Thwaites Marine, established in Coffs Harbour in 2015, is a family owned marine business. The staff are experienced marine technicians, mechanics and engineers, who pride themselves on a passion for boating. Since late 2018, they’ve also sold new Stacer boats and Evinrude outboard engines. FOCUS sat down with Ben Thwaites and his partner, Laura S. Peregrin, to find out more…
Ben, how did you first get involved with boating – and is this a personal passion of yours?
I first got into boating when I was three years old. I would run up and down the beach towing a plastic toy boat, watching the way the hull would cut through the water and how the wash would change shape when I added weigh. Those were my early marine engineering days. Each year, toy boats got bigger, or became radio-controlled. Then I bought my first kayak, then a dingy with an outboard, then a sail yacht …
My family has always been into fishing and diving, so I spent a lot of time on boats when I was growing up. I became a marine mechanic and by the age of 20, I was working as a marine engineer on super yachts around the world.
Tell us about Thwaites Marine. When did the business open? What type of work do you do?
After working in several marine businesses, four years ago I opened my own. We started doing just marine engineering and mechanical repairs on boats with inboard engines, such as marine rescue boats, fisheries’ boats, sail yachts, charter boats … But after some time with customers asking us to work on their tinnies, we decided to take on smaller engines too. Last year we took on two more dealerships: Stacer and Evinrude. Today we can install, service and repair outboards and inboards in any recreational and commercial vessel, from small tinnies to big super yachts.
When did Laura come into the business? What is her role, and how has she helped the business?
Being a diver and a marine scientist, Laura has also spent most of her adult life on boats. When we first met, she also started sailing with me. We share a big passion for the ocean. A couple of years ago, she told me, “Ben, you need a website”. I didn’t have the money or the time for that. “Not a problem; I will build it,” she said. And that’s how she started at Thwaites Marine. Two years later, she takes care of our marketing, online sales, boat sales and financing and plays a key role helping me manage the growing business. We make a great team.
You moved earlier this year – where are you situated?
We moved from a small workshop to big premises with a store front on 30 Industrial Dr, Coffs Harbour. Now we have enough space for both marine service and for boat and outboard sales. We currently have a dozen of the new Stacer boats on the floor. We have also taken on two more staff members this year, whom I am personally training to keep up our high standards. It has been a massive change, but for the best.
Tell us more about the products and services you offer.
We are now proud dealers for Stacer alloy boats and trailers, and Evinrude outboards.
We have affordable boat, engine and trailer packages in stock. However, customers can also choose to custom-build their boat. We provide mechanical service and installation for outboards and inboards. We are dealers for Volvo-Penta, Yanmar and John Deere Marine, and agents for many boating accessories brands. Last but not least, we have just become the Australian importers for Batela, a nautical-inspired clothing brand from Europe. You should check out the new playful, 100% waterproof raincoats on www.thwaitesmarine.com.au/batela.
What makes Thwaites Marine a strong business?
We care about our work quality and take pride in what we do. All of our staff are passionate about boating or sailing, which help us relate to the issues our customers face. We always aim for a five-star quality service, no matter what your boating needs are. Furthermore, we back our products: we would not sell something we are not convinced about. For example, with Stacer and Evinrude: we are very impressed with these Australian made, high quality boats and engines. They are easy to sell, because we love and trust the brands.
Tell us about the experience of your staff and how they can help someone looking at buying a new boat?
In the boat sales area, we have Mitch Young, a Master 5 instructor and very experienced fisherman. He has been running fishing charters recreationally and commercially for decades, and he also has vast sailing experience.
In the engine sales, there’s me. Because of my marine engineering and mechanical background, I have a good understanding of this “more technical” side of boating. Our customers know we have their back when it comes to any issues with their engine.
Laura is great with boat sales and assisting with very competitive finance options. She always gives you the best possible deal.
Tell us about your demo days …
We often carry out demo days at different locations in the area; for example, at the Coffs Harbour Boat Ramp, or on the river in Mylestom. We basically bring a brand new Stacer boat, and let you take it for a run. This really helps people decide on what type of set-up they need.
We are currently demoing a Stacer 499 Crossfire with a 90 HO outboard: the perfect fishing boat. We also have a Stacer 589 Wildrider with an Evinrude G2 150 HO: the perfect all-rounder. Both are amazing boats.
How can people find you, your promotions and information on your demo days?
On our website: www.thwaitesmarine.com.au or on our Facebook or Instagram pages. They can also call us or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in touch with them ASAP.