Riding the Wake
Socks Marina Celebrates 60 Years on Webster Lake
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Summer is always a charming season, and this year is surprisingly no exception. Even though maintaining a healthy distance from others has resulted in many canceled summer festivities, it has not been able to stop day-cations on the lake. According to Ryan Coverstone, the owner of Socks Marina, a hidden gem on Webster Lake, more people than ever are seeking solace on the water.
“They’re taking their families to the lake,” he says. “What a great place to make memories and to social distance!”
Socks Marina, which is enjoying its 60th season, was initially purchased by the Coverstone family in 1975.
“When I was 4 or 5 years old, I used to spend time here on the lake with my grandmother Jean, in her wooden canoe, swimming, fishing, waving at the Dixie Boat, Coverstone says. “My grandfather and two of his brothers owned it, my father and lot of his cousins worked here at that time.”
His parents, Dino and Jeannie Coverstone, purchased the Marina in 2008.
Ever since then, it has been owned off and on by family members.
Growing up on the lakes instilled a love for the water in Coverstone at a young age, which has proven to have a fundamental influence in just about every aspect of his working life to this point.
“The experiences and relationships I’ve made over my career have given me everything I need to be good at this,” Coverstone says. “I have worked on every side of the boating industry. I’ve tested, designed, engineered, welded, and have been a factory-trained technician and worked for a supplier to the industry. I’ve been on all sides of it. It has given me the knowledge to be able to answer, or find an answer to, all of my customer’s questions.”
Since rejoining the marina three years ago, Coverstone has been working to enhance the family business. Of course, none of this would be possible without his employees.
“We’ve done a real good job here and we have a great staff,” Coverstone says. “We couldn’t do any of this without them.”
Ryan’s teenaged son also works there, marking the fourth generation of Coverstones to be involved in the business.
Thanks to the Marina’s advantageous position on Webster Lake, Coverstone and his team have the ability to service the surrounding lakes as well.
“Our main [focus] is within 10 miles of here — the Barbee chain, Tippy, Dewart, Knapp, Syracuse, Wawasee, Webster,” Coverstone adds.
However, the Socks Marina customer base stretches as far as Angola, Warsaw, as well as Noble and Whitley counties.
“It’s a great sphere and some really interesting communities around those lakes that are fun to interact with, even if it’s once or twice a year,” he says.
As a full-service marina, this business has a retail side that offers a wide range of new and used boats. They offer TRIFECTA and Misty Harbor Pontoons, Polar Kraft Aluminum Boats and power them with Mercury and Tohatsu outboards. —which can be viewed in their year-round showroom. They also carry boat accessories and parts. For the day-out crowd, Socks Boat Rental offers pontoon, fishing boat, canoe, and kayak rentals. They maintain a private boat launch right on Webster Lake, which is available for a nominal fee.
Not only do they service and sell boats, but they also offer summer trailer and winter boat storage as well.
“Starting after Labor Day, we bring everything in for the winter,” he says. “We winterize all makes and models, anything outside the standard service that our technicians notice goes immediately on an estimate saying, ‘Hey, you really should take care of this over the winter so it’s not an issue in the spring’, and store it — whether that’s in one of our storage buildings or shrink wrap and store it here on our property. We can also deliver it to a customer’s storage facility.”
Along with a long list of products, the marina has Factory-Trained technicians on-staff for their customers’ convenience.
“We like to be ready if they need anything,” Coverstone says. “We can get it in, get it fixed and get it back on the water.”
The maintenance offered by the marina runs the gamut from simple fixes, like a burnt-out lightbulb, to the most complicated, including on the lake emergency repairs.
Despite the longevity of this business, there are people that don’t know it exists. However, Socks Marina — which is named after its first owner, Francis “Sock” Shear — has served generations of water lovers.
“There are families on the lake who have been coming here as long as they can remember,” Coverstone says. “I have customers older than me who have been coming here since they were kids. All their stories and memories of Webster Lake and Socks Marina over the years. That’s what makes it fun.”
The team at Socks Marina enjoys the work they do. However, the best part of the job for Coverstone is the people he comes in contact with every day.
“Nothing happens here without having a customer to do it for,” he says. “We care about our customer’s time they choose to spend at the lake and want to be able to help them with whatever they need. That is one of my favorite parts: the customers. We get new customers every year. Some have been here for generations. They come in even if they don’t need anything. On a Saturday during the summer, they’ll stop in. We sit and drink a cup of coffee and see how they’ve been doing.”
Customer satisfaction is Coverstone’s aim.
“The best compliment I get from a customer is when they send someone else in, ’Hey you gotta go see the guys at Socks. They’ll take care of you,’” he says. “That’s one of the nicest things that any of our customers say or do for us, is by trusting us enough to tell their friend.”
As far as Coverstone is concerned, his customers are a part of the Socks Marina family. “It’s no different from having a place on the lake,” he says. “Neighbors help neighbors. That’s what it feels like here.”
Visit Socks Marina at 60 EMS W17 Ln., North Webster. They are open Monday through Saturday 9 to 11:30 and 12:30 to 5. You can contact them by calling 574-834-2894 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your fall services and storage. To view their inventory or learn more about their upcoming demo days, check them out online at socksmarina.com.