Paul and Martha Hoffmaster began selling boats out of their Sinclair gas station in Silver Spring, MD. 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—to sell Owens, Correct Craft and Evinrude Outboards.
The marina had plenty of slips but not a lot of depth and no travelift road. For a short time, Paul lived aboard a boat at the marina while Martha packed up their house in Silver Spring and moved them to Devil’s Reach Road in Woodbridge, VA. 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 bookkeeper—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.
Previously owned by the Brunswick Corporation, Owens Yacht became Concorde in the 70's. For the marina, the 70's were defined by two events—both of which happened in 1972—Hurricane Agnes and Brunswick’s divestiture of Concorde Yachts.
Agnes wiped out half the marina (which was then 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.
Hoffmaster’s became a huge force in the local market place during the 1980's. Chris Craft recognized Hoffmaster's as a Top 10 dealer and the marina delivered 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 decorating contests. The annual Fall Party became a huge deal with sit down dinner, live music, and a raw bar. It was 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 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 (now with 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 the marina needed 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 five builders of stern drive boats was a sea change for the company. Traditionally, Hoffmaster’s was an inboard drive focused company but increasingly stern drives were the lion’s share of the business and so by the turn of the century, Hoffmaster’s began to position itself as a stern-drive centric company.
The 21st Century
Hoffmaster’s continues to redefine itself. The store and showroom have been remodeled and the old pier system replaced or refurbished. Hoffmaster’s ended its 25 year relationship with Chris Craft and brought in Cobalt and Bennington Pontoons. The marina 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 earning awards in the 1980’s as Top Ten Dealer for Chris Craft, in the 1990’s as Top 20 dealer for Chris Craft, and winner of several Outstanding Service awards. 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 has been recognized by Boating Industry Magazine as one of the Top 100 dealers in North America six 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.
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