The Keys community is filled with people that were born elsewhere but found their permanent home on the islands. This is true not only for Steve Sioui, the sales manager of Marine Connection, but also for the store itself.
Steve was born in Detroit, Michigan, but dreamt of making the Keys his permanent home for years. However, he and his wife, Dee, remained in Detroit and only vacationed in the Keys until their youngest son graduated high school.
When that day came a decade ago, they said goodbye to the cold and hello to their new, sunny home in the Keys. Their long-felt sense of belonging was instantly confirmed; the islands are and will always be their home. Steve dove headfirst into the boating industry. As a lifelong fisherman and outdoorsman, he couldn’t think of a better way to immerse himself in the boating and fishing lifestyle that drew him to the Keys.
Steve and Dee are thankful that the same lifestyle also drew their sons and grandson down. They made South Florida their permanent home not long after their parents. Nick, the youngest son, is a fishing charter captain in Marathon, and Greg, the eldest, went into construction.
However, about a year ago, Greg was involved in a serious accident on the job site. A steel pole pierced through his hand and he lost function in it for a while. Thankfully, his hand recovered, but his desire to do construction work did not. At the time, Steve had just begun working with Marine Connection at their new Islamorada location. He was very pleased with the company and thought it could be a great working environment for his son, too.
“Marine Connection is the best company I’ve ever worked for,” Steve says. “Everyone is honest, hard-working, and sensible, and I knew my son would enjoy working here as much as I do. Plus, I could teach him everything I’ve learned in the industry over the past 10 years.”
The heads of Marine Connection agreed and gladly gave a position to Greg. Like his dad, he is a sales manager and is excelling at the Aventuro location in Miami. As with all their locations, Steve and Greg often collaborate to ensure their clients receive the best service and find exactly what they need.
Marine Connection’s multiple locations along the eastern coastline is one of their biggest advantages to their customers. They can go into any branch, whether they purchased their boat at that location or not, and receive the same customer and repair service.
Their span covering the full length of Florida is complete now that Marine Connection Islamorada has finally found its permanent home. The company has been in the Keys for the past couple of years, but they were located in a less-than-ideal location.
“The brand new storefront is great and sits on a big lot that accommodates 30-40 boats,” Steve says. “This new location lives up to the strong brand that everyone knows and trusts.”
Marine Connection Islamorada is located in place of the old Ace Hardware at Mile Marker 82.7. The new facility is a complete dealership with a storefront, sales lot, and service department. The boat slots are going to be filled with Cobia, Hurricane, Cobalt, and some unique brands that perform great in the Keys.
The company is holding a Grand Opening for the facility on Saturday, December 17th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.Everyone is invited to enjoy food, live music, and promotions.
There will even be a ribbon cutting with the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce. Team members from every Marine Connection location will be present, giving attendees an opportunity to meet the entire network they would be connected with as customers. Plus, manufacturer reps from Cobia, Hurricane, and Cobalt will also be in attendance.
Steve is looking forward to showing off the facility to new people and his existing client base. After all, his connection with his customers doesn’t end after their purchase. Steve often goes fishing or boating with them, especially if they want extra guidance to get more comfortable with their new toy.
It’s certainly one of the perks of the job as much as it is a perk for the customer. Steve loves to boat and fish on his time off, too, and so does his wife. Funnily enough, their own boat is often parked while they go off with friends and customers for a day on the water.
Steve also received some exciting news from headquarters recently. Now that Marine Connection has a permanent home in the Keys, they are going to man a brand new fishing boat with a local fishing team. Steve will be able to take customers fishing and exploring all around the islands and likely compete in many local events.
“Many of our customers are new to boating, at least in the Keys,” Steve explains, “so having a shop boat to take them out on will help inform them and build their confidence.”
Steve sees the shop fishing boat as another opportunity to grow closer to his sons, too. He and Greg can coordinate to take their customers out and Captain Nick can offer expert advice. Hopefully, Nick can even join them for some outings. This family mentality is one of the main reasons Marine Connection was named #1 in North America by Boating Industry Magazine.
For over 25 years, their mission has been to “provide the most pleasant boat shopping experience possible.” The team achieves this by treating their customers like friends and family.Unlike other dealerships, Marine Connection freely offers sea trials to interested parties. They don’t require a deposit or proof of funds.
“We don’t use any pressure tactics because we believe the lifestyle sells itself. The more we share the lifestyle, the better for the customer and for us,” Steve explains.
Phil Piontek, the General Sales Manager of Marine Connection, agrees. He works closely with Steve and all the sales managers to ensure they have everything they need to serve their customers. Phil started as a sales manager himself at the Vero Beach location.
“When I started working with Marine Connection, I knew I made a great decision. They treat me and all their employees with trust and respect, knowing we’ll extend that to our customers. It’s the right way to do business.”
Of course, when it comes to the boating industry, it’s not all work and no play. Quite the opposite, actually.
“The boating industry is fun!” Steve says. “Whether I’m boating, fishing, or working, it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle I really love.”
Long gone are the long winters and bundled-up fishing days for Steve and his family. As he says, “I have no other home than the Keys!” He and Dee will continue to enjoy the long summers and warm fishing days with their sons and grandson in their new forever home.
Marine Connection has settled into its permanent home in the Keys, as well. The team hopes to welcome you at the Grand Opening on December 17th.
No Reserve online auction starts Saturday December 10th at 3:00pm and will ending our Grand Opening Event Dec. 17th at 3:00pm. This will be an amazing opportunity to get a deal of a lifetime and become a proud owner of a brand-new Hurricane Deck Boat!
– Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.