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‘It’s time to retire’

June 5, 2012

John Monette sells John’s Marine Service

John Monette admits that running a boat business all these years is something of a departure for an old farm kid.
Monette, on the cusp of his 76th birthday, recently sold his long-running John’s Marine Service to Ray Clark and Clark’s All-Sports earlier this year.
It was a good move for both Colville businessmen. Clark, who has renamed the business Clark’s Marine & Motor Sports, plans to expand on the company’s marine division and Monette says it’s time to retire.
‘The move made sense,” Clark said last week as he talked about his considerable respect for John Monette and the purchase of John’s Marine Service. “We have been in partnership with John for 15 years with Hewescraft boats and Yamaha motors. We have worked together on that for years. That’s why this transition was so natural.”
Monette still works the shop on DeGrief Road during the transition period.
“I still like hanging around,” Monette says with a wry grin.
“And we like having him here,” Clark says. “His knowledge is amazing and invaluable.”
It’s been quite an interesting ride for Monette, who got into the marine business back in 1965 when he, his brother and father bought Buchanan’s Marina on the north end of Colville.
That business, called Monette Brothers, ran for several years. The business, which also sold farm equipment, was sold to Al Avey (Avey’s RV). Monette worked for that business, which featured a marine end and work on RV’s and campers.
“But Al got tired of it,” Monette recalls. “I don’t think he was making any money.”
Avey sold out to Lynn Motors and Monette continued as he had with Avey—working for his new employer.

Back on his own

“They had a marine side and sold farm equipment, cars and trucks,” John says, adding that in 1984, the business closed and he decided that was enough of working for someone else.
“I got into my own business again,” he said.
John’s Marine Service was established at its original location on the north highway.
“Somewhere along the line, I bought this piece of land (across the highway from the Colville Airport) the current building is on…I moved up here about 15 years ago.”
John admits that he can’t remember too many days off over the years. How could he do that? There was always plenty of work to do.
“I think I’ll take an occasional day off now,” John says. “But it’s time to quit…but I still get to stay around. Part of the deal is to stay and help until the boys get comfortable running this without me around.”
John grew up on a farm before a four-year stint in the U.S. Coast Guard piqued his interest in the marine side of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Two of those years were spent stationed at Westport.
“I was an electronic’s technician,” Monette says. “I never saw any sea duty.”
Coastie or no Coastie, John says he never really thought he would wind up working on boats for a living.
Yes, irony came full circle.
“I had kind of thought about going back to the farm,” he says. “I never thought about the marine work.”

Has enjoyed the work over the years

John says he has enjoyed working on boats, although well into his 70s, climbing around in them anymore is problematic.
“I still do some work there,” John says. “But it’s tough climbing around in them.”
A heart attack about a year ago has slowed John some, but not all that much.
“I’ve enjoyed the people…most of them anyway,” he says. “And I’ve enjoyed work—probably too much.”
John just smiles when he thinks of the marked changes in technology over the years—and all those boats.
“These big boats are just so sophisticated nowadays…the equipment is sophisticated, just like cars.
And the fuel prices…just like cars.
“Things have changed,” John says ruefully. “A lot of people who own boats nowadays tend to do more drifting (on Lake Roosevelt). A lot of big boats have 120-gallon gas tanks. Times that by four and that’s a bunch of money.”
“When I started out, I didn’t know what a computer meant…now the diagnostics we have are pretty amazing.”
It hasn’t just been about boats. John started selling snowmobiles in 1969. ATV’s came along around 1997.
“I have always liked mechanical things since I used to work on our farm equipment,” John says. “There has always been that mechanical inclination.”

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