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Meet Mike Silberhorn - ahem, Dick McKee - Creative Awesomeness of Marker Nine

If you ask Mike Silberhorn (ahem…that’s Dick McKee to those of you who know him best), he’ll tell you straight: the perfect day starts with easing through Sarah’s Creek on his boat with his feet kicked up, Natty Light in hand (wrapped in a Marker Nine coozie, of course) and wife and three kiddos by his side.

And that’s exactly what Marker Nine is all about…family, laid back, coastal living.

Although born in Radford, VA, Mike was raised in Gloucester, VA, birthplace of Marker Nine the company and the Channel Marker Nine that inspired it all.

His Dad – Dr. Gene Silberhorn – was a renowned Marine Botanist at William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science. All that time around the salt water exposed Mike to the water at an early age.

His first boat was a skiff…that he got when he was 6. 

After graduating from Gloucester High School, he went on to pursue a degree at Lenoir-Rhyne University, a small school in Hickory, NC.

Mike loves the mountains today, but even as a teenager, he had salt water in his veins and returned back to Hampton Roads to finish his degree in Business Management at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

After college, Mike launched a painting company, which he ran for 15 years, helped a friend open a bait and tackle store and eventually began working in the floor installation business, which is his full time job today.

When we say Marker Nine feels deeply about family it’s because it was founded by family. Co-founder Rudy Heinatz is Mike’s brother in law.

Most of the Marker Nine designs were first sketched with pencil and paper by Mike.

Mike has always enjoyed sketching. “I used to get in trouble in school all the time for drawing instead of doing school work.”

His art takes many forms. From sketching to working with his hands and building things. If you visit his home, an old farmhouse built in 1861, you’ll find vintage gas station signs, old gas pumps, a boat transformed into a playground for his children, an old camper he restored and lastly, a 1986 Jeep Wagoneer, which happens to be the inspiration behind the popular Woody design.

What inspires Mike? Anything and everything.

“Something will pop into my head or I’ll see something that sparks an idea so I’ll jot it down or draw a quick sketch and save it for later,” said Mike. “You can’t force it, you have to wait until the ideas start flowing and when they do, everything comes together.”

Mike says his favorite Marker Nine design is the Sport Fishing Boat.

“It’s a boat and I love boats!”

There are always new designs in the works and Mike is currently working on a sailboat sketch and tossing around the idea of boat and duck shoes, which he thinks would be a crowd pleaser.

And that crowd can be all over. Because you see, Mike said, “Marker Nine can be anywhere, from Massachusetts to Florida…it’s not just one area. It’s wherever you want it to be.”


“I just like Sarah’s creek right there where the actual marker nine is. That’s where we came up with the name because I can’t tell you the number of hours of days I’ve spent there, heck probably years just sitting there in the chair, people pull up and you see them and talk to them. Some days we have 10 boats out there and some days, it’s just you. That’s the awesome part about it.”


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