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Pacific Northwest Mailibu Dealers - Feedback and Experience Please


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Considering a new WS 23 LSV w/surfgate. Located in Richland, Washington. The local Malibu dealer has changed within the last year and I have no experience with them. Seattle (Seattle Boat Comapny), Portland (Active Water Sports), Madras (Madras Marine), and Nampa (Idaho Water Sports) are all about the same distance away (~200 miles). I would appreciate any feedback and experiences with those dealers - good or bad. Specific areas of interest include:

  • Customer service
  • service
  • pricing
  • demo policy - can you ride (see below)

Please feel free to send a PM if there is feedback you would rather not share with the rest of the crew.

Below is a liitle more background info on the primary reason for my interst in the regional Malibu dealers.

  • Malibu/towboats are a very small part of the business for the new local dealer competing with fishing boats, runabouts, and RVs/trailers. They have sold Moomba in the past and still do but judging from the presence (lack of) on the river here very small numbers - you rarely see them. Malibu has dominated the towboat market here most likely because it has had the most stable dealer (13+ years) whose only line was Malibu in recent history.
  • I was able to "Demo" a surfgate equipped VLX with the local dealer a week ago. However, due to their insurance coverage I was not able to surf behind it.
  • I had requested to demo a 30th Anniversary 23LSV also in their inventory explaining that I currently own a 23 with the same hull and would be staying with a 23 if I decided to order a 2013. The dealer did not want to demo that boat stating that they perefered not to fill it up with gas and have it sitting in the showroom full during the winter if it did not sell in the fall and would need to cleanup and detail after a demo. I stopped pushing for a demo of that boat once I was told I could not ride during the demo.
  • The dealer does not have a Malibu certified service tech yet. One of the techs is certified by Indmar and is reportedly being sent to Malibu in the fall to get certified.
  • The salesman appears to be a stand-up guy and has been very polite but is new to the dealer within the past couple of months has no previoius experience with Malibu. I know the boat well enough other than surfgate that this is not a huge factor.
  • I dont have any references and am not aware of any recent experiences with the dealer - good or bad.

The primary reason I am considering a 2013 is the surfgate. Other than that, the hull and wake performance is identical to what I own currently - so there is no chance of making the jump without actually riding the surfgate wave.

My first interest is finding a dealer I can arrange a riding demo with. If this is an option with more than one of the dealers and there are feedback and experience differences in the other areas of interest, I would prefer to start my discussions there.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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I purchased My 2010 from Active water sports, I have been dealing with these guys for over 20 years...They have been awesome to work with, Every Time i'm in there they treat me like royalty... Great service, and as for my salesman Gerry, still great even after the sale!! I would highly recommend them, Oh and anytime i want to demo anything all I had to do was ask!!! They were more then accommodating..Funny Gerry keeps asking me to come up and surf behind the new Surf-gate, So I don't think you will have worry about riding behind one of there boats, They encourage it!!! ask for Gerry, http://www.activeh2o.com/boats

Edited by Wakesetter67
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Considering a new WS 23 LSV w/surfgate. Located in Richland, Washington. The local Malibu dealer has changed within the last year and I have no experience with them.

Huh? Isn't Sundown Marine still the Malibu dealer in TriCities? I'm not sure how long they have been, but it's been quite a few years.

Just to add to your delima, there is also Hagadone Marine in Coeur d'Alene. I didn't buy from them, but they take really good care of every issue I've ever brought to them.

Edited by Bill_AirJunky
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Huh? Isn't Sundown Marine still the Malibu dealer in TriCities? I'm not sure how long they have been, but it's been quite a few years.

The Sundown owner decided to get out of the boat business to focus on his original business at the end of the season last year. They had been the malibu dealer at least since 2000. A couple of the former sundown employees heve kept the name and part of the facility and are trying to make a go of boat storage and service.

Traveland RV and Marine is the new Malibu dealer in the Tri-Cities.

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SBC will do demos, they have a Surfgate demo tomorrow, get on their email list for demo events. John Cooper is good people and is easy to talk to.

Don't forget Bakes for service, I'm a DIY and get my parts from them awesome service.

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I also recommend AWS. They are really not like any dealership I've ever been too... more like a great group of boat/Watersports enthusiasts. Very kick back atmosphere.

As far as demos, there's not a boat in their stable that I couldn't get behind on a day's notice... Even the G23. I'm actually going in a demo of the SA450 on Tuesday!

Highly recommend AWS. Give Gerry a call.

  • Like 1
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If your looking to buy a new boat from a dealer out of your area, good luck with that. The dealers sign territory agreements which don't allow them to sell *new* boats to people that live within a certain radius of another dealer. Used boats or last years models are not included in that agreement from what I have been told. If your looking for a new one, you will have to deal with the new dealer or find some way to circumvent that agreement.

As far as the insurance issue with the dealer, I have never heard of that from our dealers here in the Portland area. How would you know you will like the wake unless you try it? Put a small refundable deposit on it and go for a ride. When you ask for it back, hand them a bottle of stay-bil for the gas tank. That's a crappy excuse IMO.

Edited by JTech
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I wouldn't buy from Seattle Boat. They're getting out of Malibu (I've heard) at the end of the year and Larson Auto Group in Tacoma is taking it over. I have some experience with Larson as an auto dealer, and they annoy me. (Audi/Porsche.) Not sure how well they will fare.

Sadly the sales & support for Malibu in the Puget Sound region has gone down the crapper. thankfully we still have Bakes.

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The Sundown owner decided to get out of the boat business to focus on his original business at the end of the season last year. They had been the malibu dealer at least since 2000. A couple of the former sundown employees heve kept the name and part of the facility and are trying to make a go of boat storage and service.

Traveland RV and Marine is the new Malibu dealer in the Tri-Cities.

Heard back from a buddy of mine on this. Bummer.

I have done boat shows & skied in ski shows with Warren from AWS back before he was the Malibu dealer. I believe he was selling MB Sports at the time. Good guy all the way around.

BTW, I believe his kids swapped the youngest skier record with the Bonifays some years ago. :thumbup:

  • Like 1
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If your looking to buy a new boat from a dealer out of your area, good luck with that. The dealers sign territory agreements which don't allow them to sell *new* boats to people that live within a certain radius of another dealer. Used boats or last years models are not included in that agreement from what I have been told. If your looking for a new one, you will have to deal with the new dealer or find some way to circumvent that agreement.

As far as the insurance issue with the dealer, I have never heard of that from our dealers here in the Portland area. How would you know you will like the wake unless you try it? Put a small refundable deposit on it and go for a ride. When you ask for it back, hand them a bottle of stay-bil for the gas tank. That's a crappy excuse IMO.

Are you sure on this? Because we were just talking to a dealer about 8 hours away and he had no problem selling us a boat and there is another dealer only 3 hours away but they also have very little inventory.

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SBC brokered my deal on my boat. They were great except they never mailed in my registration. I called and emailed John Cooper a number of times getting the same response that he called DOL and they were super backed up and I should have it soon. Season started and I still didnt have it. Then I called the DOL, they never got it. SBC never sent it in so they basically sat on my $4900 check for my taxes and registration for 4 months. The paper pusher took the blame for it and said it was a mistake and said they arent a shady company like that. Of course they had no problem lying to me on the phone and through email that my stuff was sent in...

Bakes all the way for service!

I cant imagine SBC giving up their malibu charter. In the seattle area everyone seems to want pickled forks, big boats, and lots of bling as id say 90% of people here are surfing. With the MXZ24 and surfgate I imagine malibu is going to blow back up here.

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I cant imagine SBC giving up their malibu charter. In the seattle area everyone seems to want pickled forks, big boats, and lots of bling as id say 90% of people here are surfing. With the MXZ24 and surfgate I imagine malibu is going to blow back up here.

SBC is a Cobalt dealership, always have been, always will be. Not surprised in the slightest they are giving up so quickly on Malibus. :shrug:

To me, it's extremely short-sighted for Malibu to let the charter flop around among the parties in the Puget Sound. I mean, letting it go to Larson? Are you kidding me? In my humble opinion they started losing market share to MC (and to MB & Centurion, really) when they went with SBC, and it's only going to get worse with Larson. This is not a territory I would mess with, as this region buys a lot of boats, and the other brands have some damn fine dealers in this area (especially MC.)

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SBC brokered my deal on my boat. They were great except they never mailed in my registration. I called and emailed John Cooper a number of times getting the same response that he called DOL and they were super backed up and I should have it soon. Season started and I still didnt have it. Then I called the DOL, they never got it. SBC never sent it in so they basically sat on my $4900 check for my taxes and registration for 4 months. The paper pusher took the blame for it and said it was a mistake and said they arent a shady company like that. Of course they had no problem lying to me on the phone and through email that my stuff was sent in...

This is not a good sign. This is what was happening at Bridge City before they went under and took some owners with them.

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yeah malibu has certainly lost their market share for new boat sales to MC and Centurian. No surprise there with the influence of the inland surfer guys and also the MC dealership. Id say malibu is still the most popular boat you see on the water but you just dont see many new ones. Now though malibu has given people a reason to upgrade so maybe people start swapping their old ones for new ones.

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If this rumor is true, I can't believe they don't approach BAKES about returning the franchise to them. There is so much goodwill surrounding them in this region and across the country on this forum. Malibu should swallow its pride, do what is right for the NW watersport scene and for their brand in the NW--approach BAKES. The party alone would be awesome!!! Such a move would go a long way to reestablishing Malibu boats at the center of watersports scene in this region. Hell, Lake Sammamish is practically the birth place of wakerskiing--that reason alone suggests Malibu should keep a dealership presence on that lake. The local watersport scene has started to migrate to other brands since BAKES was cut out. I think the return to Malibus would be instant, if the franchise returned to BAKES.

Just my 2 cents...

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^2nd. I wouldn't let the Malibu dealership slide too far away from the heart of wakeboarding in this region (in some ways, the world) and put it in Tacoma. Bad, bad move if you ask me.

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If this rumor is true, I can't believe they don't approach BAKES about returning the franchise to them. There is so much goodwill surrounding them in this region and across the country on this forum. Malibu should swallow its pride, do what is right for the NW watersport scene and for their brand in the NW--approach BAKES. The party alone would be awesome!!! Such a move would go a long way to reestablishing Malibu boats at the center of watersports scene in this region. Hell, Lake Sammamish is practically the birth place of wakerskiing--that reason alone suggests Malibu should keep a dealership presence on that lake. The local watersport scene has started to migrate to other brands since BAKES was cut out. I think the return to Malibus would be instant, if the franchise returned to BAKES.

Just my 2 cents...

:rofl: Hahaha, not that I disagree with the rest of the statement, but that made me laugh.

Edited by Bill_AirJunky
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Ok......I just heard what was flying around here! I skipped to the end in order to get typing before this rumor got bent more out of shape.

We are not giving up on Malibu now or ever. We were a top 10 dealer last year for Malibu....our first real full year for them! Yes we are having some growing pains.....I think its to be expected when you pick up a new product line and an entirely new demographic of customers.

I personally have been waiting to pick up a line of towboats since starting with this company 13 years ago. When Malibu started shopping us I/we jumped at the chance knowing the quality of the boat and the passion of all of you owners out there! Yes....again it has been a learning experience and we are getting there.

One of the big differences has been parts. We have historically not really had a retail based parts department because frankly our Cobalt customers don't buy parts...they just tell us to "fix it and get it back to my dock"! With Malibu it's a whole new ball game...you guys love your boats (as I love them) and you want to work on them.....so our parts departments at both stores have been gearing up and changing their way of thinking to work more with our Malibu customers on over the counter parts.

There is always more to add but the best thing right now is if anyone has any questions about my company, our boats or anything else just ask.

Thanks for the ear:)

(Sorry...in my haste to reply I forgot to say...I am an employee at Seattle Boat Co.)

Edited by johncooper
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I can also vouch for Seattle Boat Company. They have brokered my last two sales, my last purchase, and I'm currently getting ready to ink the deal on my 2013 boat with them. John Cooper, James Baker, and even the owner, Al, are all great guys who love boats and I have no issue whatsoever recommending them to friends and family.

Seattle Boat's service department has also come a long ways and is now top notch. They have solved several problems for me on 30 minutes notice, respond to cell phone calls, and emails at almost all hours, and have been able to help me get things warrantied on several occasions.

I personally have no complaints on Seattle Boats... but I do know that they won't sell a new boat to a customer outside their area, so if you are in another dealers area that might be a concern.

Best of luck!

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Are you sure on this? Because we were just talking to a dealer about 8 hours away and he had no problem selling us a boat and there is another dealer only 3 hours away but they also have very little inventory.

Yes I am sure. I am not 100% versed on the whole thing, which may be why that dealer thinks they can sell you a boat. It might have to do with if there is one within so many miles of your address, if not, it doesn't apply type thing. Maybe John can chime in and let us know what the actual deal is.

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The official policy is that we try and keep our customers in our area under our wing so in the long run they will be happier with the service and the personal assistance you get from forming a lasting relationship between customer and dealer. I know it's easy to call around to make sure your getting the best deal you can which I cannot fault you at all. We all like to get the best deal possible. All we would ask is that we sit down and compare boats apples to apples so everybody is on the same page with pricing.

The last thing I want to do is make the buying process painfull....it should be a fun process from start to finish. I try to give people the best deals possible.....I would rather you leave here knowing you got a great deal....and tell all your friends to come and see me rather than squeezing you for every penny I can just to make an extra buck.

So...if you shopping around and you find a better price just get it on paper...bring it in...and I will match it. This way you are connected to a local dealer, you have me or your local dealer at your beckon call...and you will never be to far away from help with any problems or questions that may come up.

Not sure if that answered the question......PM me if I can answer anything else.

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  • 1 month later...

How's this for a testemonial on Active Water Sports' demoing policy and customer service........

2 weekends ago me and the family were out enjoying a day on the beach. A guy sitting on the beach 100yds up, with a 2013 LSV, wanders down and starts chatting me up about my boat (09 Vride) and tells me his LSV I've been eyeballing all day is SurfGate equipped. He explains a little about the system and says, "Heck, you want a pull?" The guy was Gerry from Active WaterSports. I can't say enough about how cool it was for him to do this. It would have been easy for him to NOT do this and kept relaxing on the beach, but he chose to. I think that says a lot and I will definitely be taking my business to him when the day comes to look at new boats!

Had the opportunity to experience the AWS demo policy and customer service attidude first hand last weekend. Big props to Gerry and the crew at AWS! Separate topic started to provide details.

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