Employee buys Lake Breeze Marina at Point Breeze
Gatlen Ernst is no stranger to the business
POINT BREEZE – The Lake Breeze Marina has a new owner, and he is well-known to customers and the Point Breeze community.
Gatlen Ernst, 30, closed on the sale last Thursday, acquiring the business from Doug and Janice Bennett. Ernst worked for them for 10 years.
“He’s been a good employee and he had the desire,” Mr. Bennett said. “Everybody likes Gatlen and everybody knows him. It should be a smooth takeover for him.”
The marina has 44 dock slips, nine storage barns for boats, and a main service building with gas, diesel, propane and boating supplies, parts and accessories.
“This has been a dream of mine since I started working here,” Ernst said at the marina today. “I love being outside and working with the customers.”
When he was hired 10 years ago, Ernst mowed the lawns and did other odd jobs at the marina. Ernst was 20 at the time, working during the summer while he was a college student. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nazareth College with a concentration in entrepreneurship and marketing.
He praised the Bennetts for investing in the business and steadily upgrading it. They added six storage buildings and expanded the main service building and shop.
“We improved it, and Gatlen was part of it,” Bennett said.
Ernst is renaming the business to Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. He is keeping two full-time mechanics, Doug Farewell and Gary Simmons, and also has added another mechanic. Ben Diltz of Kent joins the marina after graduating from the Marine Mechanics Institute in Florida.
Ernst has another new face at the business: his fiancée Danielle Daniels. She knows about the commitment to make a small business succeed. Her father, Mike Pilon, co-owned Dale’s Supermarket in Albion for many years.
Ernst is the sole owner of the marina business. He purchased the real estate in a partnership with Rod Farrow, a Lake Breeze customer. Farrow is an apple farmer who lives on the other side of the Oak Orchard River.
Ernst will be handling the day-to-day operations. He sees a lot of potential in Point Breeze, which was named the “Ultimate Fishing Town” last year by the World Fishing Network.
“I’m optimistic that there’s room for growth,” he said. “The river is beautiful. It’s great for fishing.”
Ernst and his crew are ready to start the boating season. It generally runs from April 1 to Oct. 31.
“We’ll be launching boats this week,” he said. “People are anxious.”