Building a company for success, one marina at a time
Written by Joy McPeters
Dallas-based Suntex Ventures has ambitious plans to more than triple its portfolio of marinas. Given Chairman & CEO Johnny Powers’ passion, energy and access to capital, this seems very possible.
Powers acquired his first marina in Texas in the mid-1990s, right out of law school. He and his partner, Ron Rhoades, initially focused mostly on commercial and residential real estate, but they saw a unique opportunity in marinas and began taking their acquisitions in that direction in 2000, originally naming the company Sun Resorts.
Powers and Rhoades have built a strong team of principals, including Bryan Redmond and Andy Chafoulias, to help them implement their strategy, and Suntex currently owns nine marinas valued at more than $150 million, with 120 employees and properties in Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Iowa and St. Maarten.
Powers believes that there has never been a better time for industry consolidation. His long-term strategy is to expand Suntex with a four-pronged approach: concentrate on acquiring marinas on U.S. Army Corp of Engineering lakes; grow the Suntex brand along the eastern seaboard from Florida to New Jersey; expand Caribbean assets; and pursue partnerships, joint ventures and mergers with other existing marina portfolios.
Powers and Rhoades believe that the first step to success is to create an excellent workplace environment for their employees. “Offering an opportunity for career growth while also creating an atmosphere of fun for our team leads to the delivery of superior customer service,” says Chris Petty, Suntex Vice President of Operations and a former General Manager at Sun Resorts.
Suntex is also focused on proactively responding to customer feedback, which is why each marina is undergoing upgrades of all bathroom facilities. “Nice bathrooms are always at the top of the customer survey,” says Powers, who adds that “our goal is to create an experience where boaters— whether they have a personal watercraft or a mega yacht—can enjoy their time at the marina.” ml