Monday, November 29, 2010

A little about Hamlin's Marine & family business

I think that we take for granted that Hamlin’s Marine has a great relationship with our customers .  It just occurred to me that we now store over 500 boats, service nearly 1500 boats, and sell nearly 300 boats each season.  To top it off, our new location in Hampden turns five years old this April! 

So, you know how it feels when you haven’t spoken with your folks in awhile, you totally spaced on Christmas cards, or you forgot your kid’s birthday?  Well that’s how I feel right now.  You know what... you probably don’t even have a clue who I am!  My name is Dan Higgins, the Hamlin’s Son-in-Law.

While I am at it, I might as well provide you a full disclosure of Hamlin’s Marine. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Fairfield, ME), Dave and Chris Hamlin opened Hamlin’s Sporting and Marine World, Inc.  Actually, it was the year 1984, and back then, Dave and Chris sold just about anything to keep the lights on and the furnace going.  The Hamlin’s stocked snowblowers, rifles, bait, fishing tackle, snowmobiles, guessed! 

Pretty soon boats and snowmobiles became the focus of the business, and the Hamlins picked up shop and moved to 290 West River Road in Waterville.  Then Dave Hamlin got on his John Deere tractor and built a facility to be proud of. 
Today, Hamlin’s Marine has two locations and twenty-five employees.  Among the employees are five family members including Dave, Chris, my wife Katie, and my sister-in-law, Jessica.  

Everyone at Hamlin’s Marine hopes that a trip to our facility is something you look forward to, and not just another stop on your errand list.   The world of retail services has made a dramatic change in the last few decades.  In my experience, it’s like pulling teeth to get answers to my questions at the big box stores, and what is with those self-checkout barcode machines.  They might as well just let us walk out the door with our groceries, and we’ll just tell them what we got at the end of the month.

So, please introduce yourself the next time you stop into Hamlin’s.  If you don’t like something, let us know and we’ll change it.  And for heaven’s sake, let us know if you do like something, because guess what...we care.  Oh, and one other thing...if I ever ask you if you want to purchase a $50 extended warranty on a $200 pair of waterskis, I give you permission to slap me

Friday, November 26, 2010

Step up to a Big Boat!

It was November 27th, 1992.  In an act of faith, my dad tossed me the keys to his Chrysler Lebaron Convertible.  I pulled out of our driveway with a sense of guilty pleasure, knowing I was  licensed by the state of Maine to drive a car.  The temperature was in the thirties, but I dropped the top and cranked the heat.  There I was at the controls of the hottest car that ever was...or so I thought.  I spent most of the day driving around with no place to go,  showing off to my friends, and seeing how different the world felt as the “King of the Road”.  I find it interesting how something as mundane as driving was once sinfully exciting. 

My first experience with Rinker boats made me feel sixteen again.  My wife, Katie, and I boarded a 32’ Rinker Express Cruiser with twin 5.0L V8 sterndrives.  As I advanced the throttles, I felt a burst of adrenaline.  Then as I looked around me, I saw an unfamiliar exciting new realm of endless possibilities.  Maybe you’ve thought about buying a vacation home, a pool, luxury furniture, a flat panel T.V., or even a stainless steel blender.   You may want to consolidate your wish list and check out the Rinker line of Express Cruisers that Hamlin’s offers for sale.  

To give you an idea of what to expect from Rinker, I'll tell you a little about what you'll find on a 32' Rinker that spends the summers at Hamlin's Marina.  In the cockpit, you'll find a huge helm with easy to read gauges and a large Raymarine information center with radar, chart plotter, and GPS.  The cockpit features wraparound seating galore, a refrigerator, and even a flip-up blender!  But step below deck, and you'll struggle not to gasp.  You may even forget you are on a boat!  The cabin features teak floors, corian countertops, stainless fixtures, and supple furnishings.  There is a stove, lounge area, flat-panel TV, and a large bathroom with shower.  Simple climate controls adjust heat and air conditioning.

I know what you must be thinking...

1.  Hmmm...must be really expensive.


2.  Seems like a lot of boat to handle.

Well, Rinker Express Cruisers are a bit more expensive than a typical 18' runabout or the average pontoon boat, but they aren't nearly as much as most vacation homes (you don't have to pay property tax either!).

And yes, except for the 26' model, Rinker Express Cruisers are too wide to trailer.  But who wants to haul a boat around when it can be at home at one of our slips at the marina!  Docking and maneuvering takes a little bit of practice, but I can guarantee it is no more difficult than trying to parallel park your dad's car for the first time!

check out the boats at:

Monday, November 22, 2010

PenBay Explorers Cruising Club

I’ve worked at Hamlin’s for nearly seven years now.  Before that, my professional life was a mosaic of cubicles, cold calls, sales quotas, and traffic jams.  I wore a suit, and I hounded people until they bought something from me.  My customers were nice enough, but I don’t think they really liked me.  That’s probably because I was selling phone service. 

Now I sell boats...but I don’t just sell boats.  I get to meet some really cool and colorful people from all walks of life.  I’ve made quite a few friends, and I don’t even care if they even have a phone.
I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon when it comes to selling boats.  It goes something like this:

1. Customer buys boat. 
2. Customer takes boat to his favorite spot. 
3. Customer’s friends and family pat the boat owner on the back and thank him/her for the good times.

Look...I’m all about sharing, but there’s got to be more to boating than playing party host.  Boat owners are the facilitator of all the fun, and they tend to be masters of their domain.  Boat-owners are calm, cool, and collected, and most of the time they are responsible and well-prepared.

So, I thought it was about time to get the boat owners together for some real fun and adventure.  I realized that  our marina is perfectly suited to be a gathering spot for these extraordinary people. 

I was right!  Two years ago, in the middle of January, we had a meeting for interested boat owners...I thought maybe we’d see a couple of folks trudge through the snow to pay us a visit.  But, no...about a dozen boaters showed up in the middle of winter! 

So we decided to form a club called the PenBay Explorers for boat owners interested in taking day trips together in Penobscot Bay. 

The club’s goal is to explore all the amazing harbors, islands, and towns in and around the Bay.  PenBay Explorers is suited for power boat owners from 20-30 ft.  

We'll be getting everyone together again at some cozy pub over the winter to make plans for next season.  We are alway looking for new boating companions to join us.  Please check our website for updates on the group.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leather Boating Wear?

Boaters are a rowdy bunch. I know because I get to talk to boaters
all year round. Boaters tell outlandish stories about parties,
gigantic fish, and crazy vacations. One of my customers came
by early in February to pick up gear because he was hauling his
new Polarkraft down to Key West just to go fishing. Most people
might not find that practical, but I think it is pretty cool. A lot
of boaters come into our stores just to hang out, tell jokes, and
harass the staff. In fact, I don.t know if I have ever met a boater
that didn.t like to have a good time.

Growing up, I went to grammar school at St. Joseph.s Catholic
School in Connecticut. I think my parents sent me to this particular
school because they thought it might teach me some discipline.
I was a very loud child known to race go-carts down
busy streets, throw spitballs, and rip the crotch out of my pants
sliding across the grass; I believe that the misadventures of my
youth helped form me into the boater I am today. However, the
nuns at my school evidently didn.t care about my boating future.
In fact they wanted me to be quiet and modest, but most of all
they wanted me to stop ripping my pants. After many lectures
and a few detentions, I realized the nuns weren.t going to let me
have my way. There were a lot of kids like me at that school,
and I bet a lot of them grew up to be boaters. We all liked to
have a great time, but it just seemed as though the nuns didn.t
want us to have fun. Many of us came to believe that fun was
actually bad.

Maybe some boaters feel guilty about how much fun they have.
It might be left over from some non-boating disciplinarian they
knew as a child. Maybe certain people actually believe that fun
is bad.

Well, if fun is bad, then all of us that are avid boaters could be
considered rebellious. And who was the world.s most beloved
rebel? James Dean of course! Do you think James Dean was a
boater? I bet he was! Only I don.t think leather really works on
the water. Certainly wouldn.t have helped his tan any, and it
would be restrictive if he was wakeboarding. Although leather is
probably alright for fishing...I imagine it would be tough to hook

I think this line of thought might be considered a tangent. Anyway,
I think we can conclude that fun might be bad, but boaters
don.t care because they are rebels. I think we have determined
that it is questionable as to whether leather is appropriate boating