If they didn’t own the company, Leon and Paul Savage would’ve racked up four lots of Long Service Leave at Melbourne-based fibreglass boat builders and retailers Streaker Boats. An amazing effort when you think about it … Y-Gens take note!
Streaker is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, with the brothers having successfully turned their passion for boating into an enduring marine success story.
Along the way they have survived all kinds of market upheavals, where so many others have stumbled. To call them a dying breed is a misnomer but certainly they’re a rarity.
Leon completed his boatbuilding apprenticeship in 1973 and founded L&P Savage Brothers Marine with Paul. As keen circuit and offshore powerboat racers they travelled the country, winning numerous state titles in the process.
Business soon started to demand more time: ‘Our first model was the V14 Streaker and was soon followed by the V17 Streaker,’ Leon recalls. ‘We had a dealer network and couldn’t keep up with demand.
‘As we got a bit older and wiser, we realised the market was trending towards fishing so we swung all of our resources into developing a complete range of Streaker fishing boats.’
Cuddys, runabouts and cruisers followed, in sizes ranging from 4.58 to 5.85 metres. Australian Boat of the Year honours flowed in 1991 and 2000, although generally the Streaker brand flew under the radar outside Victoria.
Over the years the business has been diversified. The SR1600 ski boat was released in both inboard and outboard configurations and at one stage Streaker also built Jenkscraft Boats, Scout Runabouts, Custom boats and 7m Cruisers. The largest boat built by Streaker was a 12-metre flybridge cruiser.
There was also a separate area for Porsche Fibreglass Repairs, Savage outdoor furniture and fibreglass engine components for Group A Commodores.
Both Leon and Paul’s wives work in the business and their children are also involved – Leon’s son Troy is in charge of new model development, Paul’s son Sean is involved in Sales, and Paul’s other son Paul Jnr is in charge of the Service Department.
The Savages have become prominent identities – Leon has served on the Board of the Boating Industry Association – and they have scooped countless awards as Yamaha, Quintrex and Lowrance retailers.
A key to their longevity was controlling their own destiny – that meant winding down their dealer network in 1990, selling Streaker boats direct, then finally taking on more retail lines.
‘The highlight of our 40 years has been the opening of our retail showroom in 1999,’ Paul Savage said. ‘We never set out to be the biggest dealer in town, but we have continually strived to deliver the best customer service in the industry.
‘We've borrowed a lot from the automotive industry and we believe that our customers are treated very fairly and with great respect.’
In 2010 the entire Streaker range was re-launched with new model designations. The difficult economic times had spurred the Savages to produce a better product.
‘We have continually updated, upgraded and worked better to provide our Streaker customers with the boats that they demand,’ Paul explained.
To quote Monty Python, I think there's a lesson there for all of us …