cost and commitment of boat ownership while giving lovers of watercraft the chance to enjoy the hobby guilt-free.

Your Boat Club works like this: Members purchase a "pier" package for $3,000 or $4,000, which includes a pontoon, ski boat and fishing boat. Size and quality depends on the package purchased; members are not limited to a certain location. Reservations are made first-come-first-served at the club website and members just show up at the scheduled time.

The club takes care of maintenance and has the boat uncovered, fueled and ready when the member arrives. When done, the boat is cleaned and refueled for the next person. Slips are staffed 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The only additional cost is fuel. Gas is charged to the member's credit card number kept on file. Members are also liable for a $1,000 insurance deductible.

"If you wreck a prop, you buy a prop," Kujawa noted.

Based in Minneapolis, Kujawa did some scouting before deciding on White Bear. Yes, lake levels are a concern, but he likes the town.

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