Keith Prust has returned to his hometown to open a new marina.
“Since getting into the industry, I have always wanted to own a marina,” he said.
To be able to do so not only in his hometown but on his favorite lakes is something special.
Taylor Lake Marine will officially open on May 1 at N2757 County Road QQ, on the east end of Taylor Lake.
Prust is creating it in partnership with Clear Water Harbor.
The marina is next to Cleark Water Harbor in King, where the former marina, Chain O’ Lakes Marine was located.
The owners of Chain O’ Lakes Marine, Carl Nelson and Roger and Linda Cross, have retired – hence the need for new ownership, Prust said.
The services provided at the location will remain in place under the new ownership, while upgrades and additions are being made.
Pontoon boat rentals, docks/shore stations, winterizing and storage are available.
The service garages are in operation, with Bret Christensen as the head mechanic.
In addition, Taylor Lake Marine will also be getting into paddling sports like kayaking and stand-up paddle boards, which are “so popular all over the world right now,” Prust said.
He said the transition into new ownership will be a smooth one.
The newly renovated marina includes new docks, boat ramp, marina office and a new boat house.
The boat house will soon be available for private events.
Remodeling began last fall, with new heated floors in the garages, the addition of a restroom and office and counter and ticket window.
Prust plans to employ seven full-time seasonal employees and to be open during daylight hours daily throughout the summer.
He came home last August to create the full-service marina on the Chain O’ Lakes.
Born and raised in Waupaca, the summers of his childhood were spent on the lakes.
After graduating from Waupaca High School in 1995, Prust worked at Clear Water Harbor as captain of the Chief Waupaca and Lady of the Lakes.
At age 20, he began his journey to the sea.
He was a student at the University of Minnesota when one winter day, he went to a travel agent instead of to class.
Three weeks later, he was in the Caribbean with a backpack.
There, he discovered the opportunities that were available for a career in the yachting industry.
He met Ludovico Clerici, an Italian sailing skipper, who took him under his wing.
After a couple years of apprenticeship and thousands of miles sailing the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, Prust graduated from first mate to captain.
Since then, he has logged more than 50,000 miles of boats of various sizes and propulsions.
Prust has both off-shore cruising experience and inland travel experience. He spent several years as captain of a 95-foot classic yacht.
For 10 years, he was based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and he holds a 200 Ton Master Captain’s License of both sailing and motor vessels, covering inland and off-shore waters.
He is also a certified scuba diving instructor and has taught many students.’
The Meighan family owns the property where the marina is located, and Prust said he stayed in touch with the family since the days when he worked at Clear Water Harbor.
“It was always my first stop when I was home for the summer,” he said.
Last summer, the conversation turned to the marina opportunity, and Prust has no regrets about leaving the yachting industry for the marina industry.
“I feel very positive with the work we’ve done so far and excited to do the rest,” he said.
Taylor Lake Marine can be reached at 715-258-8840. Visit its website at www.taylorlakemarine.com