While many bemoan the collapse of mom-and-pop shops, we’re happy to report on one that is still alive and kickin’, and has been, since 1967! Lancaster County Marine truly is a family operation, with three generations of the Hartman family handling the business. Dale Sr. and Fran Hartman opened shop in Rothsville, PA, 49 years ago, with their two sons, Dale Jr. and Duane, growing up behind the counter and in the maintenance bay.
It only took three years for them to outgrow that first location, so they moved to their present showroom in Akron, PA, and gave themselves room to stretch. “Early in the beginning of our business a popular by-pass road was built that has helped to bring customers to our store with ease,” says Dale Jr., who grew up to become general sales manager for the shop. “We are in Lancaster County, PA which is a heavy farming community known as hard working and value oriented. Our area is very popular for tourists due to our culture, entertainment, dining, shopping and more. We have customers that visit us from all over the US because of the many experiences our area offers.”
It is still very much a family business, with Dale Jr.’s daughter, Sarah, working for them too, and Fran whipping up a home-cooked meal for everyone at lunch. Some things have changed over the years however, “Canoes have changed with more materials and models available,” says Dale Jr. “The kayaks went from a lot of white water use to a huge recreational business. Paddleboards didn’t exist and now paddleboards are a growing sport. In the beginning watersports seemed to be more of a man’s sport but now it’s very much a women’s sport too. A larger product selection allows our customers to meet needs and specific use.”
There are few places, with the exception of paddlesports trade shows, where you can find more canoes, kayaks and SUPs on display in one place. Certainly Lancaster County Marine is one of the only ones who keep them up year round. They have over 450 displayed, and over 1000 in stock! “‘WOW!’ is a common remark from all who visit our store,” says Dale Jr. The selection is endless, in part because “we work with quality vendors and reps,” says Dale Jr. “Our customers get what they want and should get, versus settling with what the store only has or needs rid of.”
You will hear it again and again when you talk to the Hartmans. Their focus on customer service is above and beyond. “The enjoyment of our customers on the water is what drives our store,” says Dale Jr. “[We] help our customers get the right products and equipment to enjoy all that being on the water has to offer. There’s nothing better than being on the water!”
We at MTI, wholeheartedly agree.
“The function, style and quality of MTI products along with great features and a fair price has kept us coming back to MTI,” says Dale Jr. We are looking forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2017. Their favorite MTI models are the Java and Reflex.
Lancaster County Marine is holding its annual Watersports Expo this Friday and Saturday, April 15-16. Swing by to see the latest models and talk with brand reps for many of the leading manufacturers. Make sure you say “hi” to the newest MTI sales rep, Dave Moseley, who will be at Lancaster County Marine’s Watersports Expo with boards from ECS SUP & Surf.