The history of Hoffmaster's Marina
Paul and Martha Hoffmaster started selling boats out of their Sinclair gas station in Silver Spring, Maryland. In 1957, on the advice of their Owens Yachts representative, Paul and Martha purchased the marina that is now Hoffmaster’s. They partnered with three of Paul’s brothers—Jack, Gene and Ralph. At that time they sold Owens, Correct Craft and Evinrude Outboards.
The place had plenty of slips but not a lot of depth and no travelift road. Paul lived on a boat at the marina for awhile while Martha packed up their house on Dillston Road in Silver Spring and moved them to their new home on Devil’s Reach Road in Woodbridge. It was tough going at first. Dredging, pile driving, grading, converting what had been the service shop into a ship’s store, and construction of the showroom (which started as a service shop) demanded all their time and resources.
In the 60’s Martha and Paul sold Owens Yacht exclusively. Paul’s belief in the reliability and simplicity of the inboard drive system led him to focus there. Martha became the book keeper so her job was to find the money and Paul’s job was to spend it. They built an outdoor display area for cruisers and became heavily involved in the marketing and sales of Owens.
Paul’s leadership qualities stood out in some hilarious ways. He was given an exclusive for the Washington Boat Show only to find out during move in that another dealer had put Owens yachts in the show. Paul responded by covering all his boats with duck storage covers until the manufacturer came to the table.
In the 70’s Owens became Concorde. From 1960 until then, the boat company had been owned by Brunswick Corporation. But the 70’s would be defined by 2 events—both of which happened in 1972—Hurricane Agnes and Brunswick’s divestiture of Concorde Yachts.
Agnes wiped out half the marina which then had to be rebuilt (with the help of SBA loans). Paul and Martha searched for a stable boat company and found one in Chris Craft. During the 70’s, Hoffmaster’s (then called Occoquan Marina) became a market leader and by 1979 Paul was awarded as one of the Top 20 dealers in sales worldwide.
In the 1980’s Hoffmaster’s became a huge force in the local market place. It became a Top 10 dealer with Chris Craft and was delivering new Chris Crafts up to 50’ in length. Paul and Martha reestablished the Blessing of the Fleet in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and had boat decoration contests. The annual Fall Party became a huge deal with sit down dinner, live music, and a raw bar. The 1980’s were a fun decade for the Hoffmasters and the marina prospered as well. By 1989 the marina had 60 covered slips and a new travelift.
In 1989 Chris Craft declared bankruptcy and at the same time there was a recession. Once again Hoffmaster’s had to redefine itself to survive and prosper. The 1990’s were a transition in this area. Paul and Martha (and now son Joe, who came on board in 1984) were loyal to Chris Craft but it became clear towards the end of the 90’s that competitors had grabbed the majority of the market share and something had to change. Joe, now effectively General Manager, signed an agreement to become a dealer for Chaparral boats in 1998.
Hoffmaster’s relationship with one of the top 5 builders of stern drive boats was a sea change for the company. Traditionally Hoffmaster’s was an inboard drive focused company although increasingly stern drives were the lion’s share of the business. By the turn of the century however, Hoffmaster’s began to position itself as a stern-drive centric company.
The first decade of the 21st century has found Hoffmaster’s once again redefining itself and turning to a new kind of glory, as opposed to trying to repeat old ones. The store and showroom have been remodeled, much of the old pier system has been replaced or refurbished, and the process continues on an ongoing basis. Hoffmaster’s ended its 25 year relationship with Chris Craft, brought in Cobalt to occupy the ultra premium brand position, and focused on a new, two-fold strategy: modern business practices internally, focus on fun externally. It adopted the slogan “Welcome to the Family” to emphasize its old fashioned and comforting attitude of bringing everyone together. The old fall party was replaced by the customer-driven “Dock Crawl” and emphasis was placed on what we feel are our core values: honesty, friendliness, togetherness.
As a result of these changes, Hoffmaster’s has once again become a nationally recognized dealership. Hoffmaster’s has always earned awards: in the 1980’s as Top Ten dealer for Chris Craft and in the 1990’s as Top 20 dealer for Chris Craft and winner of several Outstanding Service awards.
In this century Hoffmaster’s has achieved independent Marine Industry certification on a continuing basis, been recognized as a Top 30 dealer worldwide for Chaparral boats, won several Customer Satisfaction Awards for both Chaparral and Cobalt, and been recognized by Boating Industry Magazine as one of the Top 100 dealers in North America 6 years in a row.
Over the past 50 years, Hoffmaster's Marina has evolved from a small business into a large family of valued employees, suppliers and customers. At Hoffmaster’s we share our boating experiences to increase your enjoyment of this wonderful sport and lifestyle choice.