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Race City Marine Builds on Faith to Grow Business Into Premier Mooresville Dealership

"We have an amazing team here that's here to serve each family."

Back in 2008, Matt Santomenna had worked in the corporate world for 20 years when he and his wife Lynette began to feel a calling to do something greater.

“We felt like the Lord was leading us to change what we were doing,” Matt recalls. “I wanted to get back to my roots; my roots were Nautiques and ski boats and spending time on the water with the family.”

They answered that call, building on that toolbag to launch Race City Marine in Mooresville, a boat repair and dealership that they have grown over 16 years into a regional boat dealership and faith-driven business that not only gives families a one-stop shop for summer fun on the water but supports the greater community, offering unprecedented financial support to the Statesville-based Power Cross Ministries.

Matt and Lynette Santomenna stand in front of Race City Marine in Mooresville, North Carolina
Matt and Lynette in front of the 17,000 square foot Race City Marine facility. (Photo courtesy of Race City Marine)

“It’s been such an amazing journey filled with faith and prayer and just persistence and following God’s plan one step at a time,” says Lynette.

Today, Race City Marine sells products from three top-brand boat companies — Nautique, Barletta and Chris Craft — becoming Mooresville’s premier family-owned-and-operated boat dealership, serving customers in both North and South Carolina with all their boat needs, be it for wakesurfing, wakeboarding or cruising.

Now operating out of a beautiful, expansive 17,000-square-foot facility on River Highway in Mooresville, things started out much more humble for the Santomennas.

Their first facility featured a single bay before they quickly moved into a 4,800-square-foot space, sharing a building with another business.

Despite the space limitations — some staff members set up their respective workspaces inside of the boats they were selling — the Race City team succeeded thanks to their top-notch customer service and true care for the people they served.

Within a year, they had become the regional Nautique warranty service provider, then by 2010, they became a dealer for the widely beloved company.

A Nautique Super Air G23 available at Race City Marine in Mooresville, North Carolina
Nautique Super Air G23 available at Race City Marine. (Photo courtesy of Nautique)

Since then, they’ve moved into their new 17,000-square-foot facility on nearly 11 acres in Mooresville, where they serve as a one-stop shop for families looking to enjoy the lakes around the Piedmont and beyond.

Built with the help of 20 Groups’ David Parker, the state-of-the-art facility includes a 7,200-square-foot showroom, a 5,800-square-foot service department, a conference room, a parts room, a pro shop, a break room and offices.

It’s a long way from having staff setting up their desks inside of boats.

“To see this versus where we are is amazing,” says Matt. “The facility now matches the product. We are able to give our customers the great experience that they deserve. Nautique does just an amazing job in the product. Now, when you look at the product and you walk in here, you know this is a Nautique dealership. You feel it.”

Matt and Lynette Santomenna of Race City Marine posing with awards won in 2022 as top dealers and visionaries by Nautique Boats
Matt and Lynette took home Visionary and Top Dealer awards in 2022 from Nautique Boats. (Photo courtesy of Race City Marine)

There are more subtle aspects that make Race City Marine a cut above the rest. Drainage on the floor allows staff to bring boats right into the building. An exhaust fan allows them to start up the engines to take a look at any issues. A test pool in the back allows staff to test the boat without ever taking it off the property.

“We can take a brand new boat, rig it, put it in a little test tank, test it, make sure everything’s 100% before we take it on its first ride,” says Matt. “That way we’re not wasting a bunch of time. It also allows us to test each boat after a customer comes in and we do their service work for them.”

Within the last year, they’ve also opened their storage facility, which allows them to offer year-round service. There’s no reason for Race City customers to go elsewhere.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” says Matt. “It’s an easy button. We push the easy button; give us a call. They buy the boat from us, we service the boat for them, and then we store it for the wintertime, and we do all the maintenance. So we’ve really become their one source of fun for the summertime.”

With great fun comes great responsibility, however, and the Santomennas always keep community and faith in mind while carrying out their work.

It was in 2016 that, following the word of God, Lynette came to Matt with the idea to tithe for every boat they sold.

That is how the Santomennas partnered with Power Cross Ministries, founded by Jeff and Natalie Storment in 2006 with a Bible study followed by dinner and a football game. It has since grown into a training and discipleship program that serves more than 350 young men every year from two locations — one in Salisbury and another in Statesville.

Power Cross Ministries poses with graduates for their 2024 Wall Hanging Ceremony
Power Cross Ministries celebrating their graduates at the 2024 Wall Hanging Ceremony. (Photo from Power Cross Ministries Instagram)

Serving hot meals daily, providing academic support, athletic development and daily Christian discipleship are the tools Power Cross uses to shape young lives everyday. Since its inception Power Cross has served over 200,000 meals, seen more than 3,000 salvations, and helped award over $8 million in scholarships to participants.

“They were needing money in the summertime, and we had the ability to give them money in the summertime,” says Matt of the partnership’s beginnings in 2016. “But we have [since] seen their ministry grow. We’ve seen our business grow and our tithe grow. It’s phenomenal. You cannot out-give God. It’s just been a tremendous thing.”

“I just feel so blessed,” adds Lynette. “It’s just such a blessing. It’s amazing to be here, to serve the community like this at this level.”

It’s been quite a road for the Santomennas, driven by faith and their belief in each other, which has cultivated a community of people who now work together to make Race City Marine Mooresville’s premier family-owned-and-operated boat dealership.

Their promise is to share their expert knowledge to help any and all customers make an informed boat-buying decision — no pressure, guaranteed.

“We have an amazing team here that’s here to serve each family. It’s grown way beyond you and I,” Matt says to his wife. “It used to be the dealership of Matt and Lynette, now it’s Team Race City Marine.”

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