In a short period of time, Performance Boat Center has become one of the premier destinations in the country for sales, service and on-water fun.
Performance Boat Center’s Brett Manire thinks out loud and talks fast. It seems like one of his favorite questions is, “What if?”
When he and business partner Mark Waddington asked, “What if?,” they bought a boat dealership and founded Performance Boat Center, the fastest growing boat sales and service facility in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. When Manire and his top local service competitor asked, “What if” about merging the region’s two primary service providers, they joined forces, making Performance Boat Center even stronger by adding veteran crew members from the Nauti Marine and Budweiser Select offshore racing teams. When the Performance Boat Center offshore racing team won its first race in 2016, the team asked, “What if we keep racing?” it went on to win the 2016 Superboat International world and national championships in the highly competitive Superboat class.
To cap off the company’s successful year, Performance Boat Center won the 2016 Business Partner of the Year Award from the Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council. But let’s backtrack a little to how Manire and Waddington got their start.
While attending the University of Nebraska, Manire worked for a small boat dealership in Lincoln, Neb., that sold Baja performance boats. He established a relationship with Waddington, selling him a number of Baja performance boats. Waddington had been highly successful in the technology sector. Manire delivered a number of Bajas to the Lake of the Ozarks region and after graduating, Manire decided to relocate to the popular boating spot in Missouri.
Manire took a job with a group called Performance Boat Brokerage, but it didn’t take long before he realized that he didn’t like the way the company did business. Waddington had told Manire that if he ever wanted to get into his own boat sales and service business Waddington would back him, so Manire made some inquiries about buying out the company. The owners were interested in selling so Manire called Waddington to ask if he was ready to go into business together.
“I said, ‘I’d like to meet. We have the chance to buy this company,” recalled Manire. “We met and in 30 days we owned the company with all the employees, etc.”
That was in 2011 and today, Performance Boat Center is the best known marine sales and service facility on the Lake of the Ozarks. In 2013, the company bought an old marina, demolished it and rebuilt on the site with the current facilities. The site has four buildings that house a 15,000 square-foot showroom, a 15,000 square-foot service shop, a 20,000-square-foot storage facility and a 30’ x 65’ paint booth. The dealership has 25 full-time employees. The company also has just shy of 50,000 square feet of storage about 15 minutes away in Camdenton, Mo.
Performance Boat Center is the nation’s largest dealer for Cigarette Racing Team and Sunsation Powerboats and sells Princess Yachts and Skater Powerboats. The facility offers full service including paint and fiberglass work, but one thing that makes Performance Boat Center such a desirable destination is the other amenities it offers. The Redhead yacht club includes all the moorings, two swimming pools and the Redhead lakeside grill, an upscale restaurant plus long- and short-term rental accommodations. Manire and Waddington take an all-inclusive approach to making their business one of the most popular gathering spots in the country, not just the region.
As Performance Boat Center was establishing itself as a service facility and earning the respect and trust of local boaters, Manire would frequently talk with Myrick Coil, who was running the shop at Nauti-Marine, the other well-known service facility in the area and home to Dave Scott’s famous offshore racing team. Frequently the conversation would turn to, “What if we were working together?”
“We approached Dave Scott and he said, ‘If Myrick and Lance want to do it, I won’t hold them back,’” said Manire. In late 2013, the deal was made for Performance Boat Center to acquire Nauti-Marine. Lance and Myrick Coil and Craig Amptmeyer joined the Performance Boat Center crew and have been there ever since. Scott recently sold his Mystic catamaran, but still has a 42’ Fountain and a Sea Ray and is a Performance Boat Center customer.
It’s easy to tell when the owner of a dealership has a true passion for the water and Manire’s is clearly evident. The 37-year-old and his sister Megan grew up as the kids of an Air Force officer, Bill Manire, and his wife B.J. The family moved around the country, but there was always one constant. “We were near some kind of body of water and we always had a boat,” said Manire. Today his sister and parents come down to visit and the get-togethers always involve boating. Manire is married to his wife Mackenzie, who enjoys boating and going on poker runs. She was an Offshoreonly.com boater girl of the month last year. Waddington is married to his wife Rachel and they have two children, a son Tyler, who recently graduated from the University of Missouri and a daughter Jaime who is a senior at the University of Nebraska.
When Manire first arrived in the Lake of the Ozarks, the economy was still struggling to recover from the 2009 collapse and Manire started selling repossessed and short sale boats. Some of the first new models he started with were from Outerlimits, and the success was limited because the manufacturer also sells factory direct. Performance Boat Center sold some Statement center consoles, but eventually migrated to Cigarette Racing Team, Sunsation and Skater.
The relationship with Cigarette has been especially strong because of company president Skip Braver. “If someone tells me I’ll have a boat in XX days, I wouldn’t always believe him,” said Manire. “But I always believe Skip Braver.” Last year Performance Boat Center hosted the Cigarette owners rendezvous and will do so again this year on Father’s Day Weekend.
The final “What If” was the entry into offshore racing with the Skater 388 raceboat powered by Sterling Performance Superboat-class engines. The company had been successful in rigging and setting up V-bottoms and Coil and Manire thought that they could do the same with the catamaran. After an educational debut at the 2015 Superboat International Key West championships, Coil and his crew spent the winter moving weight and rebalancing the boat to get the setup right. Performance Boat Center came to an agreement with renowned throttleman John Tomlinson to run the boat with Coil.
Before the season opener in Cocoa Beach, Fla., Tomlinson flew out to the Performance Boat Center headquarters to run the boat with Coil. “Johnny liked the setup and once we won Cocoa Beach, we tried the next race,” said Manire. “We won that and tried the next race. We won that and decided we had to keep going.” The team, which is owned by Waddington and sponsored by Jimmy Johns sandwich shops (Jimmy John Liautaud is a Performance Boat Center customer), will run the full SBI season in 2017.
In addition to racing in 2017, Performance Boat Center will again be the title sponsor for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, the Lake Race offshore event, the Support Your Troops poker run and a couple of fun runs. The company will participate in a handful of other poker runs in the coming year, participating in a variety of boats including the team raceboat. They often auction off the back seats in the raceboat and donate the proceeds to charity.
As the company continues to evolve, Manire and Waddington want Performance Boat Center to be looked at as a facility that serves boats and boaters from around the country. Could there be a time when we see more Performance Boat Centers around the United States? A “What if?” conversation could be taking place right now.