Dale Thomas is the founder and owner of Boat Brokers, LLC in Bristol, Tennessee. Thomas is certainly no newcomer to the regional boating scene, having been the driving force behind the development and growth of the unparalleled Laurel Marina & Yacht Club & Dealership.
Laurel Marina was established with the birth of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and until 2016, had been in continuous operation as a family-owned marina since 1950.
Thomas purchased the operation from his uncle in 1976, and subsequently grew the business from a small boat dock, to what is now the largest marina in Northeast Tennessee. Under Thomas’ management, Laurel was the first on South Holston to build covered slips in 1988, the first to build a floating restaurant, initiated the first approval for pump out facilities, bathrooms and showers and the first to offer live music on the weekends.
Thomas founded Laurel Marina Dealership in 1994 and incorporated in 1995. From 2010 through 2015, Laurel Marina was named a Boating Industry “Top 100 Dealer”, which includes the United States and Canada.
In 2001 Thomas was recognized by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency as a leader in getting the “Mandatory Boater Education Act” passed in the state of Tennessee. Becoming the first TVA certified “Clean Marina” and maintaining that certification since the program started with TVA in the region in 2002, speaks to Thomas’ leadership and commitment to the boating industry and the local community.
In 1997, Laurel Marina was a charter member of the Tennessee Marina Association (TMA). Thomas was elected to the Board of Directors the first year and served as President of TMA in 2000-01. Thomas was elected to serve another term on the Board for 2011-12 and again as president of TMA in 2013-2014, and remains involved with the organization
Thomas been a member of SPADER Marine 20 Group #101 since 1997, and served as chairman in 2001. He is also involved in a number of local civic organizations. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Bristol TN-VA, having served on the board and as past president. He continues to serve on the board of the United Way of Bristol since serving as the 2003 campaign chairman and as president in 2005.
He is a past chairman of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s and Convention Bureau and Laurel Marina is a founding sponsor of the annual South Holston Lake Cleanup event, now in its second decade.
Thomas is involved with several state, regional and national industry associations, including past president and board member of the Tennessee Marina Association (TMA). He was a MRAA member, AMI member and a MOAA member since 1999. He was national co-chair of National Marina Day in 2003, and has served on the board of the Tennessee Marina Association several terms.
From a philanthropic standpoint, Thomas created the annual Laurel Marina & Yacht Club and Laurel Marina Dealership Annual Poker Run and Live Auction benefitting the Bristol Motor Speedway Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. With an eleven-year run, the marina was successful in raising a total of nearly $122,000 for regional children’s charities.
In Spring 2016, Thomas sold Laurel Marina & Dealership to Anchor South Management, Inc. based in Knoxville, Tennessee. His previous dealership was also a Brunswick Master Dealer and Marine Industry certified "Five Star Dealer" from 2007 until the sell.
Never content to rest on his “laurels,” Thomas formed Boat Brokers LLC in the Fall of 2016 to introduce a new concept in boat brokerage to the Tri-Cities region.