Gordon Bay Marine puts the “personal” in personal watercraft (and virtually every other kind of boat) sales and service.
By Martha Uniacke Breen
When you first visit the sprawling four-acre Gordon Bay Marine compound, with its state-of-the-art service bays, 5,000 sq.ft. showroom displaying dozens of beautiful new boats, and row after row of service bays at the water’s edge, it’s hard to believe that all this started as a small cottage business – literally.
Back in 1960, founder Bruce Hatherley began a one-man boat repair service out of his family boathouse on the north end of Lake Joe, near Mactier. He soon acquired a reputation among the neighbours for his skills, and his little marina began to grow… and grow some more. Eventually he put in a gas pump, and there was no looking back.
About ten years ago, Bruce’s son Ben took over the job of general manager – it was a natural progression, since Ben had been helping dad out since he was a kid. But Bruce has no intention of stepping back, and at 80-something he is still a very active part of day-to-day business.
Today, Gordon Bay Marine is one of the largest boat sales and service dealerships in Canada, and the only one that carries some 14 different brands, at every level from everyday touring boats to aluminum fishing craft to the snazziest prestige-marque racers. It’s been named one of Boating Industry’s Top 100 dealers in North America, a Marine Industry Top CSI (Customer Service Index) Dealer, a top dealer for the Malibu/Axis brand, and many other accolades.
And now that it’s safe for people to come out again, the company is looking forward to welcoming cottagers – both old friends and customers, and new faces – to take a tour of the showroom, have a snack at the onsite food truck, browse the cottage shop, or just stroll around and enjoy the view.
Gordon Bay’s cottage shop is a great reason to stop by and visit in its own right. Here, you’ll find lots of cottagey decor items, Muskoka chairs, candles, barbecues – in fact just about everything you need for fun at the cottage and more. Nearby, there’s a great selection of ATVs and other power vehicles to check out, as well as complete sauna equipment. And of course, Gordon Bay also carries a full selection of wakeboards, waterskis and other watersports gear.
There are other boat retailers that can sell you a boat; some even offer them online. But as an independent family-run company, Gordon Bay’s priority doesn’t end there. Every sale includes a complete package with safety equipment, lines and even bumpers. Convenient and competitive in-house financing and trade-in allowances are available. And everything you’ll need after your new boat arrives at your dock, from service to cleaning and winter storage, is part of Gordon Bay’s comprehensive service offerings. Many GBM sales representatives have been with the company for years, know their product extensively, and make a point of remembering their customers by name, since so many customers return later to have their new purchases detailed, stored, or to add to their fleet.
Gordon Bay Marine got its start as the best place around to get your boat serviced, and 60 years later, it still is. Their technicians are all manufacturer-trained and certified, use top-of-the-line diagnostic tools supplied by each manufacturer, and each has his or her own laptop for making quick and thorough service appointments. And of course, you can schedule tuneups, cleaning services and other routine maintenance for virtually every make of boat on the market.
Let’s say your boat breaks down at your own dock, and you can’t bring it in to the shop. Don’t worry – GBM makes house calls! Boathouse calls, that is. In most cases, the technician will be able to diagnose and fix the problem right there; if not, they’ll tow it back to the shop, fix it and bring it back.
Maybe your dock is a little further away – perhaps in Haliburton or Sudbury, or you just need service in a hurry. Both Bruce and Ben are fully licensed float plane pilots, and offer flying marine service on request. It’s all in a day’s work for GBM.
But great sales and service is only part of the Gordon Bay story. The company also provides quality rental boats – from powerboats to aluminum fishing boats, and a wide variety of models in between. If you’re located anywhere on the Big Three, you can reserve for a weekend, a week, a month or longer.
Want to learn how to waterski or wakeboard? The company has partnered with Muskoka Wake, an elite watersports school that uses brand-new Malibu and Axis wakeboats provided by Gordon Bay Marine. The school offers lessons, camps and private training, from the Muskoka lakes to Collingwood and Simcoe. It’s a great option when you buy a water-skiing or wakeboarding boat, to ensure you learn the sport safely and get the very most out of your new boat.
Along with sales and service departments, there also are a number of first-rate specialty shops on the Gordon Bay grounds. There’s a gel shop that can take care of all those little (or not-so-little) dings and scrapes on gel finishes, returning them to sparkling like-new condition. The onsite top shop creates custom covers and enclosures for every size of boat, including Bimini tops, or top-quality repairs to your existing top. There’s even a specialty graphics department, which can add your boat’s license numbers to its side, write its name in script on the stern, or reproduce a company logo.
Some years ago, the Hatherleys added a watertaxi service as a sideline, and for local cottagers it’s now an indispensable part of the business. It’s great for ferrying guests to visit friends who live on islands, or a convenience if you need a pick-up or delivery. You could say it’s a lakeside version of Uber and Uber Eats, rolled into one.
At the end of the season, you can store your boat in Gordon Bay’s secure storage facility; they’ll take care of all the details of tucking your baby up for the winter. Come spring, they’ll bring it right to your dock, ready for another year of great boating in Muskoka.
You’ve got a standing invitation to boat or drive by the Gordon Bay Marine compound this summer, whether you’re thinking of a new boat (or trading up to something better), looking for a reliable and friendly service provider for your existing boat, or you just want to drop in at the cottage shop for a couple of cottage-themed throw pillows. As far as Gordon Bay Marine is concerned, you’re family – and they’re looking forward to seeing you.