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Boat haulier marks 35 years in business

Still going strong: boat hauliers Mark Selley, right, and sons Mark and David, celebrate 35 years of Selley's boat trailer and marine services (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An island boat transportation firm is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

And Mark Selley, founder of Selley’s Boat Trailer and Marine Services, said he never expected to be still in business after buying an existing business in 1981.

Mr Selley, who built a career in the hospitality industry, said he at first thought he could combine the two roles when he took over the company on Guy Fawkes Day.

He said: “We started with a bang on Guy Fawkes and we’re still going.”

He added that his twin sons, Mark and David, 26, had come on board and Selley’s could now offer boat servicing as well as haulage.

Mr Selley, 64, said: “They’re certified marine technicians and we all work as a team — the business has taken on new energy when some businesses are failing.

“We’ve always been a boat trailering service, but with my sons, that’s another addition to the product. We service our customers’ boats as well.”

The former two-time Commodore of the Power Boat Association and ex-chairman of the Water Safety Council, who raced boats for 17 years, added salt water ran in the veins of his entire family.

He said: “My sons have been involved with the trailer business since they were seven years old and they’re now involved more than ever.”

But Mr Selley said: “I towed my own race boats, which is not the same as towing someone else’s pride and joy. It’s a business I picked up on my own and I didn’t think I would be doing it for this long.

“It was something I thought I could do in my spare time.”

Mr Selley added the Paget-based business was dealt a blow when he suffered a stroke in 1991 which left him partially paralysed and doctors in the US warned that he may spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

But he battled his way back to health again and carried on with the business.

Mr Selley said: “They said I’d never move again — I’m still moving.”

Mr Selley added the recession had hit the business, with the number of boats trailered down from a peak of 600 to around 150.

But he said: “Things are improving. This has been the best year in the last five, maybe the best in the last ten.

“There’s been a gradual increase and the importation of boats has increased, so there are more boats to be moved.”

And he added that Tropical Storm Karl and Hurricane Nicole and had seen a spate of owners who wanted their boats out of the water as a precaution.

Mr Selley said: “It’s definitely still a viable business and there are signs it’s getting better.”