Local Business Gets Customers Ready for the Lake Life
Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Necessity may be known as the mother of invention, but it is also a pretty good reason to start a business. Shane and Lisa Reffett exemplify this with their business, Rochester Boat Company, LLC.
“We started the business because we couldn’t get our own boat lift and dock installed at our house on the lake,” Lisa recalls.
The boat lifts and docks sold and installed by Rochester Boat Company provide a locally-based service for property owners. These docks, lifts and other devices are removed for the winter and then reinstalled when the lakes thaw for spring. That means Rochester Boat Company crews are often working in 30-degree water to get their customers ready for the boating season.
Many of the people who use their services have second homes on the lake, Lisa explains. These Rochester Boat Company customers escape to their second homes to get away from stressful jobs and demanding lifestyles. The seasonal service of installing and removing the docks and apparatuses gives their customers peace of mind and the reassurance that the job will be completed correctly.
“We want to provide quality service, quality products and quality staff training that provides the customer the best service, and gives our customers what they need,” the Reffetts say.
Their full-time and seasonal part-time staff members service their customers with quality products and courtesy, along with safe procedures. They are expected to follow the rules that govern the products Rochester Boat Company sells and the services it provides, the owners say.
“People who work for us have pride in what they deliver to the customer,” the Reffetts say.
Opportunities are offered to the staff for professional development. Technicians, for example, can opt to take online national certifications for Suzuki and Mercury engines. The sales team is encouraged to attend workshops, dealer meetings and boat shows.
What started as a side business in 2009 began to grow as other lakefront property owners began calling for docks and related accessories. The Reffetts merged their new business, and purchased other pier and lift services on Lake Manitou. Three storage buildings totaling 33,000 square feet were added to operations beginning in 2011, and a showroom was built to highlight the lake products offered and marine repair services. The business expanded again in 2014, adding more boat brands to their available products.
Today Rochester Boat Company still offers the same services as well as new Crest pontoon sales, Mercury and Suzuki engine sales and service, Shorestation, LakeShore and Ryco boat lift sales, and storage. Rochester Boat Company is the only dealer of new pontoons in Fulton County.
A new venture starting Memorial Day is pontoon, kayak and paddleboard rental.
“We got a significant number of calls asking for this,” Lisa says. “We were tired of telling people no.”
At the same time, the Reffetts were careful to not grow their business in a way that could be detrimental to the excellent customer service they provide. Understanding their resource capacities and the time needed to complete proposed projects for customers allowed them to turn down jobs that didn’t fit into their current operations.
Their customers appreciate the quality products and great customer service, Shane says, as evidenced by the repeat business Rochester Boat Company enjoys year after year. To him, it is an indication that their focus on top-of-the-line service and quality is the right way to do business.
Rochester Boat Company is a true family business, Lisa says. It started with her uncle doing the books and her aunt answering the phones, and later incorporated her sister, mother and son. Family provided a strong support system as the business was established and grew.
Shane grew up in Rochester and worked at Smitty’s Marina. He was an engineer with Navistar. Lisa also grew up in Rochester, and spent time with her grandparents at the lake and her aunt and uncle at their house on Treasure Island.
“I don’t remember a time not being on the lake,” she says.
Rochester Boat Company is located at 410 North State Road 25 in Rochester. For service or more information, call 574-223-2675 or visit rochesterboatcompany.com.