Seasoned skippers and first-time fishermen alike have taken to the water for boating season, and Tim Figgins has worked with the gamut of them.
Case in point: At Boat Boys LLC, employees are repairing a craft that nearly sunk in Lake Erie this spring and simultaneously are rehabbing a Sylvan deck boat to take on a Buckeye theme; in the Boat Boys showroom, more than 40 fishing and pontoon boats for sale are on display.
The business, located in a partially hidden lot at the end of South 22nd Street in Newark, was founded in 1997. Figgins took the helm two years ago at the request of the former owner, he said, and has since worked against the dark economic climate to build business: First, by placing prominence on the business' website -- Boat Boys ships parts across the world thanks to online orders -- and also by beefing up customer retention, making a point of following up with owners after their boats are serviced.
A Northridge High School graduate who spent many summers as a child with his grandparents on Buckeye Lake, Figgins is no stranger to the boating world.
He still makes an effort to go to the lake every weekend, if possible, with his son, Trey.
"Trey and I go to fishing tournaments all the time," said Figgins, who hopes Trey, 8 -- already an honorary Boat Boys employee -- will get into the boating business someday.
Boat Boys specializes in fishing boats, displaying gems like the 250-horsepower Skeeter i-Class bass boat -- designed with help from NASA and retailing for $62,000. Pontoon boats also occupy an area of the display room, and used boats continue to be popular as people look for ways to save.
These days, service is a big part of business, Figgins said. In a sour economy just beginning to show signs of promise, he has seen a number of customers with requests to fix up their old boats.
"It's phenomenal for the middle of June when we're seeing the service board this packed," Figgins said, referring to the dry erase board in the business' small office, where a record of current customers and their service needs is displayed.
His philosophy is to individualize his services to each customer's needs, with the first-person knowledge that making the most of a limited time is key.
"Boating season is so short. You've got to have someone who's going to get you in, get you some answers and get you back out on the water," he said.
Abbey Roy can be reached at (740) 328-8546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.