Our History

Petzold’s is a family-run business started in 1945 by William Sr. and Agnes Petzold. In the beginning, they sold outboard motors and small rowboats out of the basement of their home on Route 66 in Portland, Conn. Bill Sr. worked in the aircraft industry for many years, and he repaired outboards and small boats on the side. Eventually, he hired a boat builder, while he continued to work at the aircraft company.

The first outboard motors sold by Petzold’s were Martin & Champion and Evinrude. As time went on, they built a separate store and shop to accommodate the larger boats they sold. Outboard boats were built up to 25 feet. Beginning with Tomahawk brand 12-16 feet wood runabouts, they started buying factory-built boats. This is when Agnes left her job as a schoolteacher to run the office.

As the business grew, new boat brands were added to the inventory, including Trojan, Pembroke and Owens. It became difficult to service and transport them to the water from the highway location. So in 1959, Bill Sr. decided to buy a seven-acre lot that was formerly the Gildersleeve Shipyard. The land had been vacant since 1930 and no buildings stood there. In 1966, we transferred everything to a new location in Portland.

A few years later, the company discontinued outboard sales and service. The new land was graded and prepared for a new travel lift well to be built, along with a 40-by-100-foot storage shed and a small workshop. Over time, the original shed was expanded and the showroom and more storage buildings were built. In addition, two more travel lift wells were added. Petzold’s now has 15-ton, 35-ton and 55-ton travel lifts capable of hauling boats up to 70 feet.

We offer full service with our own mechanical, fiberglass and canvas departments. We also have the largest discount marine store in the area and storage for more than 300 boats, both inside and out.

Petzold’s is one of New England’s largest boat dealers, representing some of the finest new boats in the industry, including Sabre, Back Cove, EdgeWater and Regal. Petzold’s also has a very active brokerage department.

Upon retirement of William and Agnes, their son Bill Jr., along with his sister, Elaine Cote, and her husband, Richard Cote, ran the yard until recent years. All three have retired or are semi-retired. Bill Jr’s two sons, Bob and Ken Petzold, now run the yard. The newest addition to the company, the fourth generation, can be found in the ship store or working around the yard.

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