Robbie Ferron, Budget Marine's founder arrived on Sint Maarten in 1979 and soon realized that boat parts were in short supply and not easy to obtain. Thinking he could do a better job, he started a company in boat parts and called it Budget Marine to highlight his competitive pricing. In 1982 he started having a stock and selling parts to other people from the back bedroom of a house opposite Bobby's Marina, in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. In 1986, realizing that the bedroom operation was no longer fit for the purpose he moved his stock together with a windsufing shop belonging to Alfred Koolen. David de Vries came into the picture in 1988 doing the accounting and ordering and taking care of all the technical system such as choosing a new computer system. The three of them became good friends and shared a passion for sailing. It worked very well resulting in all three becoming partners as they combined their individual strengths to build the business: David being the cerebral guy doing the accounting and thinking, Alfred taking care of the operational side and Robbie moving everything forward.
Moving forward they did and in 1994 Budget Marine expanded to the French side of St.Martin. The company started distributing when Antigua opened a branch in 1993 and Trinidad in 1996. With an increasing number of containers in use, 26 at one point parked on spare land loaned by a local supermarket and using two floors of the shop, it quickly became apparant the operation was getting too big for the location they were in. In 1999 they moved to the present location in Cole Bay in 1999, bordering the Simpson Bay lagoon. Having to share the building foirst with two tenants, Budget marine soon took over the whole building and even built an extra third floor to support its growth.
As Budget Marine grew, managing inventory when products became widely available from anywhere and maintaining profit margins while managing staff costs soon became a major challenge. A bigger operation was needed in order to offset the cost for marketing, IT and inventory control costs. The company therefor started to look for partners and started expanding heavily over the years. In 2000, stores were opened in Tortola, BVI and St.Thomas USVI. In 2001, Budget Marine stores in Grenada and Bonaire opened their doors. In 2004, Curacao opened a Budget Marine store and in 2010 it was Aruba's turn. Antigua opened its second and third location in 2013 and 2015 and Trinidad opened its second location in 2016.
With 13 locations, Budget Marine has since become the leading retailer and wholesaler of pleasure boat marine equipment in the Caribbean; experiencing sales of US$27 million dollars in 2015. The marine leisure market is particularly strong with ocean-going sailing yachts, although the number of motor yachts has grown rapidly over the past few years. The area is well known for its charter boat industry and the majority of both private boat owners and large charter boat companies are important customers.The headquarters facility in Cole Bay, St. Maarten serves as group service and distribution center and is the largest retail entity for this marine sector in the Caribbean.
An extensive, 700+ page color catalogue, packed with technical information is maintained in printed book form, digital format (memory stick) and on-line and used to promote mail-order business for the Group. Export sales are handled mainly from St Maarten and Trinidad. To further promote Budget Marine, advertisements are placed in many popular cruising guides, yachting newspapers, directories and magazines. Email newsletters and an active Facebook page help to keep customers well informed.
Promotional activities and sponsorships support many regattas, fishing tournaments and other boating events throughout the island chain, two major ones being the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten and the Spice Island Billfish Tournament in Grenada. Assistance with marine environmental projects and a strong focus on youth sail training programs further enhance Budget Marine's presence in the Caribbean.
Budget Marine imports products from countries in over five continents, including the US, Canada, UK, Holland, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Columbia, Japan and Taiwan. Company buyers visit major international marine trade shows to ensure the latest in product coverage and the ability to respond to after-market needs of boat owners from all over the world. Budget Marine has established a reputation for product variety and quality at competitive pricing, which is the basis for the slogan, “WE STOCK WHAT SAILORS WANT”.