Last March, Phil and Cindy Watson purchased 10 acres north of Lakeside Village along Highway 4, where construction is underway on a sales and service building and two storage buildings. They purchased Panorama Marine from Lyn Coulter last fall. Until the new buildings are done, the Watsons have a month-to-month lease with the LPA for the existing sales and service building at the marina.

Phil and Cindy Watson are working to ensure a smooth transition.

By Susan Thompson | Lake Panorama Times

The Lake Panorama Association (LPA) began operating a small marina in 1970. Over the next few years, it was leased to four different operators, but none lasted. That changed in the summer of 1982 when Lyn Coulter and his brother, John, leased the gas dock from the LPA for $1. The agreement called for the pair to stock the dock with some basic marine accessories and keep consistent business hours. 

Coulter Panorama Marine was founded in 1983 with the $7,000 profit from that first year running the gas dock. 

“When it came time to pay the $10,500 rent in December 1983, we didn’t have the funds to do it,” Lyn Coulter said in a 2022 interview. “The LPA board decided to forgive the rent that year but made it clear they would never forgive it again. Luckily, the business took off in 1984, and we never missed, or ever were late, on a lease payment.”

For the next 40 years, the LPA leased its marina facilities to Coulter Panorama Marine.

Panorama Marine offers a variety of boating accessories including skis, wake boards, tow ropes, inflatables and life jackets, with more products expected as the business becomes fully stocked.

“Lyn Coulter and the entire Coulter team have been a critical part of Lake Panorama’s success,” says John Rutledge, LPA general manager. “In many ways, Lake Panorama and Coulter Panorama Marine grew up together. I am grateful for the trusted relationship that existed between the Coulter team and our LPA staff.”

The 2024 season brings new marine owners and a new lease. Phil Watson Jr. and his wife, Cindy, purchased Panorama Marine from Lyn Coulter last fall. On Sept. 26, the LPA board of directors approved a 2024-2028 lease between LPA and Watson for operation of the LPA-owned marina.

“I think it’s essential for the LPA membership to know Lyn Coulter and Phil Watson worked hard to ensure a smooth transition for the LPA membership and the marina staff,” Rutledge says. “Transitions like this are complex and have the potential to be a bumpy ride. Thanks to Lyn and Phil for all their work to provide a seamless transition. LPA is very grateful.”

Phil Watson Jr. has a lifelong connection with Lake Panorama. His parents, Phil and Judy Watson, purchased a house at Lake Panorama in 1972, the year he was born. The couple still owns that home in Hughes Cove. While the family’s fulltime home is in Indianola, Watson has many fond memories of his time growing up on the water. Some summers, he even worked at the marina gas dock. 

Cindy Watson grew up in Early in northwest Iowa and is a trained dental hygienist. In 2006, Phil was working at a boat show when one of the sales reps asked if he’d be interested in going on a blind date with Cindy. Two years later, he proposed to her on Lake Panorama in his parents’ 1985 Century Resorter boat. They soon married and now live in Polk City. They have three daughters, ages 14, 12 and 9, who attend North Polk Community Schools. 

After high school graduation in Indianola, Phil Watson attended Southwest Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is also the location of the first Bass Pro Shop and where Watson got his start selling boats to customers. Next came a boat sales job in Kansas City. 

In 1999, Watson took a sales job with Water’s Edge Marine, which was located in Johnston. He was the company’s sales manager for two years before purchasing the business and moving it to Polk City in 2011. Cindy Watson joined the business in 2017, helping with bookkeeping, benefits and other human resources duties. She now does the same at Panorama Marine. 

In December 2022, the Watsons sold Water’s Edge to Hicklin Power Sports. 

“My dream has always been to have a boat shop at Lake Panorama,” Phil says. “Last March, I started looking for property here and purchased 10 acres north of Lakeside Village along Highway 4.” 

Construction began on the site last fall with three buildings partially completed before work was halted. Because of some technical and structural issues, those buildings were removed in late February, and reconstruction is underway. 

The main L-shaped building will be 17,000 square feet and include both sales and service. The climate-controlled showroom will be large enough to have about 30 boats on display. A dock system will allow customers to browse among the boats without climbing up and down. There will be six service bays. Two boat storage buildings will be built this year, with additional storage buildings possible in the future. 

Once the new buildings are complete, a service road will be built on Watson’s property that will lead to the marina. This will make it possible to move boats between the lake and the service and storage buildings without using Highway 4. 

Watson thinks the 2024 boating season will be winding down before Panorama Marine can move into the new buildings. In the meantime, the Watsons have a month-to-month lease with the LPA for the current sales and service building near the gas dock. 

No decisions have been made on the future of the existing sales and service building. 

“LPA will review that with the Watsons once they have moved to their new location,” says Rutledge. “Any changes to the building will include plans to ensure boaters are provided a modern, indoor bathroom for their use while visiting the gas dock or slips.”

Boat lines carried by Coulter’s will continue to be carried by Watson and include Mastercraft, Four Winns, Godfrey pontoons and Kawasaki jet skis. A new line of pontoons, Barletta, will be added. Honda and Volvo motors will continue to be serviced, plus Mercury motors will be added to the service list. 

Panorama Marine will continue to offer VW brand docks and Shore Station lifts. 

“We’ll also offer all the same sorts of boating accessories Lake Panorama customers are used to, plus we’ll bring in new options as we get fully stocked,” Watson says. 

All employees who worked for Lyn Coulter had the opportunity to join Watson’s organization. 

“Everyone stayed, which is great and will help this be a seamless transition,” Watson says. “These guys have years of hands-on knowledge and experience here at Lake Panorama.” 

Scott Kemble is the Panorama Marine sales manager. Brian Dorsett is the service manager. Mike Webb, Mike Mobley and Justin Boettcher continue as service techs. One new hire, Ethan Hawkins, will attend training to work on Mercury motors. 

Nate Sheesley, who worked for the Watsons as service manager at Water’s Edge, has joined Panorama Marine as the service writer/parts manager. His wife’s parents, Dave and Ruth McNamara, have owned a home on Christmas Tree Point since the 1990s. 

The sales and service building now is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and closed Sunday. 

The Panorama Marine gas dock will be staffed Memorial Day to Labor Day with the same hours as past years. Watson plans to add a “pay at the pump” option that will make it more convenient for boaters to get gas during off hours or early spring and late fall. 

Watson says those who had Coulter’s service and stored their boats last fall can count on Panorama Marine to get their boats out of storage and connect with their owners just as the case has been for many years. The same is true for customers who routinely have the marina staff remove lift canopies in the fall and reinstall those in the spring. 

“We think communication is key,” Watson says. “We’ve increased the number of phone lines coming into the main office and have voice mail so, if someone calls after hours, they can leave a message and we’ll call them back.” 

The phone number for Panorama Marine remains the same — 641-755-2920. A new website includes photos and information on all new and pre-owned boats, pontoons and personal watercraft. The website is

“I’ve been in the marine business for 27 years,” Watson says. “We’re excited to be here, and we look forward to taking care of our customers. This is going to be a lot of fun.”

All employees who worked for Lyn Coulter had the opportunity to join Watson’s organization. Everyone stayed, plus two people have been added to the team. Shown left to right, Scott Kemble, sales manager; Brian Dorsett, service manager; Mike Mobley, Mike “Spud” Webb and Justin Boettcher, service techs. New hires are Ethan Hawkins, who will attend training to work on Mercury motors, and Nate Sheesley, service writer/parts manager.