This month's Bay People brings you a whole family: the three generations of Trainers who run Anchor Boats and Marina in North East, MD

anchor boats
Matt, Ed "Butch," and Ethan. 

The early days.

In the early 1970s Ed “Butch” Trainer opened a sporting goods shop on Route 272, the road leading into North East, MD. The shop sold hunting and fishing supplies and small, aluminum Jon boats. As demand for the boats grew, Butch stocked bigger boats and engines. 

Anchor Boats
Ed II runs the marina.

The business expands.

Eventually the boating lines were selling so well that Butch decided to close the sporting goods shop and concentrate on boats and engines. In 1973 he opened a small dealership that he called Anchor Boats. It’s still operating today, more than 50 years later. In 1980 the business expanded to add Anchor Marina, offering customers a dry dock storage, called ‘high and dry,’ that can house nearly 400 boats. There is also a ramp, 15 slips (eight with lifts), floating docks for public daytime use, a pump-out station, and a parts and accessories store.

Three generations.

Matt says, “My brother and I grew up in the business—working at the gas dock, washing boats, painting bottoms—and our kids did the same. I’ve spent my whole career here except for a short time when I worked for Viking Yachts right after graduating from college, but I wanted to get back to the family business. It’s what I knew and what I enjoyed.”

Today Matt and Ed II manage the day-to-day operations of the thriving business. Matt runs the sales department while Ed manages the marina, which is located nearby in North East Harbor.

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The marina is located nearby in North East Harbor.

The next generation is following in their fathers’ footsteps. They too started out working at the gas dock and washing and painting boat bottoms. Ed’s son, Ethan, a recent college graduate, is currently working in sales with Matt, who is teaching him the ropes, and before moving on to other endeavors, Ed III spent three years at the business. Matt’s daughter, Emily, now in college, has also enjoyed working at the family-run company. 

Matt says, “It’s a team effort. Each of us can float into different areas of the business as needed because we’ve all spent years jumping in to help wherever it’s needed. We run our business differently than some dealerships. We have a small staff, which means we all work very hard and wear about 10 different hats, but we like it that way. From my perspective, that’s just part of operating a family business.”

Building on a solid foundation.

“Most of what I know about business I learned from my dad,” says Matt, “especially how to work hard. Dad is 79 years old and still comes to work seven days a week. Beyond the work ethic that he is still modeling for the younger generations, my dad taught me the ins and outs of how to run a dealership and make sound business decisions.”

Matt says that even with a solid foundation, each generation will put its own spin on the business that is passed down to them. 

“You have to be open to change, not just because of generational differences, but because of changes in the industry. For example, technology has advanced so much. Another example of change is how the industry is moving toward outboards. We’ve responded to that, and today we are a key Yamaha dealer. Almost all the orders we place for new boats have Yamaha outboards on them. 

“For 34 years Anchor Boats was exclusively a Wellcraft dealer, but today we carry new boats from Four Winns, Key West, Robalo, G-3, Scout, and SunCatcher, plus a large selection of used boats. There have been other changes over time, too. Some of them are behind the scenes—things like how we monitor inventory and order parts.”

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Anchor Boats sells new boats from Four Winns, Key West, Robalo, G-3, Scout, and SunCatcher, plus a large selection of used boats.

Generations of customers, too!

Matt says, “We work hard to provide excellent customer service and competitive pricing, and we see the results when the next generations of customers return to buy a boat from us or use our marina facilities. We have plenty of customers whose parents bought boats from us, and in a few cases we even have customers whose grandparents bought boats from us. That is what it’s all about!”

You can learn more about Anchor Boats at