We take Triton Networking to Boat Owner’s Warehouse — BOW — on the first Wednesday in February. The long-established, family-run business is a staple in South Florida’s marine industry. Come meet the family, and learn a little more about BOW and its family of businesses and services for yacht captains and crew.
Until then, learn more about BOW from owner Steve Baum.
Tell us about BOW.
BOW is a boater’s one-stop shop for anything to fix, accessorize, clean, maintain or customize their boat. We have 20,000 brand name items in stock for vessels of all sizes. If we don’t have it in our inventory, we have special order departments in every store that are staffed full time with knowledgeable associates, and they stand ready to assist every boater with locating even the hardest-to-find items, no matter how large or small.
You have several locations. Tell us about those.
BOW has grown over the years, but we still try to maintain that feel of being a family business. With 110 employees and five South Florida locations — four BOW stores in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Riviera Beach and Stuart, as well as a BOW WorldWide Yacht Supply, our megayacht chandlery located in our 50,000-square-foot warehouse next to the Fort Lauderdale airport — we have the South Florida marine market covered pretty well.
Because the four BOW stores are open seven days a week, 361 days a year, we try be where boaters need us, when they need us, and with the brand name parts they are looking for.
What would captains or engineers be surprised to learn you carry you in your stores?
A better way to phrase that would be ‘what would captains and engineers not find in a BOW store?’ They won’t find any clothing or shoes. We tried that for a while, on a small scale, several few years ago, but it took up too much space and kept us from stocking the stores with the items our customers were looking for. Our stores are all in the 9,000- to 11,000-square-foot range and they’re packed pretty tight with inventory.
Some of what we stock that captains and engineers may not find in a traditional marine store is bigger boat items such as 100 amp shore cords, smart Ys and replacement ends, and a large selection of 24-volt DC pumps and blowers. We even have 32-volt for older boats that are still around. We even started carrying a few of the more popular 220-volt ice makers for boats built for the European market that are here in the U.S.
And if we don’t have it in stock, our special order department can source anything a captain or engineer needs.
Your Fort Lauderdale location on State Road 84 got a facelift recently. Tell us about that.
We spent many years acquiring the adjacent property in preparation for expanding. We then spent three years getting the necessary building permits from the city. Once all of that was in place, we expanded the store 25 percent to a total of 9,000 square feet, built a completely new parking lot with drainage and did it all while staying open. We only closed for one Sunday to demolish our old mezzanine inside the older section of the building.
Once the expansion was done, we were able to expand our core departments with a deeper and wider inventory selection. We add new product all the time, both by customer request and as new innovations hit the market. We also were able to increase the size of our special order department significantly.
Another really nice feature is we were able to build a break room for the associates, so they have a place to go have their lunch or breaks and check e-mails.
Any plans for further expansion or growth?
We just opened the Stuart store in April so our current plan is to spend time fine tuning that location.
We are also continually trying to improve what we already do to give the best customer experience that we possibly can. We try to focus on selection, service, training our associates and, of course, keeping our prices competitive.
As far as plans for further growth and expansion go, the answer is probably, but I can’t say where or when at this time. It takes us a long time to find the right location; Stuart took years.
BOW was started by some of the oldest names in South Florida’s marine industry. Tell us about the founders and your related businesses.
We are very fortunate to be the second generation of this business and to have learned it from the best. This business was founded in 1979 by Elmer Strauss, George Cable and Joe LaFauci. They are also the founders of Cable Marine, which they established in 1978. Cable Marine is getting ready in a couple of months to celebrate its 40th anniversary as one of South Florida’s premier shipyards.
My partners in BOW are Elmer’s daughter, Terri Strauss, and Joe’s son, Paul LaFauci. A few years ago we also made several of our key people shareholders in BOW. We wanted to reward their years of hard work and dedication. Elmer, George and Joe started this whole thing with a dream and a desire, and over the past 40 years, the businesses have grown and grown. If you combined them, they would be one of the largest marine businesses in South Florida.
All captains, crew and industry professionals are welcome to join us on Feb. 7 from 6-8 p.m. at BOW, 311 S.W. State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale (33315). No RSVP needed; just bring a smile and the desire to meet some new people.