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Impact Profile: Rob and Alicia Walker – Walker Marine Sales

Walker Marine

Nov 15, 2021

(Left) Thumbs Up for getting another happy customer out on the water!

Walker Marine Sales has been proudly serving the Southwestern Ontario region as a marine dealer and service provider since 2015. Walker Marine has steadily grown to meet the demand in their community for a better product and service. They are, therefore, a proud dealer of brands such as Jeanneau, Prestige, Rinker, Hurricane, Godfrey, Mercury, and Yamaha. To learn more about Walker Marine Sales, we spoke with Robert Walker, the company’s founder.

What drew you to the boating industry?

Boating started as a hobby then turned into a side business. I bought my first boat in 2008. It was around $900 on Kijiji, it was a cheap old boat and I was stuck on the lake all the time with it. I fixed it up and sold it. I had several boats over the next five years, buying and selling boats all the time. Then I bought a few new boats – because I just enjoyed boating so much. From that experience, I felt that there was a lack of service in our area. Big dealerships sold new boats, but they sold so many new boats that there was a greater demand for service. That was when the idea came to me about getting started in the Marine business. In the beginning, I was dealing with used boats at the time. I have some friends on Pelee Island and I got introduced to Kim Slocum, the president of Rinker Boats. We became friends and he asked if I wanted to sell some new boats. So, that’s how I got started working with new boats with the Rinker brand. We started in a shed with a dirt floor and built up everything from there. Rinker was perfect for us. We became the top dealer for Rinker boats in Canada, and we were pretty proud of that.

What is the team like at Walker Marine Sales?

I have a couple of close friends working with me; we started with two of us working at the shop, and now there are three full-time and three part-time, working within a relatively small shop – we sell maybe twenty-five to thirty boats a year, most of those are bigger boats. We pride ourselves on having the best service in our area. The people I work with are my friends as well, it’s not always easy to get along, but we try pretty hard at that.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

We were sitting on a couple of million worth of inventory, and we were worried, but it turned out to be the opposite. We have never been as busy. At one point this year, we sold out of boats, which has never happened before.

How have you handled challenges such as product shortages?

That was tough. We had a couple of our big boats; two 35-foot boats that we ordered back last fall showed up in spring, but told us we would not get our engines until December in April. Luckily, we were able to find Mercury engines for it. Trying to get parts right now has been really tough. Things like stainless steel props have been almost impossible to get. We are trying to keep all our customers happy that have bought boats with us.

Could you tell me a bit about the lake you manufactured on your property?

Any money I have made from the business has gone back into our employee’s wages and expanded the property here. We have done some upgrades around there. We put two new buildings up last year. Then I had the idea to put a pond in. Since we are on a farm, it is okay to do that. I thought it would be cool to build a dock and have a boat on display, it would look best on the water. We used to have to tow a boat to the water to test it, but now we can check for leaks and water tests right on the property.

Walker Marine (Left) Rob’s key to success is looking after the customer.

Is service the main focus of Walker Marine Sales?

We got our most considerable reputation based on our service. By keeping the number of boats, we sell limited, and we can offer premium service that our competitors cannot. We try to make service our main priority. It’s always great to get more sales, but if you sell someone a boat and you do not offer excellent service, they will not come back in the future.

To learn more about Walker Marine Sales, visit: https://www.walkermarinesales.com

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