From the Ashes Pine Lake Parts turns disaster into an unlikely business success by
PHOTOGRAPHY by BRIAN POWERS
Pat Cooper, owner of Pine Lake Parts which supplies parts for old motors like this one.
Pat and Shelly Cooper make sales while they sleep. The owners of Pine Lake Parts, in Plainwell, which specializes in new, used and vintage marine parts and accessories, fire up their computers each day to find their eBay account greeting them with new orders: a boat motor, a gasket, a carburetor or perhaps a flywheel … the list goes on. “We make sales seven days a week and around the clock,” Pat Cooper says, a broad smile lighting up his face. “We have gotten up in the morning to find that we (already) hit our sales goal for the day.” Pat has good reason to smile. Back in 1998, he and his wife had a dream: to live on Pine Lake near Plainwell, run a fun business that was close to home and pay their bills. Despite a few hiccups and a devastating fire, the Coopers’ dream has come true. Building the dream Both Pat and Shelly grew up in Grand Ledge, but Pat spent summers on Barry County’s Pine Lake, at his parents’ cottage. In 1998, he and Shelly bought their own cottage on the lake. Over Christmas break that year, the Coopers — who lived in Portland, just west of Grand Ledge — spent time working on the cottage with their daughters, then-5-year-old Caitlin and 3-year-old Samantha. On the drive home, the girls bawled because they didn’t want to leave the lake. “If they’re crying now when there’s ice out there, what are we going to do in the summer?” Shelly says she remembers thinking.
20 | ENCORE JULY 2018
Southwest Michigan's Magazine: How a devastating fire fueled the success of Pine Lake Parts; award-winning filmmaker Nathan Ginter; meet an...