Tag Archives: marine repair software

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.

Marine Dealer Conference 2008

Reflections from the Marine Dealer Conference:
I have to admit something here. I was preparing for the worst. I had received some feedback from those that attended RVDA that the atmosphere was, well, depressing. The economy was front and center the reason for that. I was secretly preparing for a somber atmosphere at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo in Las Vegas last week. To my pleasant surprise the tone and mood was as upbeat as possible given the current global economic head winds we are facing. I can say with confidence that the recreational marine industry is facing what will be a challenging 2009 with both an optimistic and practical business attitude.

To be fair to our brethren in the RV industry, their conference took place at a slightly different time. The equity markets had just started their wild gyrations and the election was not over, thus creating a fair amount of political uncertainty. The financial uncertainty is still here, but at least now we know who our next president will be, and regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on most agree that 2009 is going to be tougher than 2008.

I would sum up the theme of the conference like this. “Yes” things are tough – now go out and sell something. Being a salesperson at heart, I loved this message. Many of the panel discussions centered on surviving and thriving in 2009. No punches were pulled; what we got was straight talk from industry experts from both the retail side and the manufacturing and finance side of the business.

Some of the highlights for me were as follows:

John Spader talked a lot about taking an active leadership role in our businesses and “managing enthusiasm”. He suggested that we ask the following questions:

1. Ask your team: “Do you believe that we have the right leadership team to get through these tough times?” If not ask them “why” and “what” would they change. Enlist their involvement.

2. Ask yourself “What am I doing to manage the enthusiasm of my team?” Body language is more powerful than words. Do you walk around moping and frustrated all day? If so that attitude will be reflected by your team as well.

3. “Are you filling sandbags or saving towns”? In other words, does what you do have meaning or are you just punching the clock. Get at the heart of how each and every person in your business feels about what they do. Are they empowered? Do they feel like they are making a difference?

In the “Learning to Thrive” segment: Service – both providing exemplary customer service and servicing customers’ boats profitably was a popular topic this year. Panelists from Pride Marine Group, Sail & Ski Center, Seattle Boat Works and Woodward Marine discussed best practices used in their businesses to help them not only survive but thrive in a difficulty economy. Alan Bohling from Seattle Boats told the group about his daily health reports. These are a series of reports generated from DockMaster that allow him to quickly access sales, utilization, expenses (e.g. special orders) and cash flow. We of course appreciated the mention.

The “Industry Giants” panel is always a popular discussion since it includes leaders from the industry’s primary manufacturers. Irwin Jacobs, Chairman of Genmar believes that the single biggest issue crippling the marine industry is retail financing. He stated that his firm has committed $800M to fund a financing arm of Genmar. Brunswick and Yamaha have also taken similar measures.

As a provider of technology solutions to the marine industry, there were two main takeaways for me:

1. Business management providers and internet service providers must align themselves more closely to provide a complete “end to end” solution for dealers, boatyards and marinas. Retail customers are using the internet more and more to search for products and services as well as transact business. I believe that marine businesses should be able to leverage the internet to search for boats, purchase accessories and parts, select transient slips, request services, rent boats and pay bills. To do this seamlessly and to make sure that customers are receiving relevant content from marine businesses, both internet and back-office providers will need to work more closely to cut down on duplication and double entry.

2. In this economy, business management solution providers will need to offer affordable solutions to marine operators. One way to accomplish this is to provide “web-based” access to business management software. This can be done by utilizing hosting providers who have built businesses around hosting applications for businesses of all sizes. This will keep the recurring cost of maintaining software down for everyone in the supply chain, allowing marine operators to focus on their business and not on computers and networks.

Contact: cam@dockmaster.com

Marketing Opportunities in a Challenging Economy: The Internet Channel

Written by Cam Collins / August 21, 2008

Everyday we receive headlines from various “channels” print media, television, radio and the web talking about how our financial markets are crumbling. As of this writing, it was a little over a year ago that the global credit crunch began. The mortgage business was struggling with steep losses, and the troubles were spreading throughout the credit markets.

Since then, the economy has ground almost to a halt, the housing market has become moribund, and federal officials have resorted to extraordinary means to keep the banking sector afloat.

As goes the mortgage and real estate business, so goes the recreational marine industry. At least once per week we hear news of another financial institution pulling out of the marine business. With so much debt on their books and a federal mandate (FDIC) to have a liquidity ratio of 2.5 times that of debt, banks are struggling to provide recreational marine buyers with the financing they need to indulge their habit on the water.

As the saying goes, “North Americans will find a way to recreate.” Whether it’s boating on the weekend with the family, or playing Texas Hold’em by a campfire, we Americans love our time away from work and prefer to spend it with family and friends. It is well documented in marine industry publications that boat buyers are becoming savvier and using the internet as a tool to locate the right boat at the right place. How much should a marine dealer or repair facility spend on print media, television/radio ads and internet advertising? This rhetorical question obviously depends upon the location of your business, the demographics of your buyer and the state of the economy in your geographic area.

When I ask our boat dealers, boatyard operators and marina managers “how’s business?,” the answers are as varied as the businesses themselves. Some of our customers who are focusing on a specific boat line or a particular type of customer are actually seeing growth and others are having an off year. The beauty of the internet is that business operators can reduce expense while developing a deeper and more focused relationship with their customer by using the internet and Customer Relationship Management techniques.

As of December 2007, there were 238M internet users in North America. The Pew Internet and American Life Project classified the following activities for these users as follows:


This is Part 1 in a series of posts called The Internet Channel. In future posts I will explore ways that our customers and companies outside of the marine industry have been able to cultivate customer relationships using the internet in conjunction with more traditional tools.

Since “e-mail” reigns supreme as the most used communication medium for everyday activity, my second post in this series will be entitled Part 2: Using E-mail to Communicate with Customers and will be published in October.

Megayacht Marinas Not Hit by Economic Rough Spots

By Arlene Satchell
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 14, 2008

South Florida megayacht marina expansion and redevelopment projects are staying on course despite the tough economic times.

While the entry-level boat sector has been hit hard by the ailing economy, all signs are pointing to continued growth in the high-end category.

Boatyards and marinas are injecting millions to renovate and expand to better accommodate luxury boats 80 feet or more in length.

In 2006, 1,500 megayachts visited South Florida, up from 800 in 1997, according to a 2007 report commissioned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and industry partners. And more of these luxury vessels are expected during the next winter boating season.

Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale is expecting to open its new megayacht dockage and repair facility within 60 days, general manager Mark Pratt said.

The centerpiece of an 18-acre, $40 million expansion, the area has covered work space for yachts up to 185 feet and heavier lifts to pull them ashore for maintenance and repairs.

“Boatyards are our core business and are important to the future of the industry,” said Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.

In 2006, megayacht repair and maintenance work in the area had an estimated economic impact of $219.8 million. The big boat visits also generated $152.6 million in brokerage and charter commissions.

West Palm Beach’s Rybovich Marina is undergoing a $15 million upgrade that’ll add 7,000 linear feet of new floating and fixed docks for yachts up to 300 feet long.

A recreational area with fitness center, pool, basketball court and lounge will give customers a resort feel, Rybovich Vice President George Whitehouse said.

Last year, Rybovich completed the first part of the renovation, which included a new 40,000-square-foot repair center and service slips for yachts up to 275 feet.

The upgrades at this service marina will help put Palm Beach County on the map for megayachts, Whitehouse said.

Work will begin this summer on the new Pier 17 Marina & Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale, following approval of the site plan in May, project manager Brad Tate said.

Pier 17 is being built on the grounds of the old Summerfield Boat Works, which closed two years ago.

The private marina will feature 22 covered and four uncovered wet slips for yachts 80 feet to 155 feet long, and a clubhouse, captain and crew lounge, swimming pool and fitness center.

Boat slips featuring garages and storage areas are priced at $15,000 and $24,000 per linear foot, depending on yacht size.

Ten slips already have been sold, but sales have slowed in the past eight months as the economy worsened, director of sales Steve Fill said.

In North Palm Beach, Old Port Cove Marina’s South Basin is getting a $15 million facelift that includes hardwood floating docks and larger slips to better accommodate yachts 80 feet to 250 feet in length.

“There just hasn’t been a place for them [megayachts] this far north,” marina spokeswoman Sue Morgan said.

As megayacht construction grows, South Florida marinas are shoring up their competitive edge.

In 2007, 770 yachts from 75 feet to more than 136 feet were built worldwide, compared with 223 in 1997, the marine association’s report said.

Aqua Marine Partners of Hollywood is awaiting city approval of the Vertical Yacht Club Marina Mile megayacht complex in Fort Lauderdale. Work is expected to begin there in January.

The dry storage marina will house 46 boats up to 85 feet long in individual climate-controlled suites.

Marinas with indoor boat slips are becoming commonplace as new waterfront dock space is increasingly harder to find.

“We’re excited to get it moving as we’ve already had a few pre-opening leases signed,” spokesman John Ross said.

One marina project, however, has hit a snag.

Naples-based BoatClubsAmerica had planned to transform Jackson Marine into the new Fort Lauderdale BoatClub offering megayacht and small boat slips for sale and clubhouse amenities, including deli, gym, resort-style pool and tiki bar.

Construction is on hold, but the marine continues operating with seven tenants.

Permits for the $50 million renovation were finalized in December just as “the economy jumped into a paralyzing new chapter,” spokeswoman Kelly Ruff said.

Building in Quality: An Implementation of the Agile Software Development Process

Software as a tangible asset is misunderstood by many. Unlike a car or a toaster that people can touch, hear, smell and feel; software is a component in a rather complex system. Although one might look at a car, toaster or any other fixed asset as something that gets stamped out of a factory. There are many similarities in the traditional manufacturing process; and the software development and release process. Let’s use cars as an example. Like software, cars evolve. Look at the evolution of the Ford Mustang for instance.

The “Pony Car” as it was later coined was something that nearly everyone felt attracted to. The Mustang was advertised as “the car to be designed by you”. Given this premise, the Mustang was bound to evolve. As demographics change and the car buying tastes of Fors’s customers evolve, the Mustang was designed from the beginning to evolve as well.

From its beginning in the latter half of 1964 up to today, the Ford Mustang has evolved as has the 60 million or so baby boomers that have grown up right along with it. The 1964 was available in only two models: the coupe and convertible. These were the glory years, with the introduction of the Fastback and GT models in 1965, the Shelby GT-350 and Mach 1 in 1966, and the GT/CS California Special in 1968. In 1969 the Mustang became bigger and heavier.

Ensuing generations of Mustangs have either added to the legend or diminished it. The bad years are considered to be from 1974 until the early 1980s whereby Mustang’s sporty image fell victim to the fuel crisis of late 1973 and increased safety standards. The Mustang made a come back in the 1990s when it began to go back to its sporty and horsepower packed roots. The evolution continued in 2005 when Ford re-invented the classic Pony Car styling with a Mustang that harkened back to their late 1960’s success.

The development of software is an evolutionary process. What starts off as an interesting software idea or web-application can morph into something that takes on a life of its own. There are countless examples in the enterprise software world of products that have grown so large that the cost of maintaining these systems often times outweighs the benefits of using them.

Large enterprise class software systems also evolve as technology improves and customers’ needs change. Like a manufacturing company, software companies must manage growth as well as demographic, economic and geopolitical changes through a defined development process.

Since the beginning of 2007, Exuma has undergone a transition away from Software as an Art to Software as a Discipline. What I mean by this is that we searched for and have adopted a software development process that will allow us to be flexible enough to meet customer needs, but be rigid enough to improve quality. These standards are collectively known as the Agile Software Process.

Fundamentally, Agile affords us the ability to build and test in quality by focusing on a finite number of enhancements and bug fixes in short cycles. These cycles, known as sprints allow software development teams to prioritize bug fixes and enhancements; collectively known as “backlog” into a manageable list that can be developed, tested and deployed in a short period of time. Sprints can be broken up into 1 to 4 week segments, whereby the team will focus on a manageable number of backlog items without interruption from other department. Figure 1 (click here) outlines the basic Sprint cycle.

A team of developers and QA personnel are assigned to a sprint cycle. One of the team members is designated as the sprint leader. The rest of the development and QA staff provide support for the rest of the company including, Support Services, Client (Training) Services, etc.

The non-sprint team members are the only ones permitted to contact the sprint team lead. This keeps the level of distractions coming into development at a minimum. Developers outside of the sprint team will provide “support” for the rest of the company on programming issues.

Once the sprint team completes its changes and tests its individual components the software gets “built”, meaning the entire product suite, including various interfaces, get compiled into a machine readable language that can be used by an end user. Builds are typically done at least once per week and as often as once every 24 hours.

Once the software is built the quality assurance (QA) team begins their series of tests. Programmers typically test their code on a functional level within the module that they are working in. QA does what is called System and Regression Testing.

System testing is a process whereby a series of functions are performed to test their effect on the entire system. To use a DockMaster, rather than just testing if the decimal time function works correctly in time clock entry, a system test may include creating a work order, entering time from time clock, entering time from time card, entering time at the WO and then billing the work order. Once billed the system tester may look at the accounting or journal transactions to make sure they are accurate.

Regression Testing is when test results from the latest release are compared to the results of a previous release. Using our example below, the QA person may run the exact same test on a previous release and then compare the time entries and journal information. These tests are typically automated using test scripts.

A sprint cycles does not necessarily correlate to a release cycle. For instance, there may be 2 or more sprint cycles before a release is produced. For instance, if a sprint is broken down into a one week cycle, a software company may have the following builds:

4.2.62C – Release candidate
4.2.63D – Release candidate

Although there were four builds in 4.2.63, only 4.2.63D was a release candidate and pushed to system testing, then general release once it passes.

By getting the entire company to adhere to this new development methodology we have realized the following benefits:

1. Higher quality which leads to fewer bugs and support calls
2. Better documentation which reduces ambiguity in the product
3. Quicker time to market for new features and enhancements

For further reading on the subject check out:
Controlled-Chaos Software Development
DSDM Consortium
Introduction to Best Software Writing