Fla. group buys second North East marina
— A Floridabased investment group recently bought Shelter Cove Yacht Basin & Marina, its second purchase of a Northeast River marina in the last few months.
Galahad Marine Properties, headed up by Dominic Nicosia, purchased Shelter Cove, owned by Woody Jackson, about a month ago. At the end of August, Galahad also purchased McDaniel Yacht Basin, a few miles north of Shelter Cove,
and is currently working with former owner Tommy Trainer during a transition period.
Although neither buyer nor seller would reveal the purchase price, records show Shelter Cove was listed with Grasso Realty, a well-known marina sales firm, for an asking price of $6.7 million.
The sale marks a new chapter in the lives of both Jackson and Nicosia, who have established a friendly, mutual respect for one another.
For Nicosia, the purchase brings him and his investors one step closer in the process of acquiring a network of marinas with the goal of delivering top-notch customer service and similar amenities at each property. At the same time, customers will have access to all of the properties under Galahad’s ownership.
The group expects to settle on a third marina purchase in the lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia around Dec. 3.
“It’s really exciting times for us,” Nicosia said last week.
For Jackson, the sale means he can spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren. In his spare time, he may begin an internship program for young people interested in marine trades.
But, Jackson wants everyone to know he’s not going anywhere for a while.
Jackson and Nicosia have agreed to work together during a transition period of up to two years to allow Jackson to sell the boat inventory that he has already acquired. Meanwhile, Nicosia will be purchasing new inventory as the existing is sold off.
“He’s already been a tremendous help,” Nicosia said of Jackson.
After 45 years in the marine business, Jackson said his customers and his associates are very important to him, which is another reason he’s staying around for a while.
“I really feel good about the sale,” he added. “It was time.”
Neither of Woody and Cheryl Jackson’s two sons, David and Mark, are interested in taking over the marina and boat sales.
“They each have their own careers,” Jackson said.
Once the decision was made, Jackson said he never looked back.
Nicosia, on the other hand, was looking to start a new business.
“Interest rates are low and gas prices are stable, it’s the
right time to do this,” he said. “We looked at about 200 properties before settling here.”
Nicosia noted that negotiations on each of the two recent purchases took about one year to complete.
The new owner will keep the staff and names of Shelter Cove and Jackson Marine Sales for marketing purposes — with one small addition of a Galahad logo to the signage. That’s similar to what they did with signs at McDaniel Yacht Basin.
In the four weeks since the second purchase, both men agreed that transitioning the staffs from both marinas has been a bit challenging.
“We’ve been competitors for years,” Jackson said of the neighboring McDaniel Yacht Basin. “Now, we’re teaching the staff a ‘we’ mentality, not the ‘we’ versus ‘them’ mentality.”
Nicosia said they’ve started referring to McDaniel as the North Dock and to Shelter Cove as the South Dock.
“We have weekly staff meeting that rotate between the two locations,” Nicosia said.
Jackson said he thinks the transition has gone incredibly smooth so far, attributing some of the ease to the fact that the old and new owners share a similar philosophy about customer service and work.
Nicosia promised a few changes, but they will be well thought out in advance, he said.
Between the two marinas now under Galahad ownership and management, there are about 380 existing slips, lots of boats storage, ship’s stores and repair and sales offices.
“We probably have about 25 to 30 full-time employees at the two locations,” Nicosia said.
Jackson, who started in the boat business in Lancaster, Pa., with his father, purchased Shelter Cove Yacht Basin and Marina in 1976.
Over the years, he has made a lot of memories in North East and Cecil County during his time as a business owner in the community — some bad and some good.
Jackson recalled exciting times like when Jackson Marine Sales was named the No. 1 dealer of Chris Craft boats in the world in 1989. Jackson has that moment memorialized in a photograph taken at the awards banquet with himself surrounded by celebrities like attorney F. Lee Bailey, TV personality Ed McMahon and Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan.
But there’s also been a few times he’d like to forget, such as the large fire that swept through one of the buildings on the marina property in 1989 and did an estimated $1.5 million in damage, including burning several boats.
And then there’s the time Hurricane Isabel dropped waist-deep water all over the property in 2003. Jackson has worked through periods of extremely high gas prices and high interest rates as well.
“Through the years, I’ve learned that Americans really do cherish their leisure time,” Jackson said, noting they find a way to carve out time for it.
Nicosia is looking forward to the future in the marine business.
“I see it on a steady growth pattern,” he said.
Dominic Nicosia, of Galahad Marine Properties, recently purchased Shelter Cover Yacht Basin & Marina from Woody Jackson.