By Kim Kisner, Contributing Writer
This is the story about a company that got its start in 1973 as a small bait shop on Long Lake in Traverse City, owned and run by husband and wife, Warren and Dorothy Leman.
Fast forward fifty years, and it’s now a full-service dealership in Interlochen that sells four brands of boats, pontoons, watercraft, snowmobiles and all the appropriate gear with 20+ employees, a 12,000-square-foot sales building, a 7,600-foot service building, and many storage buildings.
Meet Long Lake Marina, now run by the second generation, Paul Leman, and his wife Heather.
“My parents were city dwellers who wanted to get the heck out of the traffic and bustle and move north, so they found the bait shop, bought it, and ran it successfully for many years,” said Paul. “Most of the family have worked here over time, and I consider all who work here now family.”
Paul attributes the success to three things.
First, he points to the unique level of personal service they provide that is born from this family mentality.
Second, he says success comes from doing what you love and loving what you sell and service. “I have a passion for every sport we sell,” he said. “I started snowmobiling and boating as a kid. I’m coming up on 55 years old and still can’t get enough.”
Third, Paul says it’s the people. “I really like people and I think you need that to be successful in a business like this. Our entire staff feels the same and goes above and beyond not because they have to, but because they want to.”
Long Lake Marina originally sold a variety of boats and brought in snowmobiles in the late 70s but after a time, went back to focusing only on watercraft. After the recession, they were looking to diversify and brought in Arctic Cat snowmobiles in 2010. They provide sales, service, apparel, lubricants, oils, helmets, and gear around the sleds.
The marina is located at end of an ungroomed section of the Betsy River Trail. One could ride to the groomed trail and easily get to Cadillac, Manistee, and virtually anywhere in Leelanau County.
Paul and Heather began running the business twenty years ago and over the years they’ve dealt with people from all over the country, and multiple generations.
“My parents had families they serviced in the 70s 80s and 90s and we are now servicing their kids,” said Paul. “In fact, my dad started storing a boat in 1973 for a customer and we stored that boat up through 2018. We all shed a tear when we let go of that boat because it had been with us for forty-four years.”
When asked what the future for Long Lake Marina looks like, Paul says managed growth with an emphasis on keeping it family oriented. “I don’t strive to be the number one dealer, I strive to be here for our customers and provide the best service hands down,” he says. Paul also gives a warm nod to his team, saying “Without their passion toward people and the business we could never have survived.”
At 50 years strong, it looks like they’ve survived and thrived very well to us!