Originally founded as a “home base” for former Donzi and Wellcraft test driver Doug Valentine’s two-day offshore driving school, International Performance has found a new brick-and-mortar home, so to speak, and added a website. According to a press release from the Sarasota, Fla., outfit, the company has secured an insured, fire-alarm-and-security protected 12,000-square-foot facility for performance-boat storage and an array of in-house services including simple boat washing and engine flushing, engine service, upholstery upgrades, lamination repair, custom paint work and more.
According to Valentine, a former offshore racing world champion who has more than 30 years of experience in the high-performance powerboat business, the need for expansion grew out of customer demand. Clients both in and outside the Sarasota area who completed his hands-on offshore driving school began asking him if he could take care of their boats and—if he found the right facility—stable them.
Now working alongside Valentine at International Performance is Mark Bonafide, who has more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience with performance-boat companies including Donzi and Powerquest.
“I think it is important for International Performance to offer a complete package to our clients and Mark is extremely well-versed with the performance boat market,” Valentine said in the press release. “He is in the loop with all the manufacturers’ new and used product pricing and technical specs, and has the ability to help a client find the right boat or sell and move into the right boat. Make has great talent for finding a good deal.”
Bonafide also will help with “special project management,” as well as customer service. To that end, International Performance will organize and lead its own group performance-boat trips for both local clients as well as clients from the Northeast who store their boats at the company’s facility during the winter.
“This gives our northern boating friends the opportunity to venture into our warm Gulf of Mexico waters during their winter season on some of our group trips from our location in Sarasota to Ft. Myers, or as far south as Key West,” said Valentine. “We are not trying to become a boat club or poker run club that requires an entry fee, but we do already have several clients who have committed to a group trip to the Keys as it is always more fun with a few more boats and friends but not necessarily 80 or 100 boats. We prefer to keep things a little less crazy and a little more cost-effective, and pursue a more personal, intimate adventure.
“Clients will not be left on their own in unknown waters,” he added. “We’ll do all preparations to help assure there will be no technical failures along the way.”
Valentine added that International Performance intends to “network with existing poker run clubs” to help support the storage, service and technical needs of their members. The company will provide before-and- after poker run service for interested clients.
“Mark and I would also like to suggest to our northern clients to take advantage of our concierge service,” said Valentine. “The enables the ‘up north’ client to ‘arrive and drive,’” he said. “The boat is stored in our facility and then, with advance notice, we launch the boat. They fly in, we pick them up and take them to their hotel. They boat in the Gulf for the weekend while staying at the Sarasota Ritz or Hyatt, then we retrieve the boat, wash, flush, service and store it until next time.”
Valentine emphasized that he will continue his offshore driving school.
“The driving school is still my foremost passion,” he said. “To see my clients gain confidence and respect for their equipment by the end of the second day, to see their smiles of accomplishment, is as rewarding as anything I’ve ever done or won.”