Henry and Lynette Faust, owners of Beltzville Manor Marine, are celebrating 45 years in business and looking forward to smooth sailing ahead as they anticipate the boat dealership’s future.
“There were times we might not have survived had it not been for our good clientele, people whose fathers, and probably even grandfathers at this point, brought their boats to us,” said Lynette Faust said, referring to the highs and lows the business occasionally endured throughout the years.
Beltzville Manor Marine, a boat sales and service dealership, has the essence of a traditional mom-and-pop shop set against the backdrop of rural Carbon County. Its dedicated patrons frequent the store to make their purchases, get their boats serviced and hang around to chat with the Fausts.
The privately held business is heading toward the half-century mark, helped by referrals and its convenient location by Beltzville State Park, home to Beltzville Lake, a popular tourist destination five miles east of Lehighton.
“We officially opened during the dedication of Beltzville Lake, Memorial Day in 1972,” Henry Faust said. “Back then, we were a Chrysler dealership for boating and fishing equipment. Now, we are a Mercury dealership.”
He said he believes it was in 1983 that Chrysler was sold to Mercury, and his business began selling boats and marine products through Mercury’s marine division. Today, Beltzville Manor has boats, motors and accessories under the Avalon, Alumacraft and Mercury brands.
RECRUITED BY CHRYSLER
The business is on Pohopoco Drive, next to the Faust’s residence.
More than four decades ago, the Fausts were a young family with “regular jobs,” who were approached by Chrysler to open a store for the company’s marine division on their property, Lynette Faust said.
“Beltzville Lake was about to open,” and the couple happened to be in the right place at the right time, she said.
“Originally, our home was where the lake was [owned by other people]. They moved it, along with a lot of other houses. … They did not demolish the houses. They were just moved,” and the land was turned into a lake.
The Fausts, who were residents of Tamaqua, bought their house on land on Pohopoco Drive not long after it was relocated in order to create the lake. Their home’s close proximity to the lake made them ideal candidates to start a location to support Chrysler’s marine division.
“There was a barn on the property, and we turned that into the main building for the business,” Henry said.
So, the Fausts, with two daughters to raise, took out a loan from their bank and had to have Lynette’s father co-sign for them to get it.
“We started out with nothing except that big bank loan,” Lynette Faust said. “It took years to build our clientele, but word-of-mouth helped. We try to be nice and fair people.”
ROADWORK HURT BUSINESS
The Fausts say that the business has had its struggles on occasion, citing recent construction work on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 209 bridge as a hindrance to business.
Because of road construction, Pohopoco Drive was closed for nearly three years, reopening in July 2016. Beltzville Manor Marine remained open during the lengthy construction, but customers had to take a detour to get to the business since it was no longer accessible from Route 209 and the Turnpike.
Customers could not easily get to the business or the lake.
“The road would be closed, and then they would have to take the back way to get to us,” Lynette Faust said. “We had some misfortune. …Money and sales were lost, and we cannot get that back,” she said. “Also, [the state] came in and had to drain [Beltzville] lake twice.”
$1M ANNUAL REVENUE
The Fausts have several buildings on their five-acre site, including the main shop, a showroom and boat display area, a section for notary work, space to perform maintenance and servicing of boats and several storage buildings and carports for boat storage. They have four full-time employees and a handful of seasonal workers.
The husband-wife team estimates that the business brings in at least $1 million annually in revenue, as its website allows it to market to those outside the area.
“We have expanded over the years. We now have around 200 boats that we store for our customers,” Henry Faust said, adding that the dealership annually services more than 200 boats and sells a “good share” of boats.
Pontoon boats are one of their best sellers because of their multi-use purpose and their variety in size and design, he said.
Beltzville Manor sells boats, motors, trailers, boating and fishing accessories, stock parts, live bait and other fishing supplies. It also provides licensing services and has two employees who do notary services.
The Fausts attribute their success to customer loyalty and the popularity of Beltzville Lake. Customers from all over, especially Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, come to visit the lake. Their association with other lakes and places such as Lake Harmony, Lake Hauto and Bear Creek also has helped to keep business steady and strong.
“We will probably continue to expand as long as the economy remains good and Beltzville Lake exists,” Lynette Faust said.