It started as a mobile service repairing boats, then grew into a backyard mechanic's shop on the family lifestyle block.

Now Marine Services Wanganui is a thriving business with 13 staff, a new showroom, and last year it had the largest sales in the North Island of Can-Am all terrain vehicles (ATV).

Jamie Newell, a specialist marine electrician, is now the "go-to guy" in the Rapanui Rd-based business started by his parents James and Jan about 20 years ago.

"It's still a family business but we've had quite a lot of changes and growth," Jamie says.

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"Our biggest growth has been in Can-Am ATVs and we're also pushing marine electronics.

"We're now selling dive gear and we're the only scuba diving and sport fishing specialist in Whanganui. Before that the closest dive shops were in New Plymouth and Kapiti. Diving is a growing sport off Whanganui - diving has grown dramatically here and around New Zealand."

Jamie is a keen diver and fisherman himself, with a recently-caught 4.6kg crayfish currently being mounted for display in the showroom.

As the name Marine Services suggests, boats remain a big part of the business. They cover customers in the area from New Plymouth across to Taihape and down to Wairarapa. Some servicing is done on site but most happens at the Rapanui Rd workshop.

"We service all brands of boats, outboards, inboards, two-strokes and four-strokes. Our biggest thing is trying to not have everyone asking us to service their boat in the week before Christmas so we try to get our customers to have servicing done during the winter."

The growing business now employs three fully qualified motorbike mechanics, two boat mechanics, a fulltime salesman who is out on the road, a marine electrician, a delivery person and office staff.

The Newell family's love of marine sports is reflected in the business's sponsorship of major fishing competitions and the Wanganui Surf Life Saving Club.