Captain's Chair: 2021, A Year to Remember
The holidays are in full swing. As in most parts of the world, families and friends are gathering in South Florida to celebrate this special time of year. One big difference when spending the holidays here, though, is that boating is a big part of the season.
Whether it’s a day fishing, exploring sandbars, or docking at any of our wonderful waterfront restaurants, families and friends are creating boating memories that will be treasured for years to come. We are blessed to have so many healthy, safe outdoor activities at our fingertips. Never has that been truer than this past year.
As we at the Marine Industries Association of South Florida prepare to wrap up our work for 2021, we’re also reflecting on the past 12 months. We’re counting our wins as we overcame obstacles thrown in our path by a virus that appears to have no backend.
Despite ongoing concerns, we celebrate that the marine industry remained open for business. Workers stayed on the job, businesses continued to serve customers, and the 62nd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show went off without a hitch. In fact, attendance is set to break a record for this year’s show. And new to the show this year, Short Shoot activated a Satellite Media Tour to broadcast live from the top of the MIASF Hospitality Lounge. This initiative reached 12 unique networks, including national networks like Fox & Friends, accounted for almost an hour of total air time, and garnered more than 2 million total views.
We’ve also been reflecting on giving back, not just this year but in the future. We’re extremely proud of plans to continue our work with Habitat for Humanity to build new homes for our community members in need. We’re also grateful our scholarship programs continued contributing to education expenses for students in the area. And best of all, we are grateful to our members and our partners who rolled up their sleeves for our back-to-school supply drive and stepped up with food and toy donations to share their blessings with their neighbors.
As we stand on the precipice of 2022, I look forward to building upon this momentum. While we can’t control the economy, it is reassuring to know that Florida is a proven, pro-business state. This attitude provides a solid base for continued growth. It is also what attracts and retains investors and end-users particularly in the marine industry.
Of course, this solid foundation doesn’t exempt us as an industry from working hard to ensure continued economic success in the coming year. Marine businesses must put the focus on attracting and retaining customers by providing exemplary service not just at the sale, but beyond. Our customers are more than just singular transactions, they are lifelong - and even multi-generational relationships that deserve to be nurtured.
A focus on our employees is also critical. We must keep our current workforce motivated and satisfied, so we don’t lose them to other industries. Attrition across industries is at an all-time high, and the marine industry isn’t exempt from this trend. The true cost of replacing a worker goes well beyond their salary.
Coming up with creative solutions to ensure worker satisfaction is a continuing priority in 2022. One solution MIASF implemented several years ago was a modified work schedule to accommodate a four-day workweek for every member of our staff. We’re still open Monday through Friday, but our employees work together to cover every day of the week. This flexibility is just one example of a solution that encourages employee retention, longevity and improves their lives.
We must put an emphasis on recruiting and mentoring the next generation of marine industry employees, too. Programs like our Yacht Service Technician Apprenticeship Program is one way to attract future superstars to the marine industry. If your business is not yet a part of this innovative program, we invite you to join us in 2022. Together, we can work as one to build a strong marine workforce for decades to come.
Just a few final thoughts as we move into the new year. Protecting a working waterfront must remain a top priority for all marine businesses. The threat of prime waterfront development is always lurking, and we as an industry must remain on alert. Our efforts must focus on getting it right. Making a mistake today or doing nothing at all, could result in unintended consequences for yards, marinas, and even FLIBS.
Likewise, our local infrastructure must keep pace with increasing population demand. Florida is the third largest state and Broward County is the sixth largest region in the U.S. The transportation status quo isn’t working anymore here, nor does it reflect our ever-growing stature. Whether we end up with a tunnel or a bridge, something must be done to ease congestion and promote future growth. Doing nothing is not the answer.
To be certain, there’s a lot of work to be done in the coming 12 months. We look forward to working together with all members, elected officials and the community to make 2022 a banner year for our marine industry.
I look forward to seeing you in the new year.