Wheels and Waves Briefs

Graham Eubank is president of Palmetto Ford Lincoln, which in late February was named Lincoln Dealer of the Year in South Carolina by DealerRater online customer review site (File/Leroy Burnell/Staff).

•Charleston’s land of Lincoln•

In today’s connected world, car shoppers can make comments online to let people know what they think of a particular dealership.

One of those Internet information depositories is DealerRater, which calls itself the world’s premier car dealer review website.

During the year, the company keeps shoppers up-to-date about dealers through the reviews on its site. But it also sponsors a program that singles out the top dealers for the year in the various brands they sell.

This year, the top Lincoln outlet in the state, based on the customer reviews, is right here on Savannah Highway.

Palmetto Ford Lincoln was awarded the 2013 DealerRater Lincoln Dealer of the Year in South Carolina. The Charleston outfit was honored for “outstanding customer satisfaction” based on customers’ online reviews posted on DealerRater.com.

According to DealerRater, 38 manufacturer categories were represented in the award program, which honored top U.S. and Canadian dealers.

The company said it based selection on its PowerScore computations. They’re determined by ranking the average DealerRater consumer rating and the total number of reviews written about the dealership in the previous calendar year.

The website said Palmetto Ford Lincoln “has demonstrated consistently high PowerScore ratings for customer satisfaction, placing them in the top of their class.”

“We congratulate Palmetto Ford Lincoln for achieving the top award for customer satisfaction among Lincoln dealers across South Carolina and look forward to their continued success through unparalleled customer service,” said Chip Grueter, president of DealerRater.

“It was a tight competition among many outstanding dealers throughout South Carolina and Palmetto Ford Lincoln should be proud of this accomplishment,” he said.

According to DealerRater, “recent studies” show 84 percent of Americans say online evaluations influence their decision to buy a product or service. Also, 73 percent of car shoppers now consult online dealership reviews.

DealerRater said consumers’ growing use of the Internet in the past decade to shop for cars has made “reputation management” a vital part of dealerships’ marketing plans.

Founded 11 years ago, DealerRater said it features nearly 40,000 U.S. and Canadian car dealers, nearly 950,000 reviews and more than 1 million cars for sale.

DealerRater attracts more than 9.5 million consumers yearly who visit the site to search for car dealerships, read reviews, write their own descriptive reviews and find car deals — all for free, it said.

For more information, visit www.DealerRater.com or call toll-free 800-266-9455.

•Two wheel (blood) drive•

Cyclists get a chance to congregate at a local bike shop next weekend as they provide supplies for anyone who needs a transfusion.

American Biker in Ladson is holding a blood drive 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 16. According to the dealership, all blood types are needed. The outlet is located at 679 Treeland Drive off Interstate 26 at College Park Road, exit 203. Make an immediate left, Treeland is an I-26 frontage road at that point.

Located in Ladson since the mid 2000s, American Biker bills itself as “The Coolest Bike Shop in the Lowcountry.”

For more information and details on the blood drive, call 843-641-0258, come by the shop or e-mail ann2americanbiker.biz or Nicholas@americanbiker.biz.

•Scout takes Miami•

For a boat builder, posting a top-notch performance at a big winter show can set up a smooth ride for the year.

That’s why Summerville-based Scout Boats is excited about its display at the 2013 Miami International Boat Show Feb. 14-18 in Miami Beach.

Scout exhibited a number of its models in what the company said was its most successful show in Miami.

“Overall, we had a tremendous show and sales were high,” said Steve Potts, chief executive and founder of Scout Boats.

He thanked the National Marine Manufacturers Association for its efforts to promote the show. “It’s clear the Grow Boating campaign and all the hard work put into that by the industry professionals is taking hold and starting to pay dividends for us as exhibitors,” Potts said.

“We saw steady traffic throughout the show,” Scout vice president Dave Wallace said. The interest took place not only at the Scout booth but through the show and on the docks where the boat maker showcased in-water demonstration models.

“We look forward to having other successful NMMA-sanctioned shows throughout this boat show season,” he said.

Scout’s display included its all-new 320 LXF and 350 LXF designs, which are debuting for the 2013 model year. The company also had a triple-engine 350 LXF and 275 LXF with Teleflex Optimus 360 in the water at the Sea Isle Marine location.

For more information, visit www.scoutboats.com.

•Pump it up•

Another locally connected participant at the Miami show was Z Marine North America LLC, formerly Zodiac Recreational of North America.

The worldwide inflatable-boat maker has had centralized operations in Dorchester County for several years.

Zodiac was to roll out its largest RIB (Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat) at the Miami show. The 28-foot model, called the Pro 850, showcases a new Yamaha Helm Master joystick control system.

“The 850 is our flagship RIB and we are extremely pleased at how she performs with the Helm Master control system,” said Gary Dickman, Zodiac president.

The control system is a collaborative effort between Yamaha and Volvo Penta, according to Zodiac.

It’s designed for use on mid- to large-sized boats with twin or triple Yamaha outboard engine mounts. Complementing the standard steering and remote control unit is a joystick that enables 360-degree control and turning of the boat at low speeds, Zodiac noted.

Other features on the Pro 850 are a Garmin GPS chart plotter with sonar module, and Garmin HD radar.

Z Marine North America LLC calls itself the world’s oldest and most recognized manufacturer of recreational inflatable boats, RIBs, life rafts and safety equipment. It is a subsidiary of global private investment firm OpenGate Capital.

According to OpenGate’s website, the firm agreed last summer to acquire Zodiac Recreational from Zodiac Marine & Pool, which divested the boat maker “as part of an on-going strategy to refine and refocus its business in the military, professional, and clean water industries.”

For more information, visit www.zodiacmarineusa.com.