The Remedy!

In an earlier commentary we mentioned the 2006 Marina Drystack Conference scheduled to be held at Palm Beach Gardens. We were fortunate to be exhibitors at that conference and we attracted a good deal of attention because we demonstrated our storage and retrieval system prototype. This prototype is a transportable demo with three interchangeable racking systems. These interchangeable setups enable us to conduct demonstrations for warehousing operations, container terminal operations and for marina drystacking operations. The advantages offered to each of these industries are exactly the same, but the most important of the many benefits is that our patented system creates more capacity in less space, and this is why we were asked to appear at the Drystack Conference.

In recent months, real estate developers have begun purchasing marinas in order to build condominiums on precious waterfront acreage. A great many marina operators have succumbed to the lure of quick money and early retirement, and the loss of large numbers of both wet and dry slip facilities in Florida has alarmed community officials. The 2,000 marinas in that state attract large numbers of tourists (and taxpayers) annually, and the gradual reduction in boating facilities is having a negative effect on waterfront communities. It would be entirely accurate to assess the situation in that state as a crisis, and no one has been able to devise a way to stop the bleeding.

As an example, in FLORIDA TODAY, one small marina operator in Brevard County was quoted as saying, “Do I work seven days a week and all holidays, 14 hours a day, or do I take the $ 3 million and float in my pool? I can’t get permits to expand, and I can’t afford to run it.”

The upcoming 12 months would be a do-or-die time, this operator reasoned, because of the struggle to recover from recent devastating hurricanes. And further, as their insurance packages are cancelled and property taxes and supply prices shoot up, many marina operators have little choice but to consider those tempting offers from condominium developers to purchase their land.

We’ve since learned that Brevard County has lost over 50% of its public slips to condominium developers in recent years, and Florida officials now wringing their hands over the crisis are the very ones who unwittingly welcomed the gradual change because a greater tax base is provided by condo development. It all comes down to a lack of foresight, and now it’s time to pay the piper because no remedy seems to be at hand.

Ah, but there is a remedy. Our reception at the Drystack Conference was nothing short of remarkable. We were immediately acknowledged to be the solution to the waterfront space crisis because of our ability to retrofit our patented system into remaining boatyards, thereby increasing the storage capacities of these facilities. In addition, the increased numbers of clients will bring a higher profit margin to struggling marina operators who will then find themselves in a position to reject those tempting offers from condo developers.

Why the strong response from the boating industry as opposed to the rigid stance of port directors? Marina owners don’t have fat, guaranteed salaries, that’s why. They have to produce … or else.