By David Gee
Short’s Sales & Service opened four years after World War II in 1949. Located in a one-stall garage in Oak Orchard, Delaware, it quickly established itself as the “go-to store” for everything related to food. Marine.
Today, four generations and over 70 years later, Short’s Marine, Inc. continues to operate with the same mantra of being the place of choice for area boaters. Although with five different campuses, including a large showroom / sales facility, an administrative building next door, a parts and service center across the street, a custom canvas, and an installation of demonstration in the water on the Indian River, as well as several dry storage locations, they have long moved beyond the garage to a stall to become the largest boat dealership on the DelMarVa Peninsula.
Don Short is proud of the reputation they have earned over the years, including being named Nautical industry Top 100 dealers in the program’s very first year, 17 years ago, and every year since. Short’s Marine was also represented at the very first Top 100 black tie gala, as well as the most recent in Atlanta.
“It’s an accomplishment we’re very proud of, because it takes everyone in our business every year to make it happen,” Don said in his Top 100 Applicants.
Short’s Marine is open 363 days a year and typically keeps 300 boats and personal watercraft for sale and display, representing over a dozen brands. Of course, we all know inventory levels are anything but typical these days, so let’s just call that number slightly lower for now.
Short said they’ve done a lot to change and improve their business since the start of the pandemic, and have taken a hard look at their product lines, profitability, processes and people. They also tackled expected facility improvements, such as new signage, new pavement, improved parking and other updates to make Short’s Marine feel new again.
“Our goals remain the same,” continued Short. “Sell more boats and continue to provide all the services and products that any of our customers would need. We are very fortunate that our management team has over 180 years of combined experience. This allows us to make quick and informed decisions, and our consistent management style helps us understand market trends, recognize growth opportunities, and allow us to make tough decisions much more easily. “
Just for fun, I checked out Don Short’s LinkedIn profile just before I started writing this article. The “Experience” section of his profile was quite brief. President – Short’s Marine Inc., 1973 – Present – 48 years old.
“Over 70 years in the shipping industry is a long time,” he said in what one might call a gross understatement. “As a family owned and operated business, soon to be part of our 5th generation, we are very different from all the other maritime businesses around us. Short’s Marine was founded on integrity and continues to operate with the same integrity. We conduct our business in the “old school” which is difficult to reproduce. We always treat others the way we want to be treated.
Short says that while they have had many employees with them for over 30 years, they are always embracing new tools and technologies and are constantly looking for ways to improve – and to be able to do more. And that includes giving back to their local community.
I’ll end this editor’s choice with the last paragraph from Don Short’s Top 100 app:
“At Short’s Marine, we all focus on who we are and why customers are looking for us. This is how our company continues to grow and strengthen each year. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to apply for the Top 100. We look forward to continuing our election run! ”