Joe Schaldenbrand, who co-owns Sunsation Boats in Algonac, Mich., with Kyle Miller, is a realist. When Schaldenbrand, who started the company in 1982 with his brother, Wayne, saw the company’s CCX performance center console models rapidly outselling its V-bottom sportboat models, he and his partners walked away from the sportboat market. Sunsation fans howled, but had Schaldenbrand been less realistic the company likely would have died long ago. Instead, it’s thriving.
Joe Schaldenbrand (left) joined Brad Manire of Performance Boat Center—Sunsation’s leading dealer—for the 2018 Miami International Boat Show. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
More recently, Schaldenbrand took a hard look at the road out of the COVID-19 pandemic and began stocking up on engines, electronics and more before the Michigan economy went on lock-down for more than eight weeks. Now that Sunsation is up and running again, the 59-year-old found a few minutes to talk.
How did Sunsation weather the coronavirus storm?
We didn’t lose anybody—100 percent of our workers came back. We kept everybody on payroll all the way through. I was here every day, much of time with (fellow Sunsation company owner) Kyle Miller, controller Len Solecki and a few other folks who popped in and out, and the sales calls actually increased. The phone has been blowing up with sales and leads. So has the website. (Laughs) Who would have ever thought your employees would look forward to coming back to work?
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