In the spring of 1968, Donald Bell with the support of his wife Eileen and seven kids, decided to go into business as a family. Don and Eileen negotiated an agreement with Simplicity Manufacturing Company from Port Washington and shortly thereafter they received their first shipment of lawn and garden equipment. Don’s Dad, Fred Bell, bought the first lawn tractor from the business. Don and Eileen knew with that support from Dad they were headed down the right path.
In the fall of 1968, they decided to expand their business and purchased two Snow Jet snowmobiles. They worked out of what is now their recreational room at home. During the entire first year of business Donald continued to work at a sand and gravel pit, while Eileen raised all seven children. So on February 14, 1969, after a year of being in business, Don and Eileen decided to pursue their business full-time. In late February of 1969 Don and Eileen incorporated the business and signed a lease to rent a building on Hwy 33, our current location. A franchise agreement was signed with Arctic Cat Snowmobiles and Chrysler Boats and Motors from Hartford, Wisconsin.
Their business began to grow year after year, so in 1972 they doubled the size of the building. With this improvement they sold 350 Arctic Cat snowmobiles in 1972 alone. In 1974, Don and Eileen signed on the Lowe Boat franchise and now had two boat lines to sell.
With business continuing to grow, 1975 meant “acquire as many franchises as you can in one year.” So Cedar Lake Sales added Johnson outboard motors, Forester Boats, Mirrocraft Fishing Boats, Kayot Pontoon Boats and Puma pop up campers. In 1977, the Sylvan Boat franchise signed on the the 1978 model year.
In 1979, Cedar Lake Sales discontinued the Chrysler Franchise. The energy crisis was in full swing, so Don and Eileen carried Buck Stoves, Triton add-on Stoves and Royal add-on Stoves. With 1980 came a good year in the wood stove business. Cedar Lake Sales saw over 350 wood stoves move out of it’s showroom. In 1982 Don started a bait shop within Cedar Lake Sales, as well as signing on the Mariner Marine franchise from Fond Du Lac, WI.
As business continued to grow, Cedar Lake Sales participated in their first Milwaukee Sports Show in 1984, and have gone every year since to display the new boats and motors. In 1986 Starcraft Marine was signed on and was an integral part of the business. In 1988 Sea Nymph was signed on for the 1989 model year. With the addition of the past few years, Cedar Lake Sales built a new warehouse and new office spaces. At this time they also brought on the help of two of their sons, Brian and Alan.
In 1990, Seaswirl Boat franchise was signed on. The continuing growth demanded more space, so in 1991 an additional warehouse was built. With the growth of Cedar Lake Sales and the boating industry, an overhead crane was constructed to help unload boats coming in. With the business heading in the direction of the marine industry, 1992 brought changes. Don and Eileen decided to sell the Simplicity Contract.
As the 90’s progressed Cedar Lake Sales continued to grow. By 1997, they contracted a company to expand retail and mechanical operations. This move doubled Cedar Lake Sales operating size. Crestliner Boats was signed on in 1997 for the 1998 model year as well as Manitou pontoons. With a new millennium on the horizon, business was booming.
The year 2000 brought perspective on how far Cedar Lake Sales had come. Employment in 1969 was 3 employees, which has grown to over 16 employees in 2013. Since 1968, Cedar Lake Sales has merchandised many smaller franchises. They include; Grumman Boats, Aqua Patio, Truck Caps, Indian Motor Cycles, Arctic Cat Mini Bikes and Didier Wood Splitters.
Today we carry Crestliner All Welded Aluminum Boats, Manitou Pontoon Boats, Cypress Cay Pontoons, Yar-Craft and Basscat Boats all powered by Mercury outboard engines. Even today Donald and Eileen Bell continue to be a vital role in the business. In December of 2012, Sons; Brian and Alan purchased the business from Don and Eileen. Alan’s son’s Christopher and Perry continue the legacy of the family ownership as 3rd generation family members working at Cedar Lake Sales. Salesmen Rich Theim and Bob Dobratz can offer you professional help in sales and Adam, Perry and Cal, in our Service and Parts department, will assist you with any of your service and parts requests. We tip our hats to all of our employees for they are truly valuable in every way, some who have been with us for over 25 years. We are proud to say we have been in business for 50 years and continue to help our community with their boating and marine needs. Thank you!