A WEST POINT GRADUATE AND DECORATED MILITARY VETERAN IS USING HIS LEADERSHIP SKILLS TO STEER ONE OF AMERICA’S LARGEST BOATING RETAILERS INTO ITS BRIGHT FUTURE
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARETTO
This last year has driven new boaters to get on the water, as well as prompted those who may have taken a break from it to return to what they love being on the water again. Everyone is excited to be reunited, attend events, and spend time together.” This assessment from Marine Max Brick’s General Manager Doug Larsen is evident along New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline, and on its many scenic lakes and inland waterways.
Larsen, who hails from Long Island and moved to New Jersey in 2008, trumpeted activity at Marine Max this summer as “phenomenal,” adding the state’s boating industry “has exceeded all expectations from sales to service all year.” Demand for all manner of water craft for leisure, fishing, watersports, luxury pursuits, and vacations is high, with current bestsellers running the gamut from recreational to day boats, cabin cruisers, fishing boats, and yachts.
With 35 years of experience on Garden State waters, MarineMax represents a large and diverse roster of boating’s most respected and coveted brands. It is the area’s authorized dealership for Azimut, Galeon, Ocean Alexander, Aquila, Sea Ray, Sailfish, and Scout. The facility’s 160 slips and new deluxe floating docks can accommodate boats from 15’ all the way up to a 70’ yacht.
The newly renovated full-service marina is situated on the picturesque Manasquan River and offers easy-docking and deep-water access, new restroom and shower facilities, and a family-friendly atmosphere. Adjacent is the popular “dock and dine” River Rock Waterfront Restaurant, a live music venue with a vibrant Tiki bar scene on the marina. MarineMax staff, family, and clients mingle there, sharing experiences and adventures over coconut shrimp and cocktails. They can recommend other quintessentially Jersey Shore dock and dine locales throughout the area.
“I love everything about the nautical life here, from enjoying time on the water with my friends and family to fishing and attending fishing tournaments,” said Larsen. “The best part about the nautical life is making new connections and meeting new people. There is such a wonderful camaraderie in this boating community, and we all have one thing in common we love being on the water.”
An avid boater and water sports enthusiast since childhood, Larsen returned to his roots when he became MarineMax Brick’s general manager in April. “When I saw this opportunity open up at MarineMax, I realized I was able to combine my professional career with one of my lifelong passions,” he said. “There was no question this would be a great fit.”
The United States Military Academy graduate began honing his leadership skills in high school, where he was a standout on the football field. A starter on the Division One West Point gridiron, Larsen served seven years in the Army as a commissioned officer, leaving with the rank of captain. He received a bronze star following an ambush by insurgents at the Southern Bypass Bridge in Samarra, Iraq. “I wanted to attend West Point because I wanted to be a part of something greater than I had previously,” noted Larsen. “I was able to serve my country at the same time, as well as pursue my passion for football.” After re-entering civilian life and obtaining a master’s degree in leadership and management from the University of Texas at El Paso, Larsen worked with several Fortune 100 companies in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area before finding his way back to the water.
It all comes full circle at MarineMax where the veteran’s busy days focus on team management, customer service, and leading the sales and service teams.
“I thoroughly enjoy bringing it all together as a whole because without one you can’t have the other,” he said. “It is important we work as a team and enjoy our time together in order to provide a great atmosphere for our customers.” A major portion of customer satisfaction comes from interacting with the service department, manned by factory certified technicians and backed by a well-stocked parts department with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. The team can also provide service at a boat’s location using the new MarineMax app. Eagerness to get out on the water has kept the department busy with boat preparation and routine maintenance this season, Larsen noted.
“There is such a wonderful camaraderie in this boating community, and we all have one thing in common we love being on the water.”
“Full-service” also refers to MarineMax’s numerous offerings like fishing, (including crabbing and clamming!), fun events and getaways, and boating safety, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to its clients. Throughout the season, team members provide informational and instructional seminars on a variety of topics. All are experienced local boaters who know the area’s waters and which fish populate them.
“Boating safety and education is a crucial component we never stop emphasizing,” Larsen stated. “Especially within the last year, there are so many new boaters on the water. It’s important to stress exercising good knowledge and judgment while enjoying time on the water. We offer boater safety courses to make sure all of our customers feel prepared and at ease going out on their boat. Our captains and staff are also here to help with boater comfort and confidence beyond our courses, and provide assistance and advice.”
Matching customers with the ideal boat for their needs, providing “world-class” service and educational programs, and offering enhancements like special access to trips and more was the goal of MarineMax founder Bill McGill when he started the company some 40 years ago, turning his lifelong passion into success. McGill changed the industry by uniting companies, maximizing efficiencies, and focusing team members on getting customers out on the water.
“Boating opens doors that connect us with family, friends, and places,” said McGill. “It’s not just about buying a boat, it’s about buying a lifestyle and memories. We have an opportunity to change people’s lives, and that’s what drives us. We’re all boaters with such passion for the water we can’t help but share it. We offer multiple platforms beyond boat sales to share our joy and enable our customers to do the same.”
“The future is bright for MarineMax Brick,” added Larsen. “We have a lot of exciting announcements coming this year that I believe will really broaden our horizons and benefit our customers. We’ll have a lot of opportunities, reveal innovation technology, and continue to provide options for any type of boater. I love the challenge of providing the best possible boating experiences and exceeding the expectations of our customers, team members, and shareholders. I’ve been a boater my whole life and this is truly a dream opportunity.”
1500 Riverside Drive North, Brick Township
732.840.2100 / marinemax.com