Boat purchase launches second career - Soundings Online

Boat purchase launches second career

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How a Connecticut man became New England’s exclusive dealer of a boat security monitoring system

How a Connecticut man became New England’s exclusive dealer of a boat security monitoring system

About a year ago, Ben Grant and his wife, Linda, moved to Deep River, a small town nestled in the lower Connecticut River valley just north of Long Island Sound. Living only steps away from the water, the first thing Grant wanted to do was buy a boat.

“Now that I live five minutes from the water and marinas, buying a boat just seemed like a no-brainer,” he says. “I had my eye set on this 22-foot Mako center console. I thought it’d be perfect for fishing the river.”

But when the 60 year-old retired Wall Street analyst mentioned his idea to Linda, she was far from thrilled about owning a boat.

“She said to me, ‘Wait a minute, buying a boat was never in our agreement about moving here,’” Grant says. “No matter what I said she just wasn’t having it. I didn’t know what to do.”

That’s when Grant began brainstorming a plan to change his wife’s mind. Grant, who owns a security systems company, devised what he thought was a completely sensible pitch. He’d buy the Mako under the condition that he’d use it as a model for a new business venture: installing boat alarms. He’d name the new business U.S. Boat Alarm.

“I didn’t know if it was something I could do, but figured it was worth a shot,” he says. “Lucky for me it worked and Linda was OK with owning a boat.”

Even luckier still, Grant’s new idea took off. Just like homeowners, boat owners need to know that their property is protected. Leaving a boat moored and unsupervised can weigh on an owner’s mind, whether it be the threat of a break-in or a bilge pump failure. With an alarm system, these worries become things of the past.

Grant sells, installs and monitors alarm sensors developed and manufactured by the MarineGuard Network of Hampton Bays, N.Y. The sensors are mounted underneath the deck plate so when an intruder steps aboard — their body weight causing the deck to flex — the boat’s lights begin to flash, a siren sounds, the fuel pump is turned off and an emergency message is sent to the owner. Notification is delivered via e-mail and by a text message sent to a cell phone and/or pager. It’s also possible to have the signal transmitted to a 24-hour central information station that will respond to the alarm if the owner can’t be reached.

Large and small hatch contacts can be installed to determine if a hatch has been opened and point-to-point contacts monitor sliding doors. Photoelectric sensors can be installed to arm the boat with infrared beams.

“This really is a very effective system,” Grant says.

Another important security feature is the bilge pump sensor, which is mounted in the bilge area just above an acceptable water level mark. If water rises above that point an alarm will sound, alerting people nearby. Some security packages also come with a cellular GPS tracking system that works up to eight miles offshore. This feature is especially good, Grant says, to let owners know if their boat has been stolen. An owner can be notified if their boat has been moved more than 700 feet.

Components of each system package vary according to boat size and owner’s preference. Grant says pricing generally begins at $1,500.

“Hands-down, this is the best product on the market,” Grant says. “They’re worth every penny. I’m excited about the system and excited about getting this business off the ground.”

Grant is also excited because he has carved out a niche for U.S. Boat Alarm as MarineGuard’s exclusive New England dealership.

“Having alarm systems on boats is becoming more and more common,” Grant says. “There are a number of businesses out there doing this kind of thing, but not too many in New England. I’m pretty fortunate to be located where I am.”

And even though Grant keeps himself busy with U.S. Boat Alarm and his home security business, he still finds the time to enjoy a day of fishing on the river.

“You know, when all this started, all I wanted to do was go fishing,” he says. “I’ll find any excuse to get on the boat and be out on the water. And now I’ve got a successful boat alarm business. That’s pretty neat, too.”

For information call (888) 575-5500. www.usboatalarm.com