South Florida Intercoastal

Lori Wheeler Visits Great Lakes Boat Building School

By: MIASF Staff

Date posted: Aug 19, 2022 Fri

Vice President of MIASF, Lori Wheeler, visited the Great Lakes Boat Building School in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a 12,000 sq foot waterfront facility located along the northern shore of Lake Huron in the Lew Cheneaux Islands. The locally funded school was started 16 years ago and is in the midst of a capital campaign to grow their facility to add more workers to the marine industry workforce. Their long-term plan is to build a second 10,000 sq ft building to expand enrollment and the ability to develop additional curriculum tracks.
During her visit, she was able to witness the students in full work mode, where they are trained to restore, build, service, bid projects, and are also taught soft skills. Focused mainly on wooden boats, the school is partnered with Mercury Marine and engaging with American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) for specific certifications. GLBBS has also developed a Marine Service Technology program and in Fall 2024 will introduce a Marine Electronics program, the first of its kind in the nation. All of the comprehensive programs are popular with full enrollment and a wait list. Tuition is in the $22,000 range plus board and miscellaneous fees. It’s a one-year course, over three semesters, and in their words, “1 promising career”.  While most of their students are from the Michigan/Great Lakes area, they do boast an occasional international student and an average of 30% of each class are veterans.
Workforce development in the marine industry has always been a challenge and it is critical for the customer/boater to have reliable and knowledgeable service support to keep them in boating. From brokerage to the boatyard, the Great Lakes Boat Building School and their community has shown us the formula for success is passion, commitment, and time.