Gov. Rick Scott touts Lee boat dealer Fish Tale, plan to add jobs in Naples

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited Fish Tale Boats in South Lee County on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Ryan Mills/Naples Daily News

Fish Tale Boats, a longtime Southwest Florida boat dealer and service facility, plans to expand operations into the Naples area this summer, less than a year after opening a new south Lee County headquarters.

Travis Fricke, 32, Fish Tale’s vice president of operations, said the company should be opening a Naples sales center off Davis Boulevard near Airport-Pulling Road in August or September.

“We’re just getting to the client, because Naples is an important market,” Fricke said.

Gov. Rick Scott stopped by Fish Tale’s new south Lee headquarters, off U.S. 41 and Briarcliff Road, on Tuesday morning to highlight the company’s growth over the past several years.

Since 2011, when Scott took office, Fish Tale has almost doubled its workforce from 21 employees to 41, Fricke said. That number should continue to grow with the new Naples sales center, Fricke said.

Scott awarded Fricke and his mother, Diane Fricke, Governor’s Business Ambassador medals.

“You have a beautiful location,” Scott said, surrounded in a service bay by Fish Tale employees, boats, Yamaha motors and a draped American flag. “I hope you don’t have 41 employees next year. I hope you’ve sold so many boats that you have 100 employees.”

During his presentation, Scott touted Florida’s improving economy, low unemployment rate and job creators like Fish Tale. But he lamented significant budget cuts made by the Legislature this month to two statewide economic development agencies, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

“We have to keep fighting for jobs,” Scott said. “We’re on a roll right now, but unfortunately the politicians in Tallahassee, we just finished our session, they turned their back on two agencies that create jobs.”

When asked after the presentation about a possible veto of the budget, Scott said he is “going to look at the budget very closely.”

“We’re taking our time,” he said. “We’re going through the budget because I know it’s your money.”

Fish Tale was purchased in 1996 by Diane Fricke and her late husband, Bruce.

Before moving into its new facility just north of San Carlos Park late last year, the company had its headquarters on Fort Myers Beach. Fish Tale has customers from Venice to Marco Island, and the new location makes it easier to get to them.

“It makes sense to be centralized in order to service our customers better,” Travis Fricke said.

Fish Tale specializes in selling Grady-White, Chaparral and Robalo boats. Travis Fricke said his goal is for his family’s business to keep expanding.

“It will continue to grow,” he said. “There’s a lot of market share out there for boats. The market is growing as a whole.”

 


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