AMI Elects New Board Members

The Association of Marina Industries (AMI) elected its 2020 officers and directors at its annual International Marina & Boatyard Conference (IMBC) held January 14 to 16, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Chris Petty of Suntex Waterfront Management was appointed chair; John Swick, CMM, of Safe Harbor Marinas was appointed vice chair; Rick Chapman, CMM, of Port of Sunnyside Club Inc. was appointed treasurer; and Kevin Thompson of Bellingham Marine was appointed secretary.

Three new members were elected to the 2020 board of directors for a three-year term – Kathy Haley, CMM, of Miami Dade Parks and Recreation; Ted Schiafone, CMM, of City of Oceanside; and Odai Sirri of Waterfront Suites & Marina.

The new board members will join the existing board, which includes: Austin Cameron of VIP Marina, LLC; Ray Fernandez, CMM, of Bridge Marina; John Chiazza of Aon Risk Solutions; Giuseppe Alvarado of Shilshole Bay Marina; Enza Montano of Chicago Harbors – Westrec; Marieke van Peer, CMM, of Seahaven Superyacht Marina; Chris Dolan of Marina Electrical Equipment; Steve Linton, CMM, of Pikes Bay Marina; Bill Young of Morningstar Properties; and Joe Riley, CMM, of Riley Marine Group.

AMI is a nonprofit membership organization that provides management training, education and information on research, legislation and environmental issues affecting the marina industry.

New owners of Meridian Marina planning renovations, expansion of facility

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Jenny and Austin Cameron, of Austin, Texas, walk with their daughter Coltie, 2, through the stacks of boats in dry dock at Meridian Marina, on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Palm City. The Camerons are the new owners of the marina and are preparing for extensive repairs to the existing storage facility, adding additional storage, boat sales, a repair shop and a waterfront restaurant.

Jenny and Austin Cameron, of Austin, Texas, walk with their daughter Coltie, 2, through the stacks of boats in dry dock at Meridian Marina, on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Palm City. The Camerons are the new owners of the marina and are preparing for extensive repairs to the existing storage facility, adding additional storage, boat sales, a repair shop and a waterfront restaurant.

Ryan Jacobs (left) and Austin Cameron help guide a boat onto a forklift to be washed and placed into storage on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. Cameron, along with his wife Jenny, took over ownership of the marina in January and are in the first stages of repairing the existing storage facility with eventual expansion to house more boats.

Ryan Jacobs (left) and Austin Cameron help guide a boat onto a forklift to be washed and placed into storage on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. Cameron, along with his wife Jenny, took over ownership of the marina in January and are in the first stages of repairing the existing storage facility with eventual expansion to house more boats.

A boat is slowly placed in dry dock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, recently took ownership of the marina and are planning to increase storage capacity, open a repair shop and add a waterfront restaurant.

A boat is slowly placed in dry dock on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, recently took ownership of the marina and are planning to increase storage capacity, open a repair shop and add a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, play with their children, 8-month-old Hudson and 2-year-old Coltie, on their boat 'Corporate Office' on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. The Camerons took over ownership of the marina in January and live on their boat while planning the repair and eventual expansion of the facility.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, play with their children, 8-month-old Hudson and 2-year-old Coltie, on their boat ‘Corporate Office’ on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Meridian Marina in Palm City. The Camerons took over ownership of the marina in January and live on their boat while planning the repair and eventual expansion of the facility.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

Austin and Jenny Cameron, of Austin, Texas, took over ownership of Meridian Marina in Palm City in January. The Camerons are planning extensive renovations including repairs to and expansion of the current storage facility, opening a repair shop, boat sales and a waterfront restaurant.

VIP Marinas Purchases Meridian Marina and Yacht Club

After being in bankruptcy since summer 2019, Meridian Marina and Yacht Club in Palm City, Florida, is now under new ownership and undergoing improvements.

“Twenty-four months from now it will look like a totally different place,” said Austin Cameron, owner of VIP Marinas. With the addition of Meridian Marina, the company now owns two Florida marinas, one on each coast.

The previous owner had managed the property since 2009, taking ownership around 2015. Cameron said the owner did not have money to invest in the property for the last several years. “When you have a marina and stop fixing stuff it snowballs,” he said.

When VIP Marinas took ownership in January 2021 there were holes in the roof of the boat storage building, environmental concerns, and one of the employees told him they had not had soap for six months.

“The existing employees are incredible,” Cameron said. “They’ve been holding it together with duct tape and bubble gum. They’ve worked their tails off.”
Colliers International Leisure Property Advisors had the listing originally. A representative at Colliers said they had several offers on the property, but the owner “kept moving the goal post.” Cameron was one of those early potential buyers.

The new owner plans to add storage for another 280 boats

He and his wife, Jenny, who is a co-owner of VIP Marinas, spent the night on their boat at Meridian Marina and met with the owner, Tim Mullen. Cameron told Mullen what he thought the marina was valued at, but they couldn’t work out a deal. “We moved on.” Cameron said. “Jenny was on maternity leave and we spent our time cruising the Florida coastlines looking for another marina to buy.”

In the interim, the bankruptcy proceedings continued, and the marina was scheduled to go up for auction in December 2020. Then one day the owner called Cameron to see if he was still interested. “He said, ‘Let me know today.’”
The Camerons were living on their boat “Corporate Office” at Anclote Village, a marina in Holiday, Florida, that VIP Marinas bought in September 2019. They planned to boat to Palm City, but when they got to Lake Okeechobee they found the lock was closed due to vegetation blocking the waterway. They turned around, went back to Fort Myers and rented a car to make the drive.
Because of the looming deadline and the auction approaching, Cameron said he had about a week to do due diligence on the property and did not have time to go through the usual contract process. He got approval from the court the day before the marina was set to go on the auction block. The sale closed 30 days later, and they took possession on January 8, 2021.

“It’s an old marina and needs a lot of love,” Cameron said. His immediate priorities were a new roof for the boat storage building, buying a new forklift, upgrading the fuel system and environmental remediation.

Even with all the problems at the property, it was operating at near capacity and there is demand for growth. A new planned community is being built about five miles from the marina that will include 4,200 homes.

Cameron’s timeline includes renovating and repairing the existing buildings by June 1, starting the process for expansion, which he expects to take about 18 months, and by the third year being fully operational. “It’s going to be a massive turnaround,” he said.

The marina sits on 11.75 acres along the St. Lucie River. The property includes a 62,000-square-foot storage facility that can accommodate up to 300 boats, and a 6,000-square-foot multi-purpose building. The docks include three wet slips and a staging area for boaters.

Cameron plans to add storage for another 280 boats, including space that can accommodate today’s larger boats. He also wants to position the marina as a stopping point for transient boaters. “In our first week, we had three transients stop over,” he said. The new additions will include dock space for transients, a new seawall, a restaurant, new fuel system, a laundry facility, ships store, boat sales and service, and courtesy car service.

VIP Marinas Growth
While Austin and Jenny are busy putting their plans in motion at Meridian, his brother has joined the team as a managing partner at Marina Bay Harbor in Clear Lake Shores, Texas. Marina Bay Harbor is a fully-enclosed dry stack facility that can accommodate 220 boats up to 47 feet in length.
Cameron said that property is seeing a full turn-around as well – they are installing new docks, a new fuel system, service center and ship’s store.

VIP Marinas took over ownership of Meridian Marina and Yacht Club in Palm City, Florida in January 2021.

The company also expanded its Surfside Marina in Surfside Beach, Texas, by buying the facility next door, which allowed them to nearly quadruple the service center capacity.

Early in his career, Cameron set a goal to own 10 marinas by the time he was 45, when he surpassed that, he upped the ante to 15 marinas. Now at age 41, he owns 12 marinas.
He shares the credit for his success with his employees and local managers and says he’s lucky to be the leader of VIP Marinas. “I wouldn’t be able to do this if my other team members weren’t so amazing,” he said. “I don’t even have to be at my other facilities. Our Chief Operating Officer Felecia Ongley and the local management teams are who does the work day-to-day. They treat the marina as if it were their own. We’re very blessed to have the employees we do.”

Meridian Marina Renovates Storage and Plans More

In January 2021, Austin and Jenny Cameron, owners of VIP Marinas, bought the Meridian Marina in Palm City, Florida. The marina, located on the banks of the St. Lucie River, was in foreclosure as the previous owner had declared bankruptcy. The 62,000- square-foot dry storage facility had been in a state of disrepair since Hurricane Irma swept through the area in 2017.

“The siding had been blown off and the roof was leaking badly. Rust from the roof was falling in on the boats,” said Jenny Cameron. The building, which has space for 260 boats up to 42 feet long, was in such bad condition that the Camerons couldn’t get it insured.

The new owners began renovations almost immediately. To save money on the project, they worked with Extreme Metal Fabricators, a local metal supply/fabrication house. “This is a small community, so we thought it was important to support local business here,” said Austin Cameron. They also hired David Coyle of Mack David Building as a consultant to oversee the project and make sure that the facility was properly constructed. As of late May 2021, installation of the roof and metal wall panels was almost complete, ready for the planned decorative panels.

Even before the renovations, occupancy of the facility was almost at 70% because of the huge popularity of boating in the area. With the renovations, Jenny Cameron said they expect to be at 100% occupancy very soon. So the owners are planning an addition to the facility that will include another 280 boat racks. Half of them will be in an addition to the current dry storage facility, and will be able to accommodate boats up to 50 feet. The other half will be located outside on the marina’s 11.75-acre site. The marina is currently going through the permitting and approval process for the additional slips, and the Camerons say that City representatives have verbally supported their plans.

When VIP Marinas took over the marina, the concrete paths and launch areas were full of potholes. “There’s a giant hole on our launch area where they had pulled out the gas tank from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s,” said Austin Cameron.

Before they could replace all of the broken, cracked and patched concrete, that area had to undergo several environmental tests and gain approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“We finally got our final, fourth round of tests, and we have clean soil, so we’re going to be repouring 12-inch-thick concrete for the entire path,” said Austin. The marina has also replaced two old forklifts with newer, safer ones.

Marina Dock Age – VIP Marinas Buys Anclote Village Marina

In September 2019, VIP Marinas expanded its locations to include the Sunshine State with the addition of Anclote Village Marina in Holiday, Florida.

The purchase of the marina also brought VIP Marinas owner Austin Cameron closer to his original goal of owning 10 marinas by the time he is 45 years old. In April 2019, he bought The Cliffs on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. He now owns seven marinas in Texas, one in Oklahoma, and Anclote Village – his first property in Florida.

In 2009, Cameron bought his first marina, VIP Marina on Lake Travis in Texas. He had been in the real estate business, but with the economy on the decline, he began looking for a career and lifestyle change. His mother passed away at age 60 in 2008. “She always told me to do something I loved,” he said. “That really hit home after she died.”

He bought VIP Marina out of bankruptcy, remodeled the apartment above the ship store to live in, and logged more than 100 hours underwater making dock repairs. “I jumped in head-first,” Cameron said. “I lived it and breathed it.”

Cameron grew up on the water, skiing for the first time at age two on Lake Travis. He bought his first lake house at age 20. “All my memories of childhood and as a young adult are on the water,” he said. “My favorite thing is to bring that lifestyle to our customers.”

Those childhood memories help drive his business philosophy to provide top-of-the-line customer service and enhance people’s boating experience. The VIP Marina company vision is to make destination marinas where people can create positive memories that last a lifetime. “We bring that vision to our marinas for the customers and the staff,” Cameron said.

He enjoys seeing families have a good time out on the water. “If people are out having fun, the longer they’ll be there, the longer they’ll keep their boat, and they’ll tell their friends,” Cameron said. “People having fun are spending money.”

Anclote Village Marina

Anclote Village Marina is located on 3.23 acres near the mouth of the Anclote River and features 25 wet slips, 195 dry racks, a fuel dock, a dockside bait shop and a waterfront restaurant.

Cameron credits the popular restaurant, Miss Vicki’s on the River for helping put the marina on the map. The beachside grill is open six days a week with live music every afternoon. “It’s a really cool vibe,” he said.

The Leisure Property Advisors team of Colliers International in Tampa represented Cameron and the seller, St. Joseph’s Sound Investments, LLC.

“This property has the advantages of in-place cash flow and accessibility, both for him (Cameron) coming from Texas and his boaters being able to reach popular destinations like Caledesi Island, Honeymoon Island, and Anclote Key,” said Matt Putnam, managing director of Leisure Property Advisors. “In addition, he felt this location is going to significantly benefit over the next few years from the growth occurring along the State Road 54 corridor in Pasco County.”

During two months of marketing the property, Colliers saw interest from regional marina investors, large national companies, local investors and first-time marina buyers that culminated in 10 offers.

“This kind of heightened interest from investors represents a trend in the market,” said Dan Grovatt, director of Leisure Property Advisors. “Marinas continue to gain significant investor attention, as yields compress in core commercial real estate asset types.”

In addition to being in a growing market, Cameron said he and his wife love the location, and he can’t get enough time in boating, spear fishing and scuba diving.

“It’s a beautiful area,” he said. “I’m excited. It fits my lifestyle, and I enjoy being with the staff and customers.”

Anclote Village is the closest marina to the mouth of the Anclote River. Cameron said it’s a long river, and it’s a 30-minute no-wake ride from some of the other marinas to the Gulf of Mexico. From Anclote Marina, it’s just a two-minute ride to open water. “We have a waiting list of people who want to be closer,” he said.

Cameron has started making repairs to the docks, remodeling the bathrooms, fixing the deferred maintenance, and he plans to expand the ship store. He will also implement a rate increase to bring the rates up to market level. “What the marina needed was a more sophisticated operation,” he said. “We are here to run it exceptionally well.”

The first 18 months after buying a new marina are the hardest for Cameron, while he works to make sure everything comes together to meet the VIP Marinas vision. “After that, once it’s up and running, I sit back and watch it work,” he said.

He relies on his management team and his local general managers and operation managers. “It’s all based on the local team. Setting up the local team is the most important thing,” he said. “I let the managers run it like it’s theirs. They take ownership in the business.”

He sees himself as a servant leader. “My job is to be with my people on the ground and to support them. Then the managers can do their job to help the customers,” Cameron said. He also credits his regional manager Felecia Ongley. “I couldn’t do it without Felecia,” he said. “I’m the idea guy, and she makes it happen.”

Cameron turned 40 this year, so he has bumped up his goal to own 15 marinas by age 45. He plans to buy one or two marinas a year. He wants to see his grandkids working on the docks someday, but knows he has a long way to go since his daughter is just 11 months old. “I want to build a marina empire that will last for decades,” he said.

Hill Country News – Lake Travis Marina adds 71 new boat slips

The NorthShore Marina on he NorthShore Marina on Lake Travis celebrated their ake Travis celebrated their addition of 71 boat slips with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Saturday, June 24.

About 50 people were in at- bout 50 people were in attendance, including the Mayor of Jonestown Charles T. Powell and members of the Lago Vista and Jonestown Chamber of Commerce.

The marina’s growth is indicative of the positive economic trend of high water on Lake Travis and meeting the demand from a waiting list, said Elaine Hughes, executive director of the Lago Vista and Jonestown Chamber of Commerce.

“People want to bring their boats out to Lake Travis, and there’s room for everyone. This is a much better situation,” Hughes said. “This kind of growth shows the confidence in our area.”

With the new addition, the marina upgraded from 197 boat slips to 268, making it one of the largest on Lake Travis.

Austin Cameron, owner of NorthShore and VIP marinas, bought NorthShore Marina in 2016 and has been working to improve it since. “Owning and operating marinas is the best job I could ever ask for,” Cameron said. “It’s ten times the work than I expected when I got in the business. It’s not a part-time job. It’s a full-time job and an active investment that you have to be very careful of every day and pour tons of money back into the facility to keep it fixed and keep it successful. That said, I love every day and the work.”

“Austin is an active boater and marina owner,” he said. “When he came in here, he and his crew has done a lot to improve the marina, and they got the ship store up and running. It’s a deep water marina and it’s our favorite marina. We’ve been on three different marinas before and this is our favorite one.”

Located six miles North of Mansfield Dam and directly across from Emerald Point, the marina address is 6612 Lantern View Dr. in the Hollows subdivision in Jonestown. Northshore is the only deep water marina on Lake Travis, meaning even in times of drought, the marina is able to stay on water without having to move very far from shore. The water at Northshore Marina is 150 to 160 feet deep, so boat slips on Lake Travis is always accessible. The marina also has 80 by 20 foot sized boat slips, the largest on Lake Travis.

In the two weeks since opening the 71 new slips on the marina, 25 percent of them have been leased. Cameron said he anticipates phase two of the expansion to the marina to take place in fall of 2018 at the current rate.

“Things are going great, business is up compared to last year,” Cameron said. “As far as gas sales boat rentals and occupancy, we’re doing better in all categories.”

https://www.hillcountrynews.com/stories/marina-adds-71-new-boat-slips,75695

Hill Country News – New owner takes helm at VIP Marina

After falling on hard times last spring, the VIP Marina on Lake Travis now has a new owner. Austin Cameron bought the marina at a bankruptcy sale in November. He plans to make the marina complex once again live up to its name – VIP.

“I want this to be the best marina in Texas. There’s no reason it can’t be 100 percent full, or very close,” said Cameron, who spent several days at the Austin Boat Show last week, letting the public know that VIP is back.

The marina never actually closed during bankruptcy, but the occupancy rate fell as boat owners became concerned about the company’s financial health.

“Occupancy fell to 72 percent. I want it to be at least 98 percent,” Cameron said.

The marina has a Leander address, although it’s much closer to the village of Volente. In fact, it is next door to the Volente Beach water park.

An avid boater and water skier, Cameron began looking for a marina a year and a half ago. He hoped to buy one in either Texas or Oklahoma, but Lake Travis was his first choice. “I always wanted to own a marina, since I was a kid,” he said. “It’s a fixer-upper, and I plan to bring it back to life.”

What happened to the VIP Marina in Lake Travis is in some ways a microcosm of what happened to the entire U.S. Economy – the owner wound up overloaded with debt and wasn’t able to take care of the facility. It wound up in bankruptcy.

The marina was built in 1996 by Rick Redmond, who sold it to Steve Adams in 2003. He ran into financial trouble and filed bankruptcy in May 2009. “You have to reinvest a lot of your profits in a marina,” Cameron said. “Things start to deteriorate and tenants will start noticing and leave. For some people, their boat is their second-largest asset. They want it to stay fun and safe to visit.”

Cameron is the owner of AC Properties Real Estate Investments in Fort Worth. He is selling his inventory and may move to Austin permanently.

For at least two days a week, Cameron lives in an upstairs apartment above the marina store, along with his girlfriend Casey Whitlock and his dog Cowboy (a Yellow Lab that is actually a rare red color). The couple met in Florida, but Whitlock notes, “You couldn’t pay me to go back to Florida. Texas is so fun and laid-back.”

Because of fluctuations in lake levels, Travis is probably the most difficult lake for a marina business, but at the same time, it offers big rewards. “It has one of the highest slip rental rates in the nation,” Cameron said.

VIP also has a big advantage because it’s located near the river channel. That means it doesn’t have to be moved as far as other cove-based marinas when the lake is low. “We’re probably in the best position of any marina in the lake to slowly scoot up and down.”

VIP has four employees, two full-time and two part-time. In addition, the marina recently hired Volente Beach Manager Bill Gauspohl to perform maintenance work. “I’m really excited,” Gauspohl said about the new owners. “We’ve had a lot of great changes already. Attitude and appearance has increased 10-fold.”

The marina offers a variety of services, said Cameron. “We walk the dock, inspect your boat and retie the cover if needed.”

VIP has a pick-up service for boat owners. When they arrive at the parking lot next to Volente Beach, a golf cart will be sent to pick them up and take them to the dock.

This summer the company will begin renting boats, with six ski boats and six jet skis. VIP will also offer courtesy service for those who want it. Staff will clean the boat and fill the ice chest with beer and ice. “I want people’s water experience to be as enjoyable as possible,” he said.

The purchase has taken Cameron full-circle. His first time to water ski was on Lake Travis, when he was just over 2 years old, living on his parents’ ranch in Marble Falls. He was born in Houston and later moved to Fort Worth.

“It was at the end of summer and gave Mom some big bragging rights,” he said.

“I spent my whole life away from here, but now I’m back.” He still loves to water ski and plans to make time for the sport in the early morning hours this summer.

Cameron also likes to scuba dive, but hasn’t been doing it for fun lately. He recently spent nine hours straight in the 57-degree water of the lake, working on the support cables.

Maintaining a marina is much harder than it looks. The marina and docks must be kept level and straight as the lake level rises and falls. Doing that requires a complicated system of cables and winches. Not doing it can bend metal poles and could even put the marina at risk of tipping over during high winds.

“I had to repair and replace the winch stands and support cables that support the marina,” he said. “There are 78 stands; 24 of them were broken or had no cable – about one-third of the support was missing.” The cables have since been replaced and the marina is stable and structurally sound.

Next Cameron will be repairing roof leaks discovered during the latest rain storm. Cosmetic repairs will follow, with bathrooms remodeled to the level of a high-end restaurant.

“I’m training the employees to have a customer focus,” he said. “If the tenants are taken care of, word of mouth will fill the place up.”

For more information about VIP Marina, visit or call (512) 331-5375.

https://www.hillcountrynews.com/stories/new-owner-takes-helm-at-vip-marina,53737