Interview: Suntex Marinas CEO Bryan Redmond

Suntex Marinas has ramped up its acquisition strategy over recent years. In the past 24 months, the US marina firm has acquired 27 owned marinas and added 16 additional managed marinas. With an equal mix of coastal saltwater locations and inland freshwater marinas, Suntex now has 74 owned and managed marinas across 15 states in the US, including Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach Marina. The company expects to have 98 marinas under operation by the end of 2023.

Suntex CEO Bryan Redmond

Co-founder and chief executive officer at Suntex, Bryan Redmond (pictured left), says the marina industry is still very fragmented, with marinas in the US often needing vital funds and investment to reinvigorate the business. “Marinas are typically owned and operated by an individual family or a municipality,” he says.

Suntex marinas

“Most marinas were originally built in the 60s and 70s, are outdated, and need capital infusion. Many of these owners realise they don’t have the capital resources to reinvest in the marinas to bring them up to consumer expectations today, and that it is time to sell and extract the value before their income streams fully deteriorate. We understand that marina sellers want to sell to someone they can trust to protect their legacy. They have spent years building their marinas.

“With every acquisition our job is to build on that legacy, to take care of their people, their teams, their customers, and their reputation in the community. Our track record of doing what we say and letting them talk to other sellers that have sold to us is the most important factor to our success.”

In addition, Redmond says the municipalities often like the idea of partnering with Suntex, typically through a long-term lease structure of 50 to 99 years. “We commit to reinvesting in the marina to bring it to today’s standards,” he adds.

Discussing the company’s fast-paced acquisition strategy, Redmond explains: “Suntex growth is driven by same-store revenue growth, marina repositioning and improvements, introduction of new products to marinas, and by acquisition. We have a scalable and institutionalised operating platform, run by a seasoned management and operating team with extensive experience in marina operations and investments, and a successful track record of integrating and repositioning our acquisitions.”

Suntex mergers

In February 2022, Suntex Marina acquired Westrec Marinas, in a transaction rumoured to be valued at $400 million, according to the Wall St Journal. The combined position is now valued at $2.5 billion, forming the second largest marina group in the US, behind Safe Harbor.

Suntex York River Yacht Haven

Speaking of the merger, Redmond says: “We believe the real benefit of consolidation will be felt by the boating customer. If we look at the hotel industry as an example, 50 years ago the hospitality experience at hotels was inconsistent at best as local and regional providers dominated the management space. It wasn’t until large hospitality entities consolidated process, technology, and experience that true hotel brands came into existence on a wider scale.

“Consumers then could ‘count on’ a particular experience based on brand, and hotel companies worked hard at making sure their brand meant something. We intend to do the same thing with the Suntex brand. While our physical amenities may be different marina to marina, the feeling of community you experience at a Suntex Marina will always remain the same.”

The company is focusing on building the premier network of marinas across the US and currently has no plans for growth outside of the US. In terms of continuing opportunities, Redmond says: “Historically, marinas have been operated as a self-storage facility for boats. We believe the biggest opportunity for Suntex is to disrupt the industry and grow the base of boaters  and career opportunities in the marina industry.”

“We operate as a community where boat owners and enthusiasts can relax and hang out with friends and family. In addition, Suntex is the only marina company that owns boat rental and boat club businesses at scale, catering not only to boat owners but also creating different levels of water access to grow new boat owners. Combining the rental and club businesses with our slips and storage, we can fulfil what we  call the ‘circle of boating’. We make it easy for anyone to get on the water to experience boating through a boat rental, provide a boat club option to those who want to experience a boating lifestyle but aren’t ready to own a vessel, and offer boat slips and storage for those who own a boat. Through these integrated businesses, we can fully control the experience all around the circle, making it more natural to grow the boating community,” explains Redmond. Suntex has partnered with Boatsetter to bring crewed boat rentals to its portfolio.

Industry standards

In recent years, Suntex has witnessed a greater demand for additional amenities, especially those that provide connections between the marina members, including Wi-Fi, social spaces, and community events. In addition, there has been a rise in technological advances both in the marina and onboard boats. On the issue of electric boating, Redmond is watching for an uptick.

“If you look at the electrification of the auto industry, it has been driven by the manufacturers and infrastructure has followed the pace of electric car sales. The reality is that electric cars sales didn’t gain traction until there was a product that matched or exceeded the performance of the internal combustion engine. We believe the same will happen in the boating industry. When that happens, we’ll be ready with the infrastructure to support this new dynamic,” he says.

With regard to legislative support, recreation in general needs to be on the same plane as other land management priorities. “Marinas make large investments to bring recreation to local waters, giving access to and enhancing these public assets, and creating an economic impact to the local [regions]. Improvements in areas like providing for longer leases would incent greater investment, bringing more lifestyle and economic benefits to the surrounding communities.”

To help facilitate further career opportunities, Suntex has partnered with the Dedman College of Hospitality at Florida State University and the Association for Marina Industries in creating a college curriculum to establish a hospitality driven management career path in the marina industry. “This, combined with our internships and manager in-training programmes, allows students to immediately get access to all the different aspects of running a marina business,” Redmond says.

Moving forward, Redmond says the company would welcome more industry wide KPIs surrounding occupancy, slip rates, retention, etc. and increased knowledge sharing. “Because of the fractured nature  of the marina industry, there is no such thing as a ‘star report’ for marinas. Information remains highly guarded and localised, which hinders everyone’s ability to optimise their position within each market,” Redmond concludes.  

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One response to “Interview: Suntex Marinas CEO Bryan Redmond”

  1. Todd Dailey says:

    Great read.

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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