What has become the world's largest boating supply retailer started modestly enough in a garage in Sunnyvale, CA. Repass, who was disappointed with his job at a Silicon Valley technology firm, turned to his love of boating for relief from the cold, impersonal nature of the high-tech industry. In 1968 he began selling nylon rope by mail order under the name West Coast Ropes.
Today, West Marine has more than 260 stores across the country, operates 62 BoatU.S. Marine Centers and has expanded into Canada with two stores in British Columbia. The company now carries more than 50,000 products, ranging from the rope that started it all, to the latest in marine electronics. In addition to its retail stores and Port Supply wholesale divisions, the company serves boaters in more than 150 countries worldwide through its mail order and Internet divisions.