Port Alberni Dealer Achieves Elite Yamaha Supplier Status
PORT ALBERNI – Mike Hudson directed Harbor Boathouse in uncharted territory and in a new direction since buying the company in 2006, with outstanding results.
Not only has the company reached new heights during the Covid pandemic, but they have become exclusive dealers for a trio of high-end boats. Port Boat House has also received Elite status from Yamahaone of 23 dealerships across the country of their outboards, ATVs, side-by-sides and other power products.
Port Boat House is a full-service marine dealership that includes boats, equipment and parts, mechanical services, and over 50,000 square feet of storage facilities where customers leave their vessels during the winter. As Hudson says, they don’t just sell boats, they sell craftsmanship.
Hudson grew up in Port Alberni and was a Chartered Accountant in Victoria when he decided to return home in 2006 and bought the business from Jan and Bob Colewho founded it in 1980. Since then he has steered the business in a new direction by moving away from historical brands and becoming an exclusive dealer for Ranger Tugs and cutting water and North River aluminum boats. They also offer boats from Suncatcher and G3.
The Coles had established a recognized and respected maritime business, focusing on service and value while establishing a strong base of commercial customers in fishing stations and whale watching operations. After the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Hudson knew he had to change as some boat manufacturers did not survive and sport fishing resorts saw a rapid decline in corporate retirements.
“We have refocused our efforts on our relationships with previous manufacturers who introduced the Ranger Tugs, which was a new line, and they asked us to represent them in Canada,” he recalls. “They had a 25ft diesel boat, which really looked like a small motorhome on the water. We’ve taken it to boat shows, and have since added 27, 29, 31, now a 43ft model.
A few years later they added Cutwater, which has similar features to the Ranger that are “like an RV on the water, but they are sportier and faster on the water. They are both diesel-powered boats that can be trailered and come with lots of features for people to enjoy an overnight trip on the water,” he says, adding that Port Boat House is now their most major reseller in North America.
In recent years, the North River Top quality welded aluminum boats have been put into service, and Hudson adds “we have a number of fishing resort and lodge customers who have purchased several boats from North River to become part of their fleet.”
New Port Boat House customers receive a two-day orientation session, explaining how to operate the vessel and use it safely.
“For many new boaters, mooring the boat is one of their biggest concerns,” he observes. “The Ranger and Cutwater boats have bow and stern thrusters, so we spend time teaching customers how to moor the boats safely.”
Port Boat House also helps set up ‘get-together’ events for customers at various locations around the coast, which include vendor demonstrations and social gatherings, including in some cases fishing tournaments.
“It’s a fun business,” he notes. “Our customers are satisfied when they enter. It’s not like going out and buying groceries or other necessities. Buying a boat is something that brings joy to people.
Especially during the Covid pandemic, as people have recognized that they can get out on the water, into the fresh air and avoid being cooped up in their homes.
“The pandemic saw people staying closer to home and they were looking for outdoor activities, things to do in their own backyards, so to speak,” he observes. “The marine industry has benefited, as have the recreational vehicle and home improvement industries.”
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