Saturday, October 21st, 2017

S Shopper Stories


TROY MARINE

Top-notch technician and lifelong marine enthusiast

by Candance Moore


Troy Shields with Leila, who has been coming to work with him every day for the last 12 years

Troy Shields with Leila, who has been coming to work with him every day for the last 12 years

It’s difficult to imagine anyone who knows more about boats than Troy Shields. From a professional standpoint, he’s a skilled technician who can service, accessorize, or completely refurbish just about every kind of boat on the water. From a personal standpoint, he’s a lifelong marine enthusiast who knew the ropes before he could drive.

His local family business, Troy Marine, is a true blend of both sides, using technical excellence to share and promote the marine lifestyle.

“I always wanted to work at what I enjoyed, and that was boating,” Troy says. “I figured that if I focused on having fun and treating people well, the money would follow. It’s given me a great career.”

That career path has been part of Troy’s family for generations. Some of his relatives were fishermen in the famed Chesapeake Bay seafood industry. Others worked in shipyards to build and repair vessels. Weekend outings on the water were as natural as breathing, and most summers brought long-term trips across the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic ocean.

Troy’s mother, Kay, recalls bringing him along when he was only a few months old. He grew up in Norfolk with friends who shared the passion, taking off to the waterfront at every break from school. By his teen years, Troy was dabbling in marine work.


“All a person needs to do
is think about where they’d like to go,
what they’d like to do,
and who they’d like to bring along.
Once they have that figured out,
there’s a boat to fit them perfectly.”

—Troy Shields



After high school graduation, when many of his peers explored potential careers in college, Troy had already decided on his future, driving to Elizabeth City for full-time work as a rigger. He embraced the hard labor of starting at the bottom while he proved himself and learned every facet of the business.

One day, when a 20-something-year-old Troy was working on a boat, a chance conversation with a customer shaped his destiny. They’d been chatting about the fun of being out on the water. Troy began to offer a few expert tips, and then, before long, he’d toured the boat to suggest upgrades.

The customer made a large purchase of accessories based on Troy’s ideas. His employer, Shoreflyte Marine, realized that Troy was too talented to remain a rigger.

“Tony, the owner, told me I was not long for my position there. At first I thought I was in trouble or something,” Troy describes with a chuckle.

That turning point began his ascent through the industry. He later went from repairing boats to building them, and from there he moved into sales. By the 1990s, he was involved in research and development on the Honda 90 Four Stroke, reaching the top of civilian marine technology.

Troy and Larry Graf, designer and builder of the Glacier Bay catamaran from Washington state, made news in 1996 when they were the first to take an outboard-powered catamaran to Bermuda. They won the Bermuda Challenge and set a record of 37 hours, which stood for many years. Troy continued to work with conventional boats, but catamarans captured his interest.

It was around that time when Yamaha made its aggressive move into the four stroke outboard market. Troy was among the prestigious dealers they recruited to develop a more competitive product. He was a strongly influential voice in Yamaha’s pursuit of four-stroke outboard motors, which have proven to be the future of marine equipment.

Yamaha impressed Troy with innovation and quality.  He was ready to open his own business, and Yamaha wanted a dealer in the area with strong local roots.

In October 1998, Troy Marine began in a renovated garage in Suffolk. It remains the smallest full-line Yamaha dealer in North America. Kay, an accountant by trade, came along to help run the business office. As work picked up, Troy hired a technician, and then another, to service nearly any make or model.

An innovation he introduced was mobile boat service, enabling technicians to repair or replace parts while the boat remained in dock, at little extra cost – just some travel compensation. As Troy developed creative new ways to help his customers, they spread referrals. Word of mouth is now his biggest source of business.

Meanwhile, he remained involved in his local church, signing up for charity projects as time permitted, and he took a special liking to homeless animals. His house has since taken in multiple cats and dogs. In fact, his 12 year old dog, Leila, has been coming to work with him every day since she was a puppy.

Eminent domain took that property for highway expansion as Suffolk began its urban build-up. Undaunted, Troy moved to broader spaces in nearby Carrollton, where he built a large workshop to accommodate boats up to 40 feet.

“We have a spacious facility and technical expertise,” he notes. “We can find a boat for sale even from a distance, bring it to our shop, perform a complete makeover, and offer a boat that’s practically brand new for much lower cost.”

For customers who already own a boat, Troy’s team offers factory-certified service. He’s even a Yamaha Key Dealer, which means he has special access to motors, and his customer satisfaction ratings are 100 percent.

These days, he has international clients, often traveling as far as Guatemala to service a fleet of charter boats. He regularly attends shows across the east coast to check out new products. Yet he’s most at home in his Carrollton office, where he still enjoys helping local families discover the fun of water sports.

“I like Yamaha’s philosophy;  they believe in the lifestyle of being on the water,” Troy says. “Taking the kids out to jet ski, taking a father for some fishing, using a day on the water to bring therapeutic calm when someone is sick. All of this equipment exists to make those moments possible. As the dealer, I get to meet those families who benefit from it.”

That search for a perfect getaway experience has driven his business for the past 19 years. At a recent boat show, he encountered stunning advancements in hydrofoil technology for catamarans, which result in the smoothest ride over water yet. Troy wasted no time in becoming a Hysucat dealer to bring this innovation to Hampton Roads.


“Boating has become cleaner, safer,
more fuel efficient, and easier
for the average person to get into.”

—Troy Shields



“Boating has become cleaner, safer, more fuel efficient, and easier for the average person to get into,” Troy explains. “All a person needs to do is think about where they’d like to go, what they’d like to do, and who they’d like to bring along. Once they have that figured out, there’s a boat to fit them perfectly – and I can certainly help them to take care of that investment.”





Troy Marine

15727 Carrollton Blvd.
Carrollton, VA 23314

757-238-8747
www.troymarine.com