2016 Winter Newsletter
It has been a wonderful start to the new year. We were fortunate to take an extended vacation with friends to the sunny Pacific shores of Mexico. Consequently, this was the first year in nearly twenty that Graham did not attend the Toronto Boat Show . We hope you were able to visit the show to be inspired for the upcoming summer season. The relatively quiet months of January and February affords us a little time for some R&R, but also an opportunity to reflect on the past year to develop a vision for the coming season and beyond. We have had extension deliberations as to where we wish to see our family run business in the next five years.
Some of you may not realize Wright’s Marina Limited is in its’ third generation of ownership. After WWII Karrie’s grandmother, Elaine, decided to open a small store and sell gas and boating items while her grandfather, George, ran his commercial fishing vessels on Georgian Bay. George was an astute business man and foresaw the decline of the commercial fishing industry. He promptly sold his rights and invested in the marina vision. By 1950 the store sold Imperial fuel and ran water taxi to the many fish camps and cottages on the outer islands. They grew the business to include boat rentals, Johnson motor sales and repairs in the old Fisherman’s Coop (parts and service building today). He later disassembled a highway bridge and used the lumber to build docks, setting them far out from shore and backfilling to ensure sufficient water during fluctuations and to enable large cruising boats a safe wharf for mooring. The small store was extended and two waterfront sheds were added for boat storage.
Their three children, Doug, Reg and Linda helped with the marina during the summer months. Later Doug worked for the Britt department of highways and for the local Imperial Oil depot and married a French school teacher- Doreen. Reginald married an American dental hygienist upon his graduation from Dentistry at U of T in 1965 and settled in Parry Sound. Linda became an x-ray technician through the Parry Sound hospital and married her sweetheart Richard. They moved to London ON and later to Vancouver Island where Elaine and George spent many winters.
In 1971 Doreen and Doug bought the business. Doug became a master mechanic and Doreen assumed the role of accountant and took over the duties of the store from Elaine. During the next few winters Doug sold and repaired Bombardier snowmobiles. Karrie and her older sister Kim have fond memories of wonderful times exploring the outer islands by boat and on the sleds. Doreen and Doug expanded the marina to include the five front finger transient cruiser docks with 30 Amp power, showers/washrooms, and developed the upper deck area for boaters. With highway improvements some soil and blasted rock was deposited across the road to create the upper parking lot. They built two red storage sheds, a pigeon hole steel building and moved the main waterfront shed to the back property, tore down the aging boat shed and expanded the docks in front of the store/shop for mooring more cottage boats.
In the summer of 1979 Kim was about to start work at the marina store until she received word of being hired on by Grundy Provincial Park. It was at this time that Karrie began her love affair with the marina. Starting at age fourteen, she worked alongside her mother and grandmother learning the ropes, working with and teaching other student employees the skills required for the summer months until September 1987. In 1989 Karrie graduated from dental hygiene and started working with her uncle Reg in Parry Sound. Two years later she moved to Mississauga for work and met a young Toronto firefighter- Graham Lacey- while playing on a slo-pitch ball team. They married in 1993 with the births of Carson and Madison to follow a few years later. It was during this time that Graham suggested they should move north and buy the marina as Karrie’s parents were approaching retirement age. The plans were laid for purchase in 2000.
The spring of 2000 arrived with Graham working alongside Doug, learning and absorbing the challenges associated with owning one’s own business. Karrie worked at a dental office in Parry Sound four days a week and assumed her mother’s role as accountant and store manager. Graham became avidly involved in the Ontario Marina Operators’ Association/Boating Ontario, later to be elected President of the Association. He remains as an advisor to the Board of Directors. Karrie and Graham embraced the ‘green’ aspect of marina ownership, adopting the ‘best practices’ approach to the environment, sustainability and customer needs. In 2010 they were awarded the national CASBA (Canadian Safe Boating Award) for ‘Green Marina’ of the year by the Canadian Safe Boating Council. During their fifteen years they continued to grow the business: green grass and flower beds at wharf, barbeques, picnic area, decks, hydraulic trailer, 10 ton forklift, expansion of the washrooms/showers, more parking/boat storage, west end steel docks, more seasonal dockage, replacement steel docks, storage area, more potable water, gas/diesel tanks, dispensers and gas docks, 50 Amp service, and dual pump out to name a few. Along the way they have been fortunate to have a wonderful crew of employees to meet their clients’ boating and cottage needs.
The last few years we have had many discussions and researched various long-term possibilities for the marina. Since the fourth generation remains in school, we have made the difficult decision to look outside our family in search of new ownership to continue with the success of the marina. It typically takes several years for the process of locating a qualified buyer and making a successful transition to be accomplished. We have enlisted the services of a realtor specializing in marina sales, well respected by industry stakeholders. It is important to state that this is not a ‘fire-sale’. Our intention is to ensure that Wright’s Marina continues into the future with proper leadership; building on the success and legacy of 65 years of our family owned business!
Enjoy the winter months! Wishing you health and happiness in 2016. We look forward to seeing you in the Spring.
Karrie and Graham Lacey