Saturday, June 25, 2022

Boats by George teases a premium boat club venture

George Pensel
Chronicle Staff Writer Zander Frost writes: Boats by George owner George Pensel told The Chronicle that starting “a premium Boat Club…may be something in our future.”

“But first things first…” he hastened to emphasize. “We would have to get approved with the Lake George Park Commission.”

Mr. Pensel said he tried a boat share program in 1990 “at the King Neptune lounge in Lake George Village, but at the time my business was too young, and not enough capital to carry it and get it started.”

What makes it more appealing now? “Well, first of all, it’s more of a proven machine that works. We see it working at Freedom Boat Club,” the international boat sharing franchise that Matt and Becky O’Hara brought to Lake George in 2016. They operate it now in the former Dunham’s Bay Marina, renamed Queen Boat Company.

Plus Mr. Pensel said, “It helps cultivate new business; new owners, people may start out there and then move on.”

“It’s a little different from the rental business, because you’re dealing with somebody who learns and understands what they’re doing,” he said.

Mr. Pensel said he prefers this approach over renting to “somebody new every day. They may not know anything.”

He said, “Freedom Boat Club is a very good boat club, they have nice boats. But there are people that want the premium boat, the Cobalt or the Chris-Craft or the high end. That would be a possible area that we would be very natural to serve.”

Boats by George’s move into LG Forum maybe August 2023

Boats by George’s move into the former Lake George Forum building that George Pensel bought has no completion date.

“An idea would be this time next year. Maybe, maybe not,” Mr. Pensel told The Chronicle.

“I’m not a builder, and I haven’t got all the bids in yet…My expectations would be maybe August of next year.”

That hasn’t tamped his excitement. “This facility is going to allow us to do so much for the boating community.”

“We’ll have seminars, we’ll have boating courses. We have a beautiful facility there. It will be a great event location, and our store is going to be massive. And that whole cafe area will be retail,” he said.

Retail will include “our paddleboards and our watersports products, to souvenirs…We’re very close to the Village and we’ll be seeing some tourism there.”

Mr. Pensel said he still sees tremendous opportunity for growth on Lake George.

He said he was recently “combing the shores” of Lake George with a boat dealer friend from Seattle. “We were saying to ourselves, look at how wide open the market still is,” he laughed.

“There’s a whole lot of old boats out there. There are a lot of docks that will get new boats.”

Does he want to be the one to sell those boats? “Well, yeah, I mean that’s what we do. We’re very good at it. And the seasoned boater wants our brands,” specifically citing Cobalt and Chris-Craft.

“When they trade, they want to move up in the rankings. And there’s no place to go but these brands in the sport fiberglass boats,” he said. — Zander Frost

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