SkipperBud's expanding despite tough economy
Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, one Antioch business is proceeding with an expansion.
Earthmoving equipment is on site and work has begun on a sales/storage facility at SkipperBud's marina on Route 173 in Antioch.
Village officials last week approved the site plan for a 16,000-square-foot multiuse building on the property -- the fourth structure built since SkipperBud's acquired the 211-slip marina on Sequoit Harbor in 2016.
"We need more room to display (boats) during the spring and summer -- the buying months," said Mark Ellerbrock, company vice president. "We feel good long term about boating and the economy so we're continuing with our plan."
With the introduction May 29 of Phase 3 of Restore Illinois, boating in groups of 10 or fewer with social distancing is permitted.
That, accompanied by the recent reopening of the Chain 'O Lakes to full boating and the arrival of summer weather, should ramp up activity, Ellerbrock said.
While the showrooms were closed until May 29, interest in boat sales also has grown as it is an allowed outdoor activity in the COVID-19 era, according to Ellerbrock.
"Boating allows the family to get together and social distance at the same time," he said.
SkipperBud's headquartered in Winthrop Harbor is a family-owned business founded in 1959. It has locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, and is one of the largest operators on the Chain.
The expansion serves as confirmation that even in these challenging times, "the recreational opportunities and natural beauty of Antioch will continue to attract new business development," said Michael Garrigan, the village's community development director.
The Sequoit Harbor marina on the northern tip of Lake Marie was acquired to provide access to the water, Ellerbrock said.
"We built three new storage buildings. This will be Phase 2, a sales warehouse," he added. The work is expected to be completed in October.
The acquisition also included land west of the showroom that subsequently was annexed and rezoned for commercial use as a speculative venture. The remaining 2.5 acres at North 1st Avenue and Route 173 is available, he added.
Meanwhile, an economic development task force formed by the village is working on a recovery plan for small businesses affected by the pandemic, Garrigan said.
"I'm not sure what the plan will entail but the village board is committed to assisting the small business community in some way," he said.
The village also is proceeding with a marketing program called "Antioch, We're Open" to promote small business.