Meet Your Merchant: A century of memories at Obexer’s Boat Company |

Meet Your Merchant: A century of memories at Obexer’s Boat Company

Jason ShuehSierra Sun
Jason Shueh / Sierra Sun Sarah Obexer, owner of Obexer's Boat Company in Homewood, stands in her market, where family photos depicting relatives and the family's long history greet guests and locals alike. Obexer took over the market in 2009 and, with the help of Market Operations Manager Scott Willers, has jump-started the market with its own homemade marinated tri-tip sandwiches, quickly turning into a local favorite.

HOMEWOOD, Calif. andamp;#8212; Summers were always good on the West Shore.At age 12, she would come from Sonora, Calif., a week after school ended and make the drive up with her mother to Lake Tahoe. It was a family visit, a time of barbecues, hanging out on the family pier, being with her grandparents Herb and Edna Obexer andamp;#8212; and maybe taking a boat ride at the family marina, Obexer’s Boat Company.They were good times made up of beach parties and meeting friends at the pier. Yet, unknown to Sarah Obexer, a mantle was changing. A shift was coming for Sarah, who saw Tahoe then as simply a family tradition inseparable from summer as lines on a palm. It was just part of growing up. Sure, at times it was hard on her mother, Penne, who carried many memories of her father. Jacob andamp;#8220;Jakeyandamp;#8221; Obexer II, who died in a boatyard accident when Sarah was an infant.The memories were hard, not because they were bad, but because they were so good, good like the lake, like family, good and warm as any summer could be.Yet the mantle was changing, silently, rolling in at the end of high school, deepening as she attended Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village and then finishing her business degree at University of Nevada, Reno. Yes, some day the famous Obexer Boat Company would all be hers.andamp;#8220;It really wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized the gift that was sitting in front me,andamp;#8221; Sarah said. andamp;#8220;I was kind of on a different path.andamp;#8221;After college, Sarah began to work steadily at the lake, staying for good this time, pumping gas at the dock, helping Edna with duties as postmaster, operating the boat lifts and learning the financial side of the family business.andamp;#8220;The transition for me was the interest in the people even more so than the business side of it; it was the people part that always fascinated me,andamp;#8221; Sarah said, crediting Tahoe’s colorful collection of residents as her reason for taking on operations.The rest, as they say, is history. Edna passed away in her bed in March of 2007, and ever since, Sarah has done her best to keep the marina as her grandparents and great grandparents would have wanted it to be: accessible to locals and loyal to its customers.Now with a husband, Keith Fields, and two kids of her own, Sarah and her staff are dedicated to continuing the family legacy, the company that turned 100 years old earlier this year.

Momma Bear andamp;#8212; that’s Sarah’s title now, given to her by her staff, all of whom she says she sees as her family. The staff even likes to call her office Momma Bear’s andamp;#8220;lair.andamp;#8221;The nickname is emblematic of Sarah Obexer, as the years have passed and she’s taken on the role as the new matriarch of the family marina.As she’s filled in, modernization has been her focus, gradually bringing the company into the new century’s digital age, creating a website, working on new marketing techniques and updating old equipment.andamp;#8220;When I started, we had a dial phone with the big old fat buttons that said andamp;#8216;line one’ and andamp;#8216;line two’ andamp;#8212; and that was big time back then,andamp;#8221; she said.Sarah said she’s lucky to have a close-knit staff to help her out.andamp;#8220;Our staff loves to hang out with each other … our guys will literally work five days together and then spend their days off together camping,andamp;#8221; she said.Marina Operations Manager Darren Kramer said it’s a unique staff relationship; so close, he jokes, it even makes their family and friends wonder a bit.andamp;#8220;It’s funny because if you ask all of our girlfriends, they all say we have a man crush on each other,andamp;#8221; Kramer said laughing.Yet Kramer, a transplant from Annapolis, Md., said it is the friendly atmosphere that’s attracted employees to the company, some going on 30 years, others returning summer after summer part time for more than eleven.andamp;#8220;I’m a small town guy. I like the mom and pop feel, but I like having some of the amenities of the corporate life … we tie into both those niches which is awesome,andamp;#8221; he said.Sarah said she hopes the family will continue to operate the marina for years to come; however, if her 7-year-old Jacob Obexer III or 3-year-old Kaleb Obexer have other plans, well, that’s OK.andamp;#8220;It is always a parent’s hope that when you’re in a family business that’s been here this long, your kids are going to carry on,andamp;#8221; she said. andamp;#8220;That’s your true desire, but like my grandparents were with me, I tell them it’s OK if you choose not to do this, and we’ll support you and bless you along any path you take.andamp;#8221;

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