Melvin Village Marina, Yesterday and Today
From Old White House With Attached Barn to New Ventures
By Rosalie Triolo
Photos courtesy of Kevin Dubia
Beginnings: Bob Moulton Sr. and his wife, Priscilla, in 1955 purchased the old white house with attached barn next to the Willing Workers Hall on Rt. 109 in Melvin Village. Bob drove a school bus and operated a laundromat located in the building behind the Willing Workers Hall. At that time, a man named Mr. Brigden, needing a place for the summer to park his car and launch his boat, and a place in winter to store his boat, made a deal with Bob Moulton. In the 1960s a channel was dredged into Melvin Bay and the first half of the docks were built. Selling Mercury outboard motors and renting dock spaces, Moulton started the beginnings of a boat business.
In 1971, Bob Moulton sold the business to Ivan and Coleen Phelps, who moved the service department from the barn to the former laundromat. With room for one 17-foot boat, Ivan restored old wooden boats, and in 1976 expanded the number of docks.
Thinking of making a change and wanting to go into his own business, Tom Young, an engineer with Electric Boat Co. in Groton, Connecticut and his wife, Mary, on a warm weekend in mid-March of 1981, visited Lake Winnipesaukee. An unusually warm winter and early “Ice Out,” meant that boats were tied to docks, and the sun was shining. Tom thought to himself, “This isn’t so bad. Boats are already in the water.”
And so, on June 15, 1981 Tom and Mary Young and their family moved from Rhode Island to the old white house with attached barn and became the owners of Melvin Village Marina. At the time, there were two employees: Jerry Heald, service manager and mechanic who taught Tom the service and maintenance end of the business, and Dorothy Christenson, office manager, who showed Tom how to run an office. Dorothy said, “He was a fast learner.”
The following year in mid-March when Tom was looking forward to putting boats in the water, the ice was still thick on the lake and that year “Ice Out” was in late April.
Tom calls it his “lucky break” when a representative from the Four Winns boat line recommended Melvin Village Marina to Bill Winn Sr. as a Four Winns dealership on Lake Winnipesaukee.
In 1975, Bill Winn, Sr., and his three sons, Bill, Jr, Charlie and John, acquired the SAF-T-MATE Boat Co., relocating it from Indiana to Cadillac, Michigan, known as Four Winns. A tragic fire occurred in ’78, leaving the factory a rubble of smoking ruins. Molds, parts, and all records were destroyed. Nothing was left, except the tooling plant, which was located elsewhere. Optimistic, Bill Winn Sr. went to the City of Cadillac for help. Four Winns had to borrow back boats, already delivered to dealers, to tool new molds. With support from family, friends and the City of Cadillac, Michigan, the Winn family was able to resume manufacturing a few short months after the fire. In general, the ’80s were profitable and successful for the Winn family. The number of employees grew from 100 to over 1,000 in the span of a decade.
In the fall of 1982 Melvin Village Marina became a Four Winns dealer. The boat line grew and so did the Marina. Four Winns boats, primarily powered by Volvo Penta stern-drive engines, offer a variety of popular models (runabouts, bow riders and cruisers), and are all well-built, attractively designed and reasonably priced. Throughout the years Four Winns has had several owners, most recently, Beneteau, a family owned French company.
Reflecting on the past, Tom remarked, “Luck with Four Winns and the success of the marina led to other good opportunities when we became a dealer for Lund, Harris and Robalo.”
Lund, an aluminum fishing boat, manufactured in New York Mills, Minnesota was first built in 1948 by G. Howard Lund. Using the industry’s most durable Aluminum 5052H 34, craftsmanship with an extreme attention to detail, superior design, clever engineering and creating a first-rate fishing boat are attributed to Lund’s success. Owned by the Brunswick Corporation, Lund boats come packaged with Mercury engines or if preferred, a Honda engine.
In the 1940’s, two brothers - Ernie and Pete Harris - were looking to expand business. They were inspired by the early pontoon boats built on 55-gallon barrels and drop tanks from airplanes. Founded in 1957, Harris FloteBote Marine’s original FloteBote pontoons were 20-feet in length with steel tubes. Due to their size, most dealers found they would occupy extra space in their already tight showrooms. Building a word-of-mouth reputation by displaying FloteBote in Eastern Indiana and on Michigan lakes, the Harris brothers revitalized their early pontoon boat by installing upholstered pontoon seats and furniture. Depending upon the size, from a simple 16 feet to an impressive 27 feet, Harris boats come outfitted with either a Mercury or Honda 4-stroke engine. The newly added recreational model has an upper deck with slide.
Popular on Lake Winnipesaukee and prominent on most lakes in the Lakes Region, these luxury boats, ‘floating living rooms’ appeal to all age groups and boats with larger engines. They are perfect for water skiing or tubing. Harris FloteBote has received the J. D. Power and Associates award for “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Pontoon Boats.” Harris FloteBote is a division of the Brunswick Boat Group manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Robalo, a center console fiberglass fishing boat partnered with a Yamaha engine manufactured in Nashville, Georgia was founded in 1969. Robalo’s first boat, a 19-foot center console salt-water fishing boat, was advertised as having an “unsinkable” hull. Currently there are 15 different models from 18 to 30 feet to be used in both fresh-water lakes or salt water. In 2001, Marine Products purchased Robalo.
Tom considers himself “lucky.” He said, “Of his five children, the last born, Matthew, showed enough interest to take over the business. While in high school, Matt spent summers working as a dock-hand at the marina. Summer vacations from college found Matt in the service department learning the mechanical end and in the office learning the sales end of the business. After graduation from Elmira College, Matt came on board full-time, dividing his time between the service department, the office and sales.”
Due to the Recession of 2007, boat sales declined. Both Tom and Matt, with employee input, looked into the possibilities of a Rental Boat Program starting with three boats. Ten years later, the number of rental boats grew to 22 in service. New boats, primarily Four Winns and Harris, are rented for two summers and then sold. Boats are clean and safe and adequately powered for either cruising or water sports. By using Melvin Village’s online rental program (melvinvillagemarina.com) customers are able to choose, check availability and reserve a boat.
Next Generation: By 2008, in semi-retirement, Tom began stepping away as full-time owner/operator of the marina, handing over more of the day-to-day operation to his son, Matt. Before fully retiring, Tom and Matt purchased the house and land across Route 109 from the old white house and barn. On April 4, 2008 the new building completed, employees moved office equipment and boats from one side of the street to the other. The new showroom on the main floor holds, depending upon size, eight to 10 boats, and additional space on the lower level holds 10 to 15 boats.
By 2014, Matt became full-time owner/operator of the marina, taking full responsibility and moving ahead with bold new ideas and changes. With expansion in mind and business opportunities presenting themselves, Matt purchased property on Route 16 in Ossipee, catering to the Route 16 corridor traffic. Melvin Village Marina, Ossipee provides sales and service to lakes in that area.
Erin Donnelly worked summers through high school and college as a dock hand. After college graduation, Erin became a full-time employee in sales at Melvin Village Marina. Erin is manager of Melvin Village Marina, Ossipee. Two years ago, the first storage building was added to hold pontoon boats. A service shop, added the winter of 2017, is in use. Starting as a marine technician at the Melvin Village Facility, Justin Glidden is service manager of the Ossipee facility with assistant technician, Michael Stacey.
New Beginnings: The old white house with attached barn had been standing empty for years. Three years ago, Rich and Janya Gladu, owners and operators of Canvas Plus, decided it was time for them to find a new path. That path led them to Melvin Village Marina (MVM) and the beginning of Melvin Village Marina Canvas Company. Located in the old white house with attached barn, Janya Gladu, an expert in fixing, designing and stitching boat canvas and upholstery, uses her talents in running MVM Canvas Shop. Janya and her assistant, Terry Moody, are busy year round and have turned the old white house into a large operation of humming machinery, cutting tables, rolled up paper patterns, materials, and canvases waiting to be sewn. The attached barn is used to hold boats waiting to be fitted with new or restitched canvases.
After a good deal of thought and hours of discussion, an agreement was reached between Matt Young and former owners, Bob and Melanie Schofield, of Ambrose Cove Marina, located on Route 109 in Moultonborough. In late fall 0f 2017, Matthew and Virginia Young became the new owners. Ambrose Cove Marina will continue to offer boat storage, dock slips, marine gas, as well as valet service. Bob Bowie, valet manager, originally worked at Melvin Village Marina as a technician. He will provide a limited service of dewinterizing in spring/summer and winterizing in fall/winter. Boats needing more extensive work will be diagnosed and serviced at Melvin Village Marina.
Dedicated Employees: Through the years, Melvin Village Marina has increased in size and in the number of employees from two to in excess of 25 during the summer season. Its prosperity and success has been, and still is, due to loyal and dedicated employees: an efficient office staff including Office Manager, Barb Dubia; Office Assistant, Alisha Biehl; and Dock Hand Supervisor, Adie Purvis. A dynamic trio of sales associates includes Kevin Dubia and Matt Galvin (Melvin Village); Erin Donnelly (Melvin Village Ossipee); and a Service Department providing a level of service unmatched in the marine industry by qualified, highly-trained marine technicians Mike Austin, Neil Bayard, Dana Carpenter, and Keith Newbegin. Mat Chamberlain handles inventory, Shane Frost reconditions boats, supervised by Service Manager, Rob Heald, (with 30 plus years of service). Kurt Lehner assists the Service Manager, and is the “go-to” person when a customer and/or another employee has a question. Paul Stacey supervises maintenance of buildings and property, assisted by part-timers Chuck Glidden and Brian (Manny) Dubia. MVM is the only service department in the country to win the Four Winns CSI Award twice, and the only Four Winns service department in New England to win the award. Melvin Village Marina is an authorized service and warranty dealer for Honda, Mercury and Yamaha, a full line dealer for Honda engines and packaged dealer for Mercury and Yamaha engines.
All starting in an old white house with attached barn.