From Humble Beginnings...
What year was it? Alaska and Hawaii become states, Barbie makes her debut, Vince Lombardi is hired as the Green Bay Packers coach, and the business now known as SkipperBud's was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Started in 1959 by Harold "Bud" Pretasky; over 60 years later SkipperBud's is still serving boaters. SkipperBud's is headquartered in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, and has become one of the marine industry's largest sales, brokerage, service, and marina groups.
In the 1980s, SkipperBud's constructed its first waterfront marina, drystack facility, and restaurant on the KK River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. New locations in Madison, Pewaukee, Oshkosh, and Winthrop Harbor, Illinois soon followed. SkipperBud's signed a long term lease with the State of Illinois and invested into the North Point Marina property in the late 80s. The Madison and Oshkosh locations each featured boat sales offices and a marina as well as service for boaters. The Pewaukee dealership has been an I-94 landmark since opening in 1987. Today, the Pewaukee dealership has 2 service buildings, outdoor storage, drystack and a 25,000 square foot sales showroom for new and used boats.
Growth in a New Decade
SkipperBud's continued to see substantial growth in the 1990s. The next generation in the Pretasky family, Mike Pretasky, Jr., began learning management roles within the company. SkipperBud's growth in the Northern Illinois market allowed for the purchase of the sales and service dealership, located at the corner of Routes 12 & 120 in Volo. This location has served Fox Waterway Chain boaters since the mid 90s. Further north in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, SkipperBud's built The Harbor Club Marina with new, modern floating docks and private showers. Soon after the construction and opening of Harbor Club Marina, Pretasky had the opportunity to purchase the Quarterdeck Marina which is located just a mile north of Harbor Club Marina. Today, Quarterdeck Marina is a beautiful destination for boaters who flock to Door County for summer R&R. Floating docks, picnic area, swimming pool, boat sales, service, storage and full service fuel are just a few of the amenities offered.
The new millennium welcomed opportunities for expansion. New storefronts and marinas with the SkipperBud's branding, brought new boat lines and additional service for boaters in Harrison Township, Bay City, Fenton, and Grand Haven, Michigan. Next on the map, SkipperBud's acquired the Marine Del Isle facility in Marblehead, Ohio in 2003. The property today consists of a new 30,000 square foot showroom for boat sales and a service department, for any type of maintenance and repair. Storage facilities and mobile service help boaters protect and maintain their investment year-round.
The last decade brought substantial growth to SkipperBud's locations. Mike Pretasky, Jr. took the helm at SkipperBud's as President in 2007. He brings a fresh perspective to re-invest in core facilities with expansion/remodeling. This business model while keeping sales and service a priority, also brought boaters a better place to enjoy the lifestyle of boating.
Since 2013, SkipperBud's has added a location in Walworth County, Wisconsin. The dealership is located close to the Abbey Marina and services boaters in Walworth, Fontana, and Lake Geneva areas. In Illinois, SkipperBud's acquired the historic Sequoit Harbor on Route 173 in Antioch. The dealership/marina represents SkipperBud's popular portfolio of boat brands and boasts 211 slips on the Northern portion of Lake Marie. Most recently, SkipperBud's expanded in the Detroit market on Cass Lake. This gem offers 120 slips and will feature a full service dealership including new boat brands along with used boats and brokerage services. There has also been vast expansion in the Wisconsin Lake Country area, with a new service center and a beautiful storage campus in Nashotah.
Today and Into the Future
From humble roots in Wisconsin, SkipperBud’s core specialty is still to serve boaters. In addition to the customer experience, Mike Pretasky, Jr. has realized that the growth, success, and future of the company is entirely dependent upon the TEAM. It is that team that has brought the organization to where it is today with over 325 employees. With locations across the Midwest, SkipperBud's has 8 marinas with 1,200 slips, 6 dry stack buildings that house 1,500 boats and this winter will store more than 5,000 boats. SkipperBud's partnership with Silver Seas Yachts has supplemented the company portfolio with locations in California, and Washington, making over twenty locations in all!
Since its beginning, SkipperBud's has demonstrated a commitment to customers, delivering the dream of the boating lifestyle. Through long-term relationships with premium brands, professional and experienced staff, multiple service facilities and a comprehensive list of offerings, SkipperBud's is working to make boating fun and hassle-free for EVERYONE. Our boat rental locations – located in different states throughout the Midwest allows the dream of making memories on the water available to all.
Offering premium brands, such as Sea Ray, Bayliner, Starcraft, Sylvan, Harris, Four Winns, Tige, Tiara Yachts, MasterCraft, Scarab, Aviara, Scout and Cruisers Yachts. SkipperBud's sells new and used recreational boats and yachts, along with parts & accessories, service, boat storage, dockage, transport, boat rentals, delivery captains, educational classes, boating events, and more!