Lakeview Marina Sets Standard for Family-Owned Businesses

Lakeview Marina Sets Standard for Family-Owned Businesses

by Steve Gamel

In 1942, Louis B. Drozd, Sr. opened a fishing camp in Lake Dallas. Back then, fishermen would haul the motor for their boats in the trunk of their cars, and one of Drozd’s many jobs was to help walk those motors down to their boats and get them set up for a day
on the lake.

Customers relied on Drozd for everything. He built houses, docks, provided boat and cabin rentals, and was a lake guide. He eventually turned that humble fishing camp into what is now known as Lakeview Marina.

Today, Lakeview Marina is the oldest continually-operating business in Lake Dallas. Its story is amazing, not just because of its rich history and growth—this full-service marina has grown from 150 slips to near 500—but because Drozd passed away years ago and left the vision of the company in his family’s hands.

It is run by a third generation, but five generations of the Drozd family have had their hands in Lakeview Marina’s legacy—setting the standard for how every family-owned business should be run.

“It’s not something we take for granted,” Mike Drozd said of his grandfather’s vision. “To have this passed down from my grandfather, to my dad, and then us … that’s not something that happens every day.”

Lakeview Marina turns 74 this year, and Mike says one of the keys to the success of this business is rooted in how the entire family has followed in Louis Sr.’s footsteps. Louis originally passed the business on to his son, Louis B. Drozd Jr., who eventually left it in the hands of his three sons, Mike, Tom, and Dean.

Mike, Tom and Dean are all hands-on at all aspects of the marina. Tom handles the shop and Mike runs the boat docks while Dean does a little bit of everything, working on boats and repairing docks.

Their children—all totaled, there are nine of them—and Mike’s and Tom’s wives, Brenda and Bridgett, have worked, or are currently working, at the marina in some capacity. So have their grandchildren who, as young as they are, learned the ropes by working on the gas dock
during the summer.

“It’s like a rite of passage!” Mike’s daughter, Alyssa Whittle, said.

There is just one current employee, Randy Smith, who is not a member of the Drozd family—though he’s been around so long that no one can really tell the difference.

Mike, Tom, and Dean all live within a stone’s throw of the marina—and they are there
every day.

“People joke that it is easy to run a marina,” Tom Drozd said. “But this is a seven-day-a-week job. It’s incredible to see what it takes to run this place. My dad worked right up until he passed away. That’s just the way he was, and he was a smart guy. He knew how to take care of people.”

Tom added, “If it can be done, we do it.”

The Drozd boys have plenty of stories to tell about their grandfather, and when you listen to them talk, nothing gets lost in translation. Louis Sr. was a jack of all trades—and even that moniker doesn’t properly do him justice.

Louis’ humble fishing camp began its path toward what it is today when he built a dock for a friend. The next thing he knew, he had built another, then another. Eventually, he built one for himself.

His son, Louis Jr., came into the picture in the 1950s and was immediately put to work. Lakeview Marina eventually became known as THE place to go for boat repairs, storage, sales and everything in between. In the meantime, the Drozd boys were into everything on the lake, including boat racing and fixing boats.

“I was welding when I was 12 and 13 years old,” Tom said. “We learned so much early
on in life.”

Mike agreed. He said his favorite passed-down skill was working with the tractors and equipment. Mike passed that love on to his son Michael, who now works by his side learning the same things Mike did as a boy from his grandfather and father.

“We grew up on the lake and went to school in Lake Dallas. That was before this area is what it is today,” Mike said. “We had free range on that lake, and we did a little bit of everything.”

As they got older and more involved under their grandfather and father’s tutelage, the marina kept growing. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Lakeview Marina was the largest dealer in the southwest for Gibson Houseboats. In 2002, it became the second marina on Lake Lewisville to be certified as a clean marina by the Clean Texas Marina Program. In May 2015, the marina was inducted into the Denton County Heritage Business Program of the Office of History
and Culture.

All the while, it continued to draw in customers and stayed afloat—no pun intended—through good times and bad. This marina has overcome everything from severe drought to last year’s record rainfall, and the family has done the bulk of the upgrades over the years themselves.
This includes all the road and infrastructure. The roads and airport runway were built from the dredged soil from the lake as more room was being made for boat docks. The last set of roads, referred to as the “high road”, was laid in the 1990s as the marina continued to grow.

“It’s been a handful. We build our own docks; we don’t subcontract any of that out. My son moves around this place like a snake fixing stuff, just like I used to be able to do,” Tom said with a laugh. “We all keep extremely busy, but I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
If there was one thing the Drozd family knows best—more than the ability to build their own docks, repair boats, and run a successful marina—it’s customer service.

“This business is family-oriented. I have customers who have been with us 30-34 years,” Mike said. “We cater to that. We try to be dependable, and we give them value by
showing we care.”

Lakeview Marina does more than just treat customers like family. The Drozd family has made it a point to stay active in the boating and local communities by holding an active membership in the Marina Association of Texas.

They have been a member of the Lake Cities Chamber of Commerce since it’s inception in 1974 and the marina supports the local community by participating as a sponsor in many events, including Mardi Gras, Lake Cities 4th of July and Kids ‘N Cops programs.

Mike sits on the Lake Cities Education Foundation Board, and the family also started a scholarship with LCEF in their late father’s name – Louis B. Drozd, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

“The neat thing is we don’t have a lot of employee turnover because we’re all family,” Mike said with a laugh. “That’s good for the customers because they see the same people here all the time. We are able to pass on that loyalty from this family to the customers.”

Just as grandpa intended.

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