Larry Ricks said he can remember sitting on the front steps of his granddaddy’s house on S.C. 544 and betting how many cars would pass by in that next hour on a typical Sunday afternoon. This granddaddy was Mr. J. Watson Smith, a local farmer and developer in Socastee. Tobacco and produce were the crops grown on this farm.

“Sometimes there may be up to five passing cars in an hour,” Ricks laughed.

Today, sometimes thousands go by in an hour. Close to where that house sat is now Coastal Marine, a business Ricks and his son Stuart own. It is one of the larger boat dealers in the area.

Ricks and a cousin started the business back in 1972 at a location just across from the former Pirateland Amusement Park just south of Myrtle Beach. The business moved to Murrells Inlet for a while before relocating to its current location on S.C. 544 in Socastee.

“I got out of the business for a while, then my son and I purchased the business back in 2005,” Ricks said. “This location has become very successful and we’re very proud of it.”

Ricks said that despite the country’s economic woes, the boat business has been booming. He said buyers come in all ages and from all walks of life.

“It’s a seller’s market,” Ricks said. “Like in every other business the supply chain makes it tough to get materials to build the new boats."

He attributes the longevity of Coastal Marine to being family-owned, having dependable service, and trust that the customers have in their purchases and their service afterwards. 

Coastal Marine has a full line of family boats and fishing boats of all shapes and sizes. The popular brands include names like G3, Hurricane, Godfrey and Sea Pro. 

“People like buying here because our salesmen aren’t pushy and they’re very knowledgeable about boats, fishing and anything else,” Ricks said. 

Other major parts of the business, in addition to sales, are accessories and service. 

“We have a Yamaha Master tech and a Mercury Master tech on staff here,” Ricks said. “There are very few of those in the area.” 

The family-owned business is a viable component of the local economy, employing 15 folks. 

Ricks said his favorite part of the business that he’s grown to love over the last five decades is very simple, “the people…the ones we’ve met over the years and the people who work for us.” 

Over the next several weeks, we’ll give you an up-close meeting of some of the people who make up the Coastal Marine family. 


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