Maple Leaf Marinas, a recently formed group of investors, has purchased a group of five Ontario marinas on the Great Lakes. They include Bay Port Yachting Centre, Wye Heritage Marina, Beacon Bay Marina, Bay Moorings Marina and Bridge Port Marina.

“They were sold as a package to a group who formed a limited partnership,” Ken McDonald, Maple Leaf Marinas president, told IBI, declining to reveal the financial terms. The five marinas have a total of 2,200 slips, along with other service facilities.

McDonald, who has 35 years' experience as a marina operator, had been involved with several of the marinas before. He worked with Wye Heritage Marina in the early 1990s to help build its slip numbers and develop the infrastructure. After that marina was sold to a land development company, McDonald started Bridge Port Marina. That was sold to a publicly traded company called Parkbridge.

“They liked the marina business because it fit in with their portfolio,” says McDonald. “They asked me to go out and buy more marinas, so we ended up with five.” Parkbridge was eventually sold to a pension fund that decided to get out of the marina business. The group of investors then formed Maple Leaf to acquire these marinas.

“The occupancy rates over the last few years have slipped,” says McDonald. “My goal is to bring them back to about 90% levels which is what they were before the recession.” He says that the previous owner had a blanket marketing strategy that encompassed all five marinas. “The model going forward will be to have each marina market individually,” he says. “They will stand on their own when it comes to marketing.”

McDonald says that Maple Leaf has an “appetite” for further acquisitions. “But five will be enough for this year,” he adds.