Lakeside Motor Sports opens new showroom, service facility

Lakeside Motor Sports marine division manager Neil Maneke explains how staffers can help customers design custom watercrafts to purchase online on Wednesday. Lakeside recently unveiled its new, 50,000-square-foot showroom and service facility. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

MORTON TWP. — Management at Lakeside Motor Sports are riding a wave of good feelings following the company’s recent opening of a new, $4-million marine showroom and service facility on 90th Avenue, near Mecosta.

The buildings, which combined total more than 500,000 square feet, are many times the size of the company’s previous digs, said owner Ed Richter. The larger space will allow the company to provide a “one-stop shop” for boating enthusiasts to buy what they need for a day out on the water, and allow the company to hire about 20 new employees in the coming months.

“What I’m looking for is a better customer experience, and I think we’ve found it here,” said Richter, who founded the company nearly 20 years ago. “I tell people, ‘If you can’t find a boat here, you’re not looking.’ We’ve got a staff here who is knowledgeable and understands the process, and now they have facilities to match their skills.”

The new facilities, which are adjacent to Mecosta-Morton Airport, took about six months to build, Richter said. They opened about two weeks ago.

The new showroom allows the company to put almost everything they offer out for customers to peruse, marine division manager Neil Maneke said. More than 30 boats are on display at any given time (up from a maximum of 10 at the previous facility), along with a wide variety of accessories ranging from clothing to sunglasses, life vests to electronics.

A selection of accessories for sale at Lakeside Motor Sports, including sunglasses and clothing, are pictured Wednesday. (pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

No detail goes unaccounted for, Maneke said — a receptionists’ desk near the front door of the showroom is designed to look like the back of an old wooden boat. A room dedicated specifically to boats is designed to look like a dock, he added, with wooden planks arranged in a cross shape that leads from one end to another, and a fleet of watercraft on either side lined up the whole way.

“It’s the exact same way we do it at a boat show,” he said. “You can get off of one boat and get right back on another one. It’s probably the largest boat showroom in Michigan.”

There are other improvements in the new digs that go beyond what an average customer sees. A new storage building houses roughly $3-million worth of boat motors, which Maneke said helps employees custom-build boats for people seeking custom horsepower. Employees are pleased with new offices for all the different departments at the company, and a large conference room that overlooks the showroom, he added.

“We like our staff to do as much training as possible in the offseason, to stay up on the latest trends happening in the industry,” Maneke said.

A new, 10,000-square-foot service area, including 10 service bays, allows Lakeside technicians to perform in-house maintenance, repairs and washing.

“We’ve been behind on our service and this has helped us dramatically,” Maneke said. “I used to have guys scattered in three locations. Now, everything is right here. If they need a part, it’s brought right to them. I had our service brought up in about two weeks. That hasn’t happened in 10 years.

“Now, you can get everything you need, and we can take care of you after you buy from us. It’s a one-stop shop for boaters.”

The company will be hosting an open house at the new buildings, featuring representatives from various manufacturers in the industry, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

A room specifically designed for boats, designed to look like a dock, is part of the new, $4-million showroom recently opened by Lakeside Motor Sports, near Mecosta. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

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