Photographer / Eli Beaverson
In May of 2019, Jarret Silagyi and his wife Lauren purchased Portside Marine Sales and Service in Cicero.
Within a year, a fire had destroyed the boat dealership, the Silagyis were battling serious injuries from a boating accident, and Jarret no longer had his corporate job.
That doesn’t count the pandemic that seemingly brought the world to a standstill earlier this year.
However, the Silagyis’ luck finally turned when Jarret learned there might be a new home available for Portside Marine. That home that would allow the boat dealership to join forces with similar business a few miles away. The two boat dealerships have been serving the Morse, Geist and surrounding areas for over 75 years combined.
“A lot of people didn’t expect us to make it through the fire,” Jarret Silagyi says. “I look back and say, ‘Well, this wasn’t the easiest path, but here we are. And we’re happy to be here.’”
In June of this year, Portside Marine moved to the Lakeview Marina property, and the Silagyis own the separate businesses located on North Hague Road in Noblesville.
And business is booming. As a state-designated essential business, boat sales and service have been in high demand despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been busier than ever,” Silagyi says.
However, the future didn’t look so rosy to Silagyi as he raced up Olio Road from his home in Fishers on October 14, 2019. He was heading to a flame-engulfed Portside Marine at its prior location in Cicero. He didn’t have to guess what he might find when he arrived. The billows of smoke, visible in the sky even as he traveled from miles away, told the story.
“It was a gut-wrenching half-hour drive, seeing smoke and knowing it was the dealership,” Silagyi says.
The fire, caused by a combination of an electric spark and fuel vapors in Portside’s service area, destroyed the business. Employees were safe, and Portside never closed. Another boat dealership owner, Jeff Lingenfelter, offered any help that his business, Lakeview Marina, could provide. Lakeview assisted with getting the word out about Portside’s plans to remain open, moving boats off Portside’s damaged property, providing extra tools, and even referring customers to Portside.
One year prior, Jarret had ended the limousine and bus company he’d owned while also serving as chief operating officer of a paper-shredding company. In the fall of 2019 he and Lauren were battling back after seeing their business go up in flames before their eyes, but bad luck wasn’t done with them yet.
On New Year’s Eve in 2019, a boating accident in Florida left the Silagyis with serious injuries that kept them in the area recovering for two months.
Then, in March of 2020 – right around the time the coronavirus pandemic kicked into high gear – the Silagyis found themselves searching for a new home for Portside, when state officials alerted them that they planned to use Portside’s property as the location for a bridge. Then Jarret’s corporate job ended.
A chance conversation with a friend helped the couple turn the corner. That friend said he knew someone who might be interested in selling his business. And that someone was Lingenfelter, who’d been such a good partner following the fire at Portside.
Portside had found a new home.
Today Portside Marine and Lakeview Marina each remain open. They both deal in new and used boats at the same Noblesville address, but the businesses are separate. Portside sells many fiberglass boats, and Lakeview’s offerings include pontoons and personal watercraft.
“Hopefully customers will see a benefit to our being together, all on one property,” Silagyi says.
While the Silagyis own both businesses, the Lingenfelter family, who opened Lakeview in 1983, remain involved. Jeff and his wife Anita are retiring in August, but there are still five Lingenfelters among the Lakeview staff.
“Both businesses are long-tenured community businesses,” Silagyi says of Portside and Lakeview. “Both names deserve to continue on.”
Silagyi hopes this focus on family continues with his own twin sons, who are toddlers. After all, Jarret and Lauren both grew up in family businesses and as boating enthusiasts – Jarret in Pittsburgh and Lauren near Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
“My wife and I are looking forward to having one focused, family business – something we can carry on for the prior owners and carry on to our own sons,” Silagyi says.
To learn more about Portside Marine Sales and Service, visit portsidemarinesales.com, or call 317-758-5500. For more on Lakeview Marina, visit lakeviewmarina.net, or call 317-773-6885. The dealerships are located at 20901 North Hague Road in Noblesville.