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Charleston City Marina Wins International Award and Why this is Important for North America

On May 26, 2009 in Helsinki, Finland the Charleston City Marina was awarded the 2009 Jack Nichol Award for Design.  This international award is presented annually by PIANC in recognition of excellence in modern recreational marina design, and is named for the late renowned marina designer, Jack Nichol. Established in 1885, PIANC is an organization providing guidance and a forum where professionals can provide expert advice on cost effective, reliable and sustainable infrastructure, and facilitate growth of waterborne transport.

“After considerable discussion and evaluation of the applications,” states Elio Ciralli of PIANC, “the Charleston City Marina best represented the technical, functional, aesthetic and environmental award criteria.”

Robbie Freeman, Managing Partner of the Charleston City Marina adds, “With credit to Applied Technology & Management, our marina design consultant, The City Marina’s transformation has set many new standards for recreational facilities. It is truly an honor to receive this global recognition after years of ongoing improvements.”

The reason I say that this is important for North America is because the United States and Canada have a very large recreational marina community, most of which has been in use for many years.  In the large vessel and megayacht category, overseas marina projects seem to be getting a large portion of the media coverage. This is warranted because in many of these places, like the United Arab Emirates or Central America there is little marina infrastructure, so they can start fresh with the latest floating dock systems, “in-slip” high speed fuel systems and electronic pedestal devices.

In North America, there really aren’t many coastal areas where a new marina can come out of the ground. Therefore existing marinas must be re-built, thus displacing an already loyal customer base who utilizes the existing slips (berths) and marina amenities. However there are some shining examples of marina redevelopment projects that deserve attention. Two of them are just a few miles from the DockMaster offices: Old Port Cove Marina and Rybovich Shipyard and Marina.

Congratulations goes out to The Charleston City Marina for this well deserved recognition from the PIANC as a world class marina destination.

Promote A Cause You Believe In and Everyone Wins

Last week I received an e-mail from Paul Nickel, the President of Pride Marine Group in Ontario entitled “Boating for the Cure“. Most of the e-mail I receive from Pride pertains to DockMaster, so I must admit that I was intrigued. In the e-mail, Paul describes a fund raiser they are having on June 27th, 2009 to help fight breast cancer and prostate cancer. What I found refreshing was that Paul’s message did not come off as a promotional gimmick that masked a sales event inside of a fund raiser. Sure Pride Marine will benefit from the promotion they will receive by sponsoring this event. But the delivery was heartfelt and Paul openly described this in his e-mail by saying that he wants “to give back to those that are less fortunate or suffering”.

So here is my take on how promoting a cause and one that truly his meaning for you can be a win-win for everyone.

Find a cause you truly believe in and tell the story

Picking a cause to get behind simply because you think it will help sell boats or whatever it is you are marketing is a recipe for disaster. You’ve got to get behind something you are passionate about. Promote a cause that has affected you personally or someone you know. Your passion and drive will show through in not only how you promote your event or fundraiser, but your sincerity will come through during the process, stimulating creative ideas that will make the event meaningful.

Connect with people

Once you decide the cause you want to support, you’ve got to connect with your customers, friends, and the community at large; especially those effected by the affliction that you are trying to raise awareness for. In the case of Pride Marine Group, they partnered with Edgewater Boats and the Town of Gravenhurst.

Lead the Movement

To get the word out and generate excitement you’ve got to do what Paul did and make a personal commitment to the cause and the event. This goes beyond “marketing” whether you use traditional or web-based techniques, but it means that the business owner truly puts some skin in the game. In the case of Pride Marine Group, Boating for the Cure will be a one day event held on June 27th, 2009 in the format of a family boating rally around Lake Muskoka. Participants will be collecting treasure maps to guide their journey and tokens which will be turned in at the end of the day at an awards ceremony and reception. All monies raised by pledges from supporters will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Prostate Cancer Research Foundation in support of cancer research. The event is being paid for by Pride Marine, with sponsorship from Edgewater and the Town of Gravenhurst.

Make a compelling offer that truly adds value to your customers, the charity and the community

On top of the fund raiser being held on June 27th, Edgewater Boats will be running two special editions of their 145cc boat – one pink, one blue, to represent the fight against cancer. For every special edition “Boating for the Cure” 145cc sold, $1000 will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (pink boats) or the Canadian Prostate Research Foundation (blue boats). I am a prostate cancer survivor. If I were in the market for a 15′ boat, you’d better believe Edgewater would be at the top of my list. This is an enduring statement on the part of Edgewater in that once June 27th, 2009 has come and gone, these themed boats will live on as a symbol of one’s desire to stamp out a tragic illness.

If you are having a fund raiser that is tied to your business and would like us to promote it on www.marinemanagementtoday.com, please e-mail camsblog@dockmaster.com with more details.

Risk, Ambiguity and the Small Business Owner

Readers of this blog typically fall into two categories:

1). You are an owner/operator of a small business
2). You work for an owner/operator of a small business.

Most of these businesses happen to be in the recreational marine industry, an industry that has been hit especially hard by the current recession. What causes stress and anxiety in our professional lives? Typically, it’s “fear”. We fear what we don’t know or don’t understand. In a volatile economy, these fears are heightened because we can’t predict with any level of accuracy what’s around the corner. One’s ability to “predict the future” is never very accurate. However it’s not the risks inherent in our businesses that cause our blood pressure to rise, but it’s the inherent ambiguity in any entrepreneurial endeavor. One’s ability to contend with and manage ambiguity is the true test of the small business owner or entrepreneur.

The “risk” of running your own business

What keeps people from starting their own company or taking the entrepreneurial plunge? “I don’t think I can handle that much risk,” is what most people say. They are afraid to leave their “stable, comfortable” job, unaware of what awaits them when they step out of their office one last time.

In his interview with Inc., Good to Great and Built to Last author Jim Collins was asked by Bo Burlingham if entrepreneurs must inherently understand how to manage “risk”. Collins responded as follows:

“Not risk. Ambiguity. People confuse the two…. As an entrepreneur, you know what the risks are. You see them. You understand them. You manage them. If you join somebody else’s company, you may not know those risks, and not because they don’t exist.”

At a time when even giants from insurance and automotive industries are tethering on the brink of collapse, Collins couldn’t have made his point any clearer. Job security is a scarce commodity these days regardless of your industry. Ambiguity breeds opportunity.

Let’s say you were presented with two fists full of marbles. The right fist contains five red marbles and five blue marbles. The left fist also contains a total of 10 marbles, all of which are red or blue, but the number of red and the number of blue marbles is unknown. For instance there could be nine red and one blue, etc. Invariably, when given a choice of which fist to pick either a red or a blue marble out of, people chose the right fist. On the surface, making the choice that offers 50/50 odds seems obvious. In reality, one is just as likely to pick the correct-colored marble from the left fist, with an unknown mix of marbles.


This is known as the Ellsberg paradox. The right fist has a “risk” of 50/50. The left fist is “ambiguous” since you don’t know the odds. The preference to the “known” 50-50 risk is characterized as ambiguity aversion. In other words, people tend to “stick with the monster they know and avoid the monster they don’t”. The outcome is ambiguous.

What suits your personality and goals? You can choose to be your own boss or choose to support your boss. The choice is yours, but sitting on the sideline and complaining about the economy or management’s decision to make necessary (and often difficult) business changes is not an option.

Choosing to be your own boss

Taking the path of the self-employed takes guts. No doubt it’s a financial gamble. You might have to endure years earning income below what you’re used to, forcing yourself to live frugally and having to sacrifice your vacations. You would have to learn how to handle all aspects of your business, from convincing your investors to selling to your customers. But the trade off is gaining control over your company’s direction. You steer it where you want it to go. There will be problems, naturally, but you can learn to anticipate them and work out feasible solutions. You would no longer be at the mercy of superiors who call the shots. Best of all, you stand to reap the maximum reward for your efforts.

Choosing to support your boss

However, the fear of “sailing on your own” is not unwarranted. Approximately half of all new businesses are expected to close shop within five years from their establishment. And among those remaining, only a minority will turn out to be truly successful, creating a brand that caters to the needs of their target market.

Preferring to be pragmatic because you cannot afford (either financially or mentally) to be ambiguous, especially with regards to you and your family’s future, is a viable option. The best course of action at this point is to “be a light, not a critic”. Shine in the workplace. Put your heart and soul behind your endeavors. When financial times become more positive you will likely reap the benefits.

For boating enthusiasts; marinas, boatyards and boat dealerships can be thought of as a respite from the gloomy financial news or an unfulfilling career. Boaters “boat” to get away from the rat race. Your attitude and demeanor can make or break that experience for your customer. Regardless if you choose to pick your ball from the “risky” fist or the “ambiguous” fist, resilience is the virtue needed to thrive in this economy.