J & L Marine service and sales under new ownership

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"You asked if your boat's done? We have our four best people on it," say the new owners of J & L Marine in Guttenberg. From left are Bob Preston, Jack Benskin and new owners Josh and Meghan Ludovissy. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Mississippi River is one of the most important rivers in the United States. It extends 2,340 miles north to south from Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Guttenberg's prime location along the shores of America's greatest river provides area residents with countless opportunities to enjoy its majestic beauty. If you live along the river – you're going to need a boat. 

Jack and Linda Benskin, owners/operators of J & L Marine, have been providing sales and service to mariners throughout the tri-state area for the past 35 years. The couple has recently sold their business and will pass on their tradition of excellence to new owners, Josh and Meghan Ludovissy. 

Open house and retirement celebration

An open house and retirement celebration will be held on Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the business located at 903 Highway 52 in Guttenberg.  Door prizes and specials on in-stock items and refreshments will be available. 

 New owners

The Ludovissys and their two girls, Paige and Neave, currently reside in Sand Springs. Josh, a former Guttenberg graduate, furthered his education at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg and earned a diploma in marine technology and is Mercury certified. Josh has been employed as a boat mechanic at Hawkeye Boat Sales in Dubuque for the past 15 years. 

Meghan works as a nurse in Cedar Rapids and a nursing instructor for Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids. The busy mom will take over office operations at the marine business Monday through Friday and continue to work weekends as a nurse. 

The ambitious couple appreciates spending time with their children enjoying outdoor adventures and going to movies. Josh is currently restoring his home and a classic car. "We like to find a balance in our busy lives. It's not always easy," they said with a smile. 

The Ludovissys told the Press, "We have always been interested in owning our own business. Jack and Linda presented the opportunity, and we went for it." Josh continued, "I come from a long line of Mississippi River business owners. My great-great uncle, grandparents and now my parents have all taken turns owning 'Pirate's Pit Stop' in North Buena Vista." 

Dependable service

Josh explained, "We will continue to be a Mercury dealership and carry Crestliner boats and Sun Chaser pontoons. Our services include everything from oil changes to service repairs. We can do power head replacement and lower unit repair. We are a Mercury dealership but will also work on other brands."

Ludovissy assured, "J & L Marine's service department will remain the same. Bob Preston will remain on staff providing his dependable expertise in boat and motor repairs, and Jack will be on hand to lend his years of experience to assist with the transition process." He added, "Jack and Linda opened this business up the year I was born!"

Upcoming changes

The Ludovissys will be adding a few extra services to their new business venture. They offered, "We will remain open year-round and offer service and repair discounts. Instead of waiting for the last minute to get your boat water-ready, bring it in during December, January and February and receive discounted labor rates. Shrink-wrapping will also be added to our list of services. Shrink-wrapping your watercraft is popular for boats that are stored outdoors during the winter months," he said

Boat sales

Meghan commented, "We will continue to sell used boats. We are hoping to ramp up our pontoon sales. Pontoons have become very popular for families in the past several years. Mothers enjoy the security and safety they provide. Most of our personal friends are looking to purchase pontoons." Josh added, "The updates to pontoons have been phenomenal. They can be used for water skiing, fishing and pleasure boating." 

Looking for something out of the ordinary? "We can order new boats and specialize your order to get you exactly what you need. We hope to expand our showroom inventory as the weather warms up," they remarked.

"Crestliner has unveiled a new AP-X hull design. At the Crestliner dealership meeting we were able to test-drive one of the boats that had that feature. We noticed the boat came up to plane a lot faster and delivered a smoother ride. It was a fun day!" Meghan shared.  

Interior repairs

Does your water craft need a face-lift? "We can do transom repair, replace carpeting and basic structural repairs from bow to stern. We are not able to repair upholstery ourselves but can outsource the project to a reputable company," said Josh. 

The couple concluded, "We are excited for our first summer in Guttenberg and serving the area's boating needs."

Make plans to stop in at J & L Marine and thank Jack and Linda for their dedication to Guttenberg's business community and meet the new owners. 


J & L Marine is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. - noon. For additional information call 563-252-2020 or find them on Facebook.

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