I am very humbled as I sit here and write this short blog on our 50th anniversary. Humbled by my great family. Humbled by our great employees. Humbled by our great customers. Humbled by our great vendors. Humbled by our great manufacturers…But most of all, I am humbled and ever so thankful that our family has stood the test of time and made it to the 4th generation in the marine industry! This is something a mere 3% of family businesses can say, and says a lot about the dedication the Clemons family has always had to its employees and customers alike!
The Clemons family began its journey in the marine industry with my great grandfather, Allen Clemons, who started Gem Beach on Catawba island just after World War II in the mid 1940’s. Allen dabbled in a few different things at Gem Beach, with boat sales being one! They sold a few brands including Egg Harbor and Pacemaker boats but Lyman was what they are known for most today. My great grandfather Allen sold Gem Beach in the early 1960’s, which sent my Grandfather Bob searching for greener pastures.
When Gem Beach was sold, Bob Clemons started a boat brokerage service out of Midway Marina, also on Catawba Island. A short while later, Bob decided he wanted to get into the new boat sales business as well and started searching for places to build. I have been told that property prices here in Bayview were much cheaper than Catawba, and when he found this property, it fit the bill. Our current location still had drive by traffic with the old bay bridge, which made it a great purchase! Clemons Boats officially started in 1966 here at 8009 Barrett Road, Sandusky Ohio. I have heard many stories of my grandfathers dedication to the business that involved him sleeping in his suit and tie here at the dealership! My grandfather has been touted by employees to be tough but always very fair with everyone and cemented the Clemons family name as a family and business that one could trust. I can’t imagine the amount of work, stress, and risk he took to take care of his family. Pretty amazing!
Pictured above: Bob Clemons, Jason Clemons, and the newest Clemons…Scotlyn Bay Clemons!
Clemons Boats started off selling Thompson and Thunderbird/Formula boats in the early years and we started selling Bayliners in 1972, which quickly became a leader in the space! I have heard stories from the “golden years” of the dealership when they sold so many boats at the Cleveland Boat Show, there would be lines of people waiting to sign up for their new boat! Many volume and CSI awards where given over the years from several of our boat brands.
As you can imagine, being a family business meant family members working at the dealership and the Clemons Family was no exception with all of Bob’s children working in the business at some point. Mary (Memo), Sally, Carol, Jim, John, and Dan all put time in here at the dealership over the years from cleaning boats, all the way to running the company! Clemons Boats made it through a few dips during its first 30 or so years in business including sky high gas prices in the 70’s, soaring interest rates, and the bridge re-routing traffic which took place around 1985.
Pictured above: John Clemons, Jason Clemons, and Bob Clemons surrounded by Whalers!
My father John and uncle Dan took over the reigns of the business sometime in the early 1990’s, I believe 1993. That was subsequently, about the time that I started to do some odd jobs around the dealership from cleaning boats to stacking blocks. Our main brands were Bayliner, Trophy, Mainship, and Regal in those days I believe. Luckily, my Grandfather turned over the reigns to capable hands, and Clemons Boats weathered some pretty big storms in that time as well. They got through the market crash in the 1990’s, the .com bubble, 911 attacks, and of course the housing crash of 2008. If there was ever a great time to be a conservative company, it was in 2008 when boat dealerships were being closed down on a weekly basis all over the country. Thankfully, my grandfather did a great job managing the company and especially the companies debt over the years and instilled this same priority in his sons minds. This allowed Clemons Boats to weather the storm, however painful it may have been!
This leads us to 2016, our 50th year in business! I have now been given the chance to follow in my families foot steps and keep on with the family tradition of a high level of service to our customers while delivering the best brands in boating! Within the past several years we have positioned ourselves with the best brands in boating; Boston Whaler, Cobalt, Sea Hunt, and Bennington, while also investing in a rental department and a Carefree Boat Club to ensure our customers can enjoy a variety of ways to get on the water! In 2016 we offer boat sales, service, parts, storage, dockage, rentals, and boat club! A one stop shop, if you will.
Pictured above: John Clemons, Jason Clemons, and Bob Clemons on “Verado Alley”
As you can see, Clemons Boats has been a long standing dealership in the Lake Erie boating market, and for very good reason. We offer a family business feel, with personal customer service that can’t be beat! I want to take a moment to thank my family, all of our employees over the years, and all of our great customers for all you do for us. If it wasn’t for the help of you all, Clemons Boats couldn’t have possibly made it 50 years….and we plan to make it another 50 with your continued help!
I hope you have enjoyed this short history lesson on Clemons Boats. If you have any interest in our products or services, let us know. We do have some great specials going on to celebrate our 50th anniversary! Feel free to call us at 419-684-5365 or shoot us an email at Our Website. If social media is more your speed check us out on our FACEBOOK PAGE.
See you on the water,