Two local marina operators are working to unify boat rental businesses at Smith Mountain Lake with the goals of improving the industry and protecting customers.

This past month, Jeff Prowse, owner of Mitchell’s Point Marina and SML Boat Rentals, joined with Bridgewater Marina partner Ryan Waters to create the Smith Mountain Lake Boat and Watersports Rental Association. They welcome other the lake’s boat rental businesses to join the group as well.

With boat rentals growing in popularity, Prowse said he and Waters decided it was time to create the association. “It’s such a large industry,” Prowse said. “We thought we needed something more formal.”

The goal of the association is to provide businesses engaged in boat rental operations on the lake with a unified voice in the protection, enhancement and growth of the industry. Prowse said, through the combined efforts of the rental businesses, they can work together and take an active role in shaping policy and regulations that could impact rental operations.

Prowse said a rental business that’s a member of the SML Boat and Watersports Rental Association also lets customers know that the business is properly insured, in compliance with state and federal laws and abides by the guidelines of the association.

It can help customers distinguish which businesses are doing things the right way and which ones are “just a money grab,” Prowse added. “There are more boat rentals on this lake than you could imagine. We are sold out almost every week.”