Walstrom Marine Celebrates 70 Years


Walstrom Marine got its start in Harbor Springs, MIchigan in 1946, when Ward and Roma Walstrom and Paul Griffeth bought a 43-year-old boat yard from Henry Melching. There were 18 covered slips and storage for 100 boats. One of the early stockholders was Charles Hollerith, son of one of IBM’s founders, Herman Hollerith. The Chris-Craft franchise went with the yard, which proved to be a valuable asset for many years. Another asset was an elevator lift that Melching built in 1938. Capable of hauling around 50 tons, it was one of the largest lifts in Northern Michigan.

In 1960, Walstrom Marine expanded to a second site east of town, developing a yacht basin for 100 slips, storage, service and haul out. Walstrom also built heated storage buildings to keep customer’s yachts cozy all year and to provide an environment for employees to work year-round.

In 1971, Walstrom Marine became a dealer for Hatteras Yachts. Ten years later, Walstrom added Tiara and Pursuit, noted for building high quality, open style yachts. In 1983, Fred Walstrom and Ward Walstrom, Jr. purchased the company from their parents.

In 1987, addressing the need to haul and service larger yachts, Walstrom expanded to Cheboygan, Michigan. An 18,000-square-foot heated building, haulout slip with a 70-ton lift, and 40 deep-water slips were constructed on the Cheboygan River, with direct access to Lake Huron.

In 1995, the original downtown building was torn down, and the new store and office building were completed in time for the 50th anniversary celebration. The exquisite cherry paneled store “Propellers” has become a popular stop for the latest in yacht clothing and accessories.

In 2009, Walstrom Marine converted its downtown building and 65 slips to a deposit membership club called The Boathouse of Harbor Springs. The following year, the Roe Building was rebuilt with new offices on two floors, large glass doors and skylight, and an indoor, heated showroom. On May 3, 2011, Walstrom Marine Sales moved to its new location at 500 Bay Street.

Service has been the key to Walstrom becoming one of the oldest, most reputable marinas on the Great Lakes. Employees have become an integral part in the management of the company. The employees are experienced people building sound business
relationships with customers, and caring people responsive to the needs of one another and the community. 

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