By Patrick Yeagle
When Bob Gordon moved to Springfield in 1979, he realized there was something missing on Lake Springfield: a public marina. Gordon would later open Lake Springfield Marina in 1991, and now he’s turning over the helm to the next generation.
Scott Tucker and Joe Prola have purchased the business after working as managers at the marina for years.
“They’re quality, capable guys,” Gordon said. “They’re both like kids to me.”
Gordon, who owns financial advising firm Robert Gordon & Associates Inc., says the marina was a labor of love. Before he opened, he says, boaters were carrying gasoline in their trunks and spilling it on the water when refueling. At the time, there were no public bathrooms on the lake and no one to fix boats that broke down away from shore. The marina originally opened at the old Knights of Columbus Lodge near Lindsay Bridge and moved to its current location at 17 Waters Edge Boulevard in 1999.
“It’s the most fun, frustrating thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’ve been out there every weekend for the past 25 years. I had fun building it, and the city had a need.”
Lake Springfield Marina offers boat sales, service, rentals, storage and ramp access. It also hosts the popular Rock the Dock summer event, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Gordon says Tucker and Prola started working for him when they were in high school, cleaning goose droppings off of the docks. They’ve worked hard over the years, Gordon says, adding that he feels comfortable leaving the business in their hands.
“They pretty much gave up their lives to do this,” he said.
Joe Prola says he enjoys his time at the marina because of the joy it brings others.
“Part of the reason I like it is kind of cliché, but I get to see people when they’re having some of the most fun they’ve had,” Prola said. “This is their chance to get away and enjoy themselves.”
He says he and Tucker have been running the day-to-day operations of the marina for the past couple of seasons, and their purchase of the business has been in the works for a while. They have no big plans to change things for now, he adds.
“We’re just going to try and keep it business as usual,” he said.
Although Gordon is handing over the reins, he intends to continue hanging out at the marina.
“It’s hard to step away,” he said. “I’ll still be out there helping the guys, although I don’t know if they need me.”
Contact Patrick Yeagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.