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Vol 5 No. 38 - June 8, 2005

Cannons Marina turns 50

Cannons Marina owner David Miller, left, stands beside one of the Grady-White boats he has for sale. Cannons is celebrating 50 years in business this month.

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

LONGBOAT KEY – When Detroit businessman Paul Miller moved to Longboat Key in 1955, he didn’t just buy Cannons Marina from Ernie Cannon, he purchased a legacy for his son, David.

Cannons Marina and Cannons-by-the-Sea rental cottages, on opposite sides of Gulf of Mexico Drive, have been David Miller’s life since he was a kid growing up on Longboat Key.
Miller remembers when Gulf of Mexico Drive was lined by Australian pines on both sides, before Arvida developed it into a chain of lushly-landscaped condominiums. He remembers the key populated with rabbits, raccoons and rattlesnakes, not snowbirds. And he recalls when the bridge was built from Longboat Key to Anna Maria Island because it meant he could transfer from Sarasota to the third grade at Anna Maria Elementary School.
Miller already knew arithmetic before he started school, thanks to his dad, who made him count out shrimp for bait customers.

By 1972, he was ready to take over at the helm, and has been selling, renting and repairing power boats and engines ever since. The 20-employee firm carries Grady-White and Scout boats and Yamaha engines; in the 1980s, Cannons dropped its exclusive contract with Evinrude when Yamaha engines proved more reliable.

This month, Cannons became the first Manatee County marina to be designated as both a Clean Boatyard and a Clean Marina by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The business also has been nominated for the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce 2005 Small Business Award, to be presented this week. Cannons also holds six consecutive years of Admiral’s Circle awards from Grady-White for customer service and sales, and Best in Class awards from Yamaha.

In 1991, Cannons helped spearhead the Sister Keys Conservancy to acquire and preserve Longboat Key’s Sister Keys. The business also helps sponsor St. Stephen’s School, the Cortez Historical Society, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and the Sarasota Power Squadron, among others.

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