Monday, November 24, 2014


The iconic Crates Marina on Lake Simcoe in Keswick has gone into receivership as of Friday November 21st, 2014. Apparently they owed creditors $28M dollars. It affects all of their marinas except for the Belleville operation. NOTE that Crates Lake Country Boats is not associated with Crates Keswick and it has different owners.

So Crates Keswick has been on the marine scene forever, with a presence on Lake Simcoe (Lagoon City, Willow Beach & Keswick), Lake Ontario (Belleville & Port Credit) and Georgian Bay (Port McNicoll). No doubt a receiver will run the marina operations in a fashion that will stop the bleeding until the assets can be sold. And no doubt some other marinas will benefit as boaters at Crates properties look for options. But overall it’s a black eye for the marine industry in Ontario and of course there will be lots of pain for various private and public creditors that stand to loose much of their hard earned money that will vaporize, as the business winds down.

It’s sad to see and this is confirmation that it has been a tough slog for marina operators over the last eight years. Five years post recession the industry is tapped out ... while ironically it is at the cusp of a recovery that is working it’s way up from the US and via confidence in the economy. Those marina operators that are prudent and efficient and have held their prices through excellent customer service are the ones that are left standing to carry forward. It’s a lesson that we can all learn from, as we have seen this picture before. It’s easy to forget, that when a recession technically ends there can be a long slow recovery process that follows that is far more brutal on many small businesses than the recession itself. It’s a slow but insidious erosion that creeps in and tips the scales at some point beyond recovery. The ones that fail simply can’t wait it out any longer, even though better times are just around the corner. Failure creates opportunity for more efficient competitors and bottom feeders who bide their time looking for opportunities when they arise. Our hope is that some capable and efficient operators will pick up these properties and life will move on. Unfortunately there will no doubt be a few years of turmoil for the business ... and the boaters that call Crates their second home.

Posted by at 1:04 PM