1903-2017 - 114 years of serving boaters
The Conneaut Lake Navigation Co. has a rich history, being one of the oldest marine establishments in the Northeastern United States. It has survived through stormy seas and smooth sailing for over 100 years thanks to the hard work and determination of its various owners and employees.
Incorporated in 1903, originally the company was simply a group of steamboat operators who banded together in an effort to stabilize their business and make a profit. People from Pittsburgh and Cleveland came to Conneaut Lake by train and then took a steamboat ride to the north end of the lake where Conneaut Lake Park was located. The park was a huge attraction in the early part of the century and The Navigation Company was the provider of transportation around the lake that people relied on.
Gradually, the steamboats disappeared from the lake due to the rise of the automobile and improvements in the roadways. Also, as the years went by, more and more people were buying boats of their own. The company began to transform in 1935 when it became a dealer for Chris Craft, and Paul Scofield, who was then a machinist at Talon Inc., became a part-time mechanic. Nine years later, when the owners had decided to sell the business, Paul and a business partner took over. By 1953 Paul and Beryl Scofield owned the entire company.
By selling a few more Chris Crafts each year, operating the ferryboats, rental boats, and the Miss Conneaut Speedboat Ride, The Navigation Company flourished during the 50's and 60's. The Company operated at two separate locations during that time. Sales and service were handled at the south end of the lake and excursion rides were located at the north end at the park. Joe and Betty DeVoge took over the boat rides at the park in 1955 when Paul's partner had an accident with the Miss Conneaut Speedboat and decided to get out. Winters were spent refinishing the wood boats and building Chris Craft kit boats to sell during the coming season.
With the advent of fiberglass boats and more powerful outboards, the 60's brought many changes. Boating became more accessible to the masses. The Miss Conneaut was no longer the fastest on the lake. The sales and service end of the business became more important. Joe and Betty DeVoge became the owners and the ferry boat business was sold to Lloyd Holland of Conneaut Lake in 1970. In the 60's two sons of Joe & Betty grew up working at the marina and skiing or fishing on the lake whenever time allowed. They are Bud DeVoge and Mike DeVoge and they are the owners today. The third generation has taken the reins and the company is stronger than ever.
Through the 60's, 70's, and 80's The Navigation Company has been associated with such leading brands as Chris Craft, CorrectCraft, MFG Boats, Centurion Boats, Malibu Boats, Crestliner, Harris Flotebote, SeaDoo, Cobalt, Key West, Bryant, Thompson, PennYan, Starcraft, Signa, Chaparral, AMF/Alcort, and Princecraft. The brands may change over the years due to manufacturer's success or failures, but one thing you can count on is Mike & Bud's keen eye for quality and their fingers on the pulse of the boating industry. We believe that quality is a number one concern with all boat buyers and quality is what will sell in the years to come.
The Navigation Company was first to sell pontoon boats at Conneaut Lake. We were the first to sell Tournament Inboard ski boats at Conneaut Lake in the 60's. We were the first to have storage facilities close by, for the convenience and rapid service our customers have come to expect. In 1986 we added lifting capabilities to our storage location just a few blocks from the lake. Water ski/wakeboard clinics and tournaments have been an important part of our promotional activity through the 90's and 00's. Our promo events and our sales events are always documented in our newsletter and our website. These two avenues of communication were started in 1995 and 1996. Today, internet sales are a very important part of the business. During the 90's we became the only business within 100 miles to have Sea Doo rentals. This great attraction endured for 8 years until the State Fish & Boat Commission regulations made it impossible to continue.
Since the turn of the century, we have secured even more storage for our customers. Our storage location on Stoney Point Rd. is assurance that we will always have room for your boat in the wintertime. We have added 70,000 square feet indoors on a 14 acre parcel since 2000.
New Franchises recently added to our lineup include, Malibu Boats (2006), and Centurion Boats (2006). It was an honor that was unexpected when Malibu asked us to join them in marketing their progressive line of ski & wakeboard boats. We hope our hard work and dedication to our customers will win you over someday. Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure.