Boating Industry magazine has named Chessie Marine Sales, located at 706 Augustine Herman Highway in Elkton, to its Top 100 Dealers list for 2018. It’s the fifth consecutive year the family-owned business has been so honored. The 27-year-old business operated out of Melissa and Bryan Buckland’s home before moving to its current location in 2000.
“It took a long time for people to stop saying, ‘The old Lake’s Auto Body,’” Melissa said of the previous owner. “We were a pretty small operation for 10 years. Then we said, ‘If we’re going to take this to the next level, we needed dirt.’”
Even though the store is not along the waterfront, Bryan said it’s the perfect location.
“Seventeen-thousand cars go by here every day,” he said, adding many of those are en route to one of the five rivers in Cecil County. “They have to go by us.”
Chessie Marine Sales offers Malibu, axis and Nautique craft for waterskiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing. Cypress Cay and Premier pontoon boats are also on the lot and next year the Bucklands plan to add Cobalt runabout boats to their product line.
The award recognizes the business for its sales and service as well as how the industry is promoted. Jonathan Sweet, director of the Top 100 program, said the award is about more than revenue — which topped $3.5 billion among the hall of fame honorees.
“We’re also looking at factors including overall business acumen, marketing strategies, service department efficiency and profitability, customer service and dedication to the industry,” Sweet said.
Bryan said it amazes him that Chessie Marine Sales won again.
“You see these mega-dealerships with hundreds of employees and seven locations,” he said of the competition. “I believe our team is what makes us special.”
He added he figured the first award was a fluke.
“The second one was cool,” he said.
“And when you get that email (about the win) it’s an adrenaline rush,” Melissa added.
But she said it’s all about the company goal.
“We’ve been helping families make memories for more than 25 years,” she said.