By Brooks Rexroat
After putting hundreds of boats in the water, the owners of Chattanooga-based TRC Yachts decided to launch a new location.
The three-year-old company entered the Nashville market July 1, starting out with two boats for sale next to a Hendersonville marina.
That supply is multiplying, though -- a month later there are 10 boats on site, and owner Craig Clark said he expects sales of about $5 million this year.
Supplies are expected to grow quickly when the model year change finishes, said his wife and co-owner Jenny Clark.
Mr. Clark said he expects to do about $15 million in sales this year at the company's home site next to Island Cove Marina on Highway 58.
The Nashville operation could hit its goals by selling a handful of boats which can fetch upwards of $1 million.
The bulk of TRC's sales come from the $25,000 to $60,000 sport boat category, he said, and the line extends down to $7,500 wave runners.
Nashville sales, Mr. Clark said, should key off weekenders coming from places such as Brentwood -- a model that will mirror the Chattanooga operation's sales to customers from North Georgia and Atlanta who want to spend weekends on the lake or river.
Staff Photo by Patrick Smith
TRC Yacht Sales service technician Darren Johnson attaches the fly bridge to a new Silverton 36-foot yacht. TRC Yacht Sales is expanding in the Nashville area.
The location was a matter of chance. Mr. Clark came in contact with the son of speedboat champion and Anchor High Marina owner Mitch Miller. After a few discussions, Mr. Clark and Mr. Miller realized they had similar interests and decided to work together.
The TRC location sits on Old Hickory Lake and adjoins Mr. Miller's marina, which is undergoing expansion. That makes a perfect environment for boat sales, Mr. Clark said.
"It's a similar marina to (Island Cove), but a little smaller," Mr. Clark said. "It's 100 percent full right now, but he's building new docks and adding about 50 slips."
The new location employed three sales representatives and a service technician when it opened, but Mr. Clark said he expects the store to grow in a manner similar to the Chattanooga site. After starting as a two-person business in 2004, the company has grown to a staff of 15, Mr. Clark said.
Mr. Miller said the set up is off to a good start.
"We had our first in-water boat show last weekend, and we moved five boats the first weekend of sales," he said. "Nashville is a great market. Things should go well."
After renovating the marina, Mr. Miller is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on future expansion plans.
"We're expanding the marina and expanding the dry storage to accommodate more of these boats," he said.
TRC's strong sales on yachts costing less than $100,000 are bucking a national trend, said Kristin B. Thompson, spokeswoman for the Yacht Brokers Association of America.
"People on the lower end of the sales range with yachts under $100,000 are having less success than those selling the larger yachts," Mrs. Thompson said. "People who can afford the larger yachts have not been affected by the economy and stock market, and they're still buying."
The company has seen international sales increase, with recent online orders coming from countries such as Canada, England and Spain. But for now, the focus is on breaking into Nashville.
"We hope to be a key player in the market," Mr. Clark said. "We're bringing three brands that have never been in Nashville."
Mrs. Clark said those brands -- Four Winns, Silverton Yachts and Baja Performance Boats -- will be a key to the company's success.
"They're good quality products," she said. "It won't take people long to realize that. It didn't take people in Chattanooga long to realize that."
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