Family focus

Liliana Engelhardt | VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1
Front row: the Savage family (from L to R) Paul snr, Paul jnr, Donna, Jan, Leon, and Sean (Troy was absent on the day). Back row: Streaker Boats staffers Chris, Wayne, Andy, and Glen. Bob Carter
Now in its 40th year, this family boat-building business is going from strength to strength.

Why ‘Streaker’? Leon Savage chuckles and tells the story of a pool party and Uncle Neil Savage, a well-known artist and “the most eccentric man on earth” who stripped, ran to the pool starkers and jumped in, landing on his back and leaving quite an impression on the other guests. That’s how brothers Leon and Paul Savage found the name for their budding new boat brand: Streaker.

What began as an idea in 12-year-old Leon’s mind blossomed into reality when, in 1973, the brothers established their L & P Savage Brothers Marine Pty Ltd and with it their marque, Streaker Boats.

Initially selling via a network of dealers, the Savage brothers made the switch to selling directly to the public in 1993 by founding their retail outlet, Leon and Paul Savage’s Streaker Boats.

“We started out as a manufacturing business and had dealers selling all over Australia,” says Leon. “We changed to selling the boats ourselves because we wanted to be in charge of our own destiny, and also because we wanted to personally set up the boats for our customers.”

Possibly the first BMT (Boat/Motor/Trailer) package sellers in Australia, Leon says Streaker Boats wouldn’t sell just the boat: “We sold the whole package with the outboard and the trailer, all set up with the right accessories and all that. It had to be spot on.

“It was unique in those days to offer the whole package. The market responded well; the people buying the boats were rapt. It was the best thing we ever did.

“At that time, there were a lot of dealers putting boat packages together. You can’t go out and buy a car without an engine in it and without wheels, but here manufacturers were selling boats without outboards, without propellers and without trailers. At those times, that’s what it was like. So we said we’ve got a great product, but we want to fit the right equipment to it ourselves.”

The showroom, located in the outer-east Melbourne suburb of Bayswater, was built in 1999 and marked another milestone: “We were down the road where our manufacturing still is, and needed more space to show the boats,” recalls Leon. “We based the showroom idea on a BMW dealership, where everything was under a roof with air-conditioning and good lighting. At the time, boats were being shown outdoors and they got dirty in the wind and the rain. We built a showroom so our boats were out of the dust and leaves, and our customers could be here in comfort, even on a cold wet day.”

Streaker Boats is a proudly family-owned-and-run business, with Paul’s wife, Jan, and Leon’s wife, Donna, running the administrative side of the business, while Paul’s son, Paul (junior), runs the service department and his other son, Sean, is in sales. Troy, a boat builder, designs the Streaker range with his dad, Leon.

With much emphasis on offering the best possible service, the Streaker team puts the customer first: “We offer full service and the full package from when someone first walks into the showroom, to putting their new boat on the water and showing exactly how everything works, right through to all repairs and service,” clarifies Leon. Having all departments close by is part of that approach: “All our manufacturing is just up the road, our 12-bay service shop is round the other corner, and the showroom is here.”

“Our philosophy on life is: it’s short, you’ve got to enjoy yourself. It’s a balance in life. Some people are just married to their business – we’re dedicated and we love our business, but you’ve got to find that balance,” says Leon, clearly happy about where they’re all at today.

In an industry that’s taken a bit of a beating in the past few years, the Streaker team has stayed calm and continued to do what it has always done: build boats. Training the next generation of skilled craftsmen is a further priority for the Savage brothers, which is why they offer two or three apprenticeships in the factory and two in the service department.

“In the last 12 months, we haven’t put off one person … the service hasn’t got any smaller, we haven’t got smaller. But the one thing that doesn’t happen is you don’t grow and you’ve got to try harder.

“The Raptor was a project we took on when things were quiet a few years ago, to keep the guys busy in the factory,” says Leon. “The moulds are supplied by Mercury, but we re-developed them and the decks and built the whole thing down the road. Raptor comes with a Mercury 200hp jet engine … that’s fun,” he adds.

This year marks the 40th year the Savage brothers have been in business and along the way they have garnered a formidable collection of awards. In ’91, the BIA awarded Australian Boat of the Year to Streaker’s 5.85 Sports Fisherman. In 2000, the Streaker 5.85 Tournament took home AMIF Boat of the Year. In 1994 Streaker was awarded its first Yamaha National Outboard Dealer award; they’ve since scored this one many times over and in 1996 the company was named the number-one Yamaha Saltwater Series (115hp to 225hp) seller in Australia. The long-standing relationship with Yamaha was rewarded with Yamaha Platinum status in 2003. Then, in 2008, the business was awarded Retailer of the Year by the BIA, and again in 2009. It also took home the Quintrex 2011 National DOTY (Dealer of the Year) award.

Streaker Boats builds boats for cruising, family fun, and fishing. To complement the range, the business also offers Quintrex aluminium boats, Tigé ski/wake/surf boats, and Lewis ski boats. And they also boast Platinum Dealer status with Club Marine.

Contact: Leon & Paul Savage’s Streaker Boats. 461 Mountain Highway, Bayswater, Victoria. Phone: (03) 9729 8288. Web: www.streakerboats.com.au.


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