WV Hunting and Fishing Show @ Charleston Civic Center – January 20th-22nd
Huntington Boat & RV Show @ Big Sandy Superstore Arena – January 27th-29th
WV Outdoor Sports Show @ Charleston Civic Center – February 17th-19th
WSAZ Home & Garden Show @ Big Sandy Superstore Arena – March 10th-12th
WV Woods & Water Expo @ Summersville Arena & Conference Cntr. (Armory) – March 17th-19th
E. KY Sport, Boat & RV Show @ E. KY Expo Center in Pikeville, KY. – March 17th-19th
WV Home Show @ Charleston Civic Center – March 31st – April 2nd
LAVALETTE — What began as a couple’s love of the outdoors has grown into a nationally and sometimes globally recognized boat dealership.
The Great Outdoors Marine and Sports Shop in Lavalette was recently recognized as a “Top 100″ boat dealer in North America for the third year in a row.
“It’s not about sales volume -selling a lot of boats will sure get you noticed – it’s more of a market share and how a dealership is doing in comparison to
competitors in the area,” Phil Daniel, who owns Great Outdoors with his wife, Diane, said. “It has to do with things such as the type of facility and dealer’s
overall profitability, too.”
There are more than 5,000 boat dealerships in North America. To be considered for the “Top 100″ requires being nominated and completing an application
Phil Daniel said takes several weeks – and that’s merely the beginning of the process.
“There’s a panel of people from different aspects of the boating industry and they examine the dealers,” Phil Daniel said. “They look at numbers, profits,
what is spent on advertising and what the gross margins are. It’s a rather detailed application.”
The panel reviews all applications and picks the 100 best.
The Great Outdoors Marine is the only West Virginia boat dealer ever to receive this award earn Marine 5-Star Certification, another measure of quality for
The Great Outdoors achieved the certification in 2012 and was one of just 15 dealers in the United States to receive the distinction, which Diane Daniel
said is a certification that is ongoing and reviewed annually.
In 2014 at the annual Tracker Marine Dealer Conference, The Great Outdoors was named a Top-10 Tracker Marine dealer in the world based on sales
volume and customer service index scores, which measures customer satisfaction based on quality, delivery, customer satisfaction and overall performance.
Twice in the past five years The Great Outdoors was the No. 1 dealer in the country for Sweetwater pontoons.
The Daniels admit their business ventures have progressed significantly since buying the Beech Fork Lake marina nearly 30 years ago.
“We started at the marina at Beech Fork Lake in 1986,” Phil Daniel said. “(Beech Fork) is a pontoon lake, and we really got interested in pontoon boats. In
1991 the closest boat dealer to us, which was owned by the same guy who did all the service on our rental boats on Beech Fork went out of business. So,
we started thinking that we need to do something to keep our service going and get a source of pontoon boats for future rentals. We decided to move into
his old building; it’s where Roger Smith is now. We never really had aspirations to grow into something like this, but the need was there and we just grew.”
The rapid and sustained growth of The Great Outdoors, Diane Daniel said, can be largely credited to their joining of a conglomerate of dealers called a
“20 Group” that focuses on networking by sharing ideas, financial information and different business practices.
Diane Daniel said a “20 Group” meeting that took place at Great Outdoors about 18 months ago is the impetus for having the store’s unique indoor dock
for viewing pontoons.
“We used to have a wall separating our showroom because we had an archery range,” she said. “Someone in the group asked, ‘Do you have an archery
range back there now?’ I said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘Then why not take this wall down?'”
Phil Daniel said soon after the wall came down, the dock went up.
Serving such a large area is both a blessing and a curse. Phil Daniel said he considers the geographic coverage of The Great Outdoors to include the entire
state of West Virginia and stretching as far west as Lexington, Kentucky, and as far north as Columbus, Ohio.
“In the boat business, the area customers come from is pretty large,” Phil Daniel said. “It’s a bigger area for boat buyers than the average car customer.
There are a couple of dealers in Charleston I would consider our competitors, but locally there isn’t any really.”
The Great Outdoors’ 20,000 square-foot building sits on about 2 acres with close to 200 new and used boats for sale on 5th Street Road. The business
employs 17 at the store and seven at the marina.
For more information, visit thegreatoutdoorsmarine.com.
Follow reporter Brandon Roberts at www.facebook.com/brandonrobertsmedia and via Twitter @HD_Business.
Attendees celebrate 36th anniversary of Tracker fishing boat popularity and success
RIDGEDALE, Mo. – An avid fisherman and outdoorsman, President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance as keynote speaker Sept. 15, 2014, at the Tracker Marine Conference at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake. The president’s father, George H. W. Bush, addressed the same convention 20 years ago in 1994, in nearby Springfield, Missouri.
Invited by Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Marine Founder/CEO Johnny Morris, Mr. Bush delighted attendees from the United States and around the world including such faraway places as Australia, Russia, China and South Africa with stories about his and his family’s love for fishing and their passion for the outdoors. He also spoke about his administration’s work to protect water quality and natural resources. While in the White House, Mr. Bush restored, improved or protected more than 3 million acres of wetlands and created wildlife habitats through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and other cooperative conservation efforts
”We pioneered a new model of cooperative conservation in which government and private citizens and environmental advocates work together,” said Mr. Bush, a longtime family friend of Morris.
Tracker is the first boat, motor, and trailer package designed just for anglers and introduced by Morris in 1978. Tracker has remained America’s #1 selling fishing boat for more than 36 years.
Morris praised the president for initiating many conservation efforts that helped protect wildlife habitats and water quality. One example is an Executive Order Mr. Bush signed to conserve as game fish two of America’s most popular recreational fish – striped bass and red drum – for the recreational, economic, and environmental benefit.
“We are inspired by and grateful to Mr. Bush and his father for their shared love of the sport of fishing and for their leadership and commitment to national conservation efforts,” said Morris. “His efforts help ensure recreational fishing opportunities continue to exist for us and future generations. We are very proud that the president fishes out of his own Bass Tracker boat on his ranch in Texas.”
The Tracker Marine celebrity fishing team joined Johnny Morris and President George W. Bush on stage. Pictured from left to right: Johnny Morris, Roland Martin, President George W. Bush, Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Pedro Sors, Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Kendall Newson, and Diego Toiran. Not pictured: Charlie Campbell.