Tuesday, August 26, 2008

At least one business is booming...

According to the Courant, the repo man is experiencing an economic bonanza as more middle and upper-middle income families fall behind on their toys that were financed with easy money during the past 5 years.

"Charlie Clarke throws his boat into gear and speeds toward the waterfront mansion in North Palm Beach. His eyes fix upon the 63-foot yacht docked outside. He's piloting Little Tow — an 18-footer that barely fits a crew of three.

Within minutes of hopping onto the wooden dock, he has untied the yacht from land and attached it to his own boat. Little Tow may seem like no match for the larger craft, but with a 150 horsepower engine, the job is a breeze as his tow captain pulls the yacht away with Clarke on board. "Piece of cake," Clarke says.

Though the struggling economy means hard times for most people, it's a godsend for the repo man, the person who shows up — often unexpectedly — to snatch your property when you're behind on payments."

Like most financial problems this one sits squarely on the backs of the consumer who though they could afford a $100k boat because the payments were "just" $880/mth over 15 years.

"I remember years ago when we used to pick up a boat a day," says company President Bob Toney. Right now he has 650 boats for sale or ready for sale across the country — in addition to Florida, he has teams working in Los Angeles and Cleveland. "People that have gotten into boating more recently are not as experienced, and may not have realized the costs involved. Fuel is a big part of it. Marinas are charging $5 to $6 a gallon, and you've got a 300- to 400-gallon tank."

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