The Original Story posted June 27, 2022 can be found at speedonthewater.com. Thanks Jason!
CK Performance Marine owner Mike Holford had some incredibly big shoes to fill more than four years ago when he took over—and rebranded—the Michigan-based business his mentor, veteran offshore racer and talented mechanic Keith Holmes, started decades earlier. Fortunately for customers of Holmes’ CK Motorsports in Nunica, Mich., Holford hasn’t missed a beat since the accomplished throttleman died following an accident during a race in St. Clair, Mich., in 2017.
The future home of CK Performance Marine in Norton Shores, Mich., is in the works. Photos courtesy Mike Holford
In fact, after four-plus years of owning the business, which is a preferred Mercury Racing certified service center, Holford recently decided it’s time to make another significant investment with a new property so he purchased land and started breaking ground on a larger, more modern facility about 15 miles northwest in Norton Shores, Mich.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this without Keith for almost five years,” said Holford, who was quick to thank his wife, Sarah, for supporting him and handling the business finances despite working a full-time job as an accountant in the food industry. “We’ve been getting busier and busier with rebuilds, maintenance and other projects that it became time to look at the future of the business. We’re bursting at the seams so we figured that buying land and constructing our own building was the smartest decision we could make for our long-term success.”
Convinced that if he had more space in his current 9,000-square-foot shop, he could take in more work and hire additional employees than the three he currently has working for him, Holford is excited about the future at the new property.
“We’re so thankful for our loyal CK Performance Marine customers; without them we wouldn’t be making this move,” Holford said, adding that the drive rebuild business has been consistently busy. “Our clients have been so great. They trust us with some pretty incredible hardware, too. It’s a little scary to be taking this leap, but we’re investing in our future by creating a greater marine service center that will be even closer to the water for testing purposes.”
If all goes as planned, Holford, who recently added his Mercury outboard certification to his Mercury Marine and Mercury Racing sterndrive qualifications, expects to be moved into the new facility, which sits on a little more than two acres, before the end of the year.
“We’re currently building a 12,000-square-foot shop with two 20-foot by 70-foot mezzanines and a reception office in front,” he said. “We have plans for a second building, too, and there’s space to expand, if needed. We’re excited to get everything set up to make our business more efficient. We’re also excited to be closer to the water.”
Original Story - Speed On the Water 2/26/18
For close to 15 years, Mike Holford had a nearly perfect mentor. Then one day, following a tragic accident in St. Clair, Mich., his mentor was gone. Now, some seven months later, Holford is ready to shoulder the load of the late Keith Holmes—the widely respected businessman, talented mechanic and accomplished offshore racer who died in an accident during the last race of the St. Clair River Classic in late July.
As the new owner of CK Performance Marine, the Nunica, Mich.-based company he’s rebranding from CK Motorsportsafter purchasing it from Holmes’ wife, Jen, Holford said his main goal is to provide the same quality customer service that the CK customers have been receiving over the past two decades.
He admits that coming to work and not seeing Holmes hasn’t been easy, but he’s more than ready to take control. In fact, he said Holmes’ plan was to eventually have him run the shop because Holmes envisioned spending more time in Florida. Unfortunately that day came a little sooner than expected.
“I knew one day this opportunity would come, but by no means did I want it to happen this way,” said Holford, who raced alongside Holmes many times over the years. “I’m motivated because I know Keith is still there behind me. He’d want me to keep pushing forward. If it wasn’t for Jen, none of this would even be possible. She’s been so great and I think she knows Keith will be looking over me. I’ve basically been given everything I need to be successful thanks to what we grew together; I just have to keep it going.”
Holford also thanked his wife, Sarah, for being so supportive with the undertaking.
“The reaction from our clients has been great—I’ve received nothing but support all around since we made the news official last week,” Holford said. “We’ve been swamped here. Business is good and we’re moving forward just as Keith would have wanted it.”
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