By Starrla Cray
NEW GERMANY, MN The lakes are frozen solid, but for Minnesota Inboard Water Sports in New Germany, it’s boating season.
“My busiest months are April, May, and January,” service manager Vince Shimanski said.
Shimanski and his crew are skilled at bringing inboard boats “back from the dead,” making them look and run like new.
“We have a full-line body shop, and a full detailing service,” Shimanski said. “We can do just about anything, other than build a boat from scratch.”
The company started as a Malibu dealer in Excelsior in January 1992. Owners Joe and Pam Mueller added a second dealership in the Brainerd Lakes area (Baxter) in 2006, which works closely with the service department in New Germany.
“We’re the only Malibu dealer in Minnesota,” Shimanski said. “We have a nice niche market.”
The 35,000-square-foot shop and storage facility in New Germany is home to an assortment of boats some straight from the factory, others in storage for their owners.
“All our boats arrive in the winter,” Shimanski said, explaining that boats are transported via semi truck, and positioned with overhead cranes.
About 225 customer boats are stored in New Germany each winter. The boats are serviced and winterized, so they’ll be ready for the lake again in the spring.
“I have a great crew; they all work very hard,” Shimanski said. “We’re a small, tight-knit group.”
Joe Mueller’s wife, Pam, works in accounting, and their daughter, Sara Grams, serves as office manager. Sara’s husband, John, is the lead mechanic.
The Muellers’ sons, Matt and Rob, both work in the sales department.
Other employees include Tony Khambata of Mound, Randy Lange of Hutchinson, Brian Lehtola of Howard Lake, and Ryan Dressler and Aaron Lehrke, both of Lester Prairie.
Lately, the team has been busy preparing for the Minneapolis Boat Show, which will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center Thursday, Jan. 31 through Sunday, Feb. 3.
“We take 11 boats there,” Shimanski said. “Without a doubt, it’s our biggest sales event of the year.”
At last year’s show, one of the display boats (a Malibu Wakesetter MXZ) was wrapped to look like a military tank in honor of Homes for Wounded Warriors, a non-profit created by Minnesota Viking Jared Allen.
“[Allen] jumped out from under the cover,” Shimanski said, explaining that Allen is one of their customers.
Minnesota Inboard Water Sports only deals in Malibu boats and its sister line, Axis.
“Malibu boats are user-friendly, and they’re all hand-built. They’re manufactured in Loudon, TN,” Shimanski said.
The boats vary in price, and some are worth more than $100,000. Upgrades can be made to the boats as well, such as replacing the standard 350 hp engine with a 555 hp engine, or adding cameras, lights, and speakers.
“Sixty-five percent of our business is from the Lake Minnetonka area,” Shimanski said.
About three-quarters of the company’s sales occur in October through February.
“We also get a little spike in May,” Shimanski said. “Without a doubt, August is my slowest month of the year.”
Minnesota Inboard Water Sports in New Germany is located at 260 State Ave. Winter hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To learn more, call (952) 353-1500.