It started with one boat, an 18-foot Chris-Craft that Ken Beckley bought from his uncle in Tarrytown in 1967. Eighteen years old and still in high school, Beckley rented the boat out while teaching water skiing for hotel patrons at Lake George.
Over the following four decades, Beckley’s rental fleet grew to 45 vessels. Beckley’s Boats, as the business came to be known, also includes a Diamond Point Marina and a boat dealership on Central Avenue in Colonie.
Now 58 years old and with no children to hand the business over to, Beckley is shrinking his business’ footprint. A retirement sale started Tuesday at the block-long Colonie dealership, which opened in 1999 and had a showroom added to it in 2004.
“We’re not going out of business. We’re just scaling back. We’re still going to have launch services and pump gas at Lake George,” said Beckley, a Westchester County native and former Voorheesville earth sciences teacher who runs the business with his wife, Sara.
Beckley is in negotiations to sell his Colonie operation, which includes a service center. He would not identify the prospective buyers.
At Diamond Point, he plans to stop renting boats. The year-round Colonie shop employs eight while the seasonal Diamond Point marina employs 20. Beckley’s Boats specializes in selling fishing vessels including Lunds, Manitou Pontoons and Rangers.
Beckley is leaving the Colonie dealership at a time when the nation’s housing slump and high gasoline prices are hurting boat sales.
In April, Boating Industry magazine called 2007 an “awful year for the boat market.” Yet Beckley said sales have been strong in Colonie, where he sold over 100 boats last year.
Reach Gazette reporter James Schlett at 395-3040 or [email protected]