ABBRA – American Boat Builders & Repairers Association

2014 Conference Agenda

ABBRA’s Annual Conference is designed to help our members solve common business problems and plan for the future by providing reliable information about industry issues, discussion about best business practices, networking opportunities with peers, and an overview of new technology and methods in the boatyard industry.

2014 Boatyard Business Conference Schedule At-A-Glance

“Reflect. Rethink. Refocus: Business Leadership for Tomorrow’s Boat Building & Repair Industry”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

12 P.M. Registration Opens

12 – 3 P.M. ABBRA Board Meeting /Annual Mtg.

4:00 – 5:30 P.M. Pre-Conference Roundtable: “The Role and Use of Regional Marine Industry Baseline Economic Studies: The South Florida Case Study” Tom Murray, Economist – College of William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Kristina Hebert, President – Marine Industries Association of South Florida

6 – 8 P.M. Welcome Cocktails Reception (Sponsored by My-Villages–DockMaster Software)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

8:00 A.M. Registration

8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Marketplace Open/ Networking (Sponsored by Lumishore, USA)

9:00 – 10:45 A.M. General Session: “The Practical Application of ‘Reflect, Rethink, Refocus’ for Your 2014 Business Plan” Mark Lindsay, Principal – Boston BoatWorks/MJM Yachts and Scott Smith, Partner – Boston BoatWorks/MJM Yachts

  • Welcome
  • ABBRA Updates
  • Speaker/Panel Presentation

The new paradigm in business over the past few years dictates a fundamental review of the core beliefs and strategies that were key to your success as a boatyard or boat builder over the years. This of course should be done within the context of staying true to business culture, products and services while maintaining a focus on the ultimate objective – profitability. ‘The Practical Application of “Reflect, Rethink & Refocus” for Your 2014 Business Plan’ offers an honest look at the experiences of Boston Boat Works as the exclusive builder for MJM Yachts and shares how and why we believe our vision is clear, our strategy focused and why our success will be the direct result of a renewed purpose. In this session you will hear practical ideas that you can implement when you really reflect, rethink and refocus.

10:45 – 11:15 A.M. Refreshment Break and Networking in Marketplace (Sponsored by PierVantage)

11:15 – 12:15 P.M. Round Table Discussions (Choose One – Sign-up at Registration)

  • Business Development & Marketing“What Boaters Want… Attracting New Business, Managing the Customer Experience” Joy McPeters, President/CEO - Marinalife

Boaters are now more demanding and informed than ever, so it is critical that marinas and boatyards know their customer and use every available resource to keep them happy. We will look at how important current customer referrals are to attracting new business and ways to increase these referrals. We will discuss using traditional and online/mobile tools to help communicate with existing customers and to attract new customers. We will explore the growth of social media and how it can be used to your advantage to help keep your customers informed while also building a new customer base.

  • Operations: “Improving Profitability and Operating Efficiency” Bob Schwartz, Moderator – Performance Incorporated

Boatyards and boat building operations succeed or fail not only on the basis of  the quality of their workmanship or product, but on the how efficient they are managed, and ultimately how profitable they can be. The multiple pressures of the average business are expanded to include significant regulatory and legislative burdens and the ability to improve profitability and efficiency are keys to survival. This session will offer advanced thought analysis and ideas on how boatyards and builders should operate to achieve maximum success.

  • Environmental & Safety“Building Working Relationships with the EPA” – Curt Spalding, EPA Region1 Administrator; Michael Keyworth, General Manager – Brewer Cove Haven Marina; Kellie Crete, Safety & Loss Control Manager – Gowrie Group

This session will address the role that EPA plays in your business and how you might have an impact on what happens. The panel will cover how laws are created and the cascade of consequences for your industry-both good and bad. The session will describe for you how you can have a voice in what happens and how the regulations are applied to your business. The panel will help you to understand what role the state agency has in implementation of laws and regulations. The focus will be to help you become more proactive and effective in determining how your business is run. The panel will get to the bottom of how you can band together as an industry in your state to have a larger voice and a more common goal.

12:15 – 1:30 P.M. Lunch: “Translating Economic Indicators II” Chris Niles, Vice President – Wealth Management – UBS (Sponsored by Interlux/Awlgrip)

In a year of tepid economic growth, mixed job reports, bad government policies, Congressional Gridlock and a Government shutdown how can boatyard owners and operators understand the economic indicators and plan for their business for the future?

Christopher Niles, Vice President of Investments with Clarke-Niles Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services. Inc. offers a unique perspective and interpretation of economic data and indicators.  Expect a fresh and unvarnished analysis of what it all means to you.

1:30 – 2:00 P.M. Networking in Marketplace (Sponsored by ValvTect Marine Fuel)

2:00 – 3:45 P.M. General Session: “Charting a Course for Preserving Your Legacy” Tracy J. Mandart, AWMA, Managing Director – Regent Financial Service; Louis Balbirer, CPA – Kaufman Rossin & Co.; Adi Rappoport, Attorney – Gunster Law Firm; Kit Johnson, PhD – Family Business Consultant

Charting a Course for your Legacy is a discussion between the panelists and audience on issues, strategies and activities to help business owners preserve and transfer wealth. Each panelist will make a brief opening statement followed by an extended question and answer session. The panelists consider business building and exit strategies by sharing the experiences of others, legal and tax considerations, and the emotional considerations of those decisions. We will address the ongoing management of assets following the conversion from business ownership to passive investing to support lifestyle needs. 

4:30 P.M. Marketplace Closes

6:00 – 8:30 P.M. Cocktail Reception & ABBRA Annual Awards Dinner (Sponsored by Mirka Abrasives, Inc.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

8:00 – 9:00 A.M. Marketplace Open/Networking  (Sponsored by Gowrie Group)

  •  8:00 A.M.: Premier Sponsor Presentation – Erik Norrie, CEO – Sea Hawk Paints “The Importance of Good Communication Within Your Organization”
  • 8:30 A.M.: Premier Sponsor Presentation – Bob Beckley, VP Business Development – My-Villages, Inc. “The Boat Village: Redefining Service Coordination, Documentation and Information Access”

9:00 – 10:45 A.M. General Session: “Exporting Recreational Marine Products & Services” John Fitzgerald, President – Saunders Yachtworks and Julie Balzano, Export Development Director – NMMA

The National Marine Manufacturer’s Association has made exploring international markets a recent point of emphasis for the recreational marine industry.  As the NMMA Export Development Director, Julie Balzano presents a thorough summary of why exporting is important to a company’s profitability, what NMMA has learned and why these markets are attractive to American production companies.  John Fitzgerald will approach the international question from the perspective of the boatyard owner/operator.  How does the growth of international marine production and product export impact the small service business in America?  Additionally, exporting service is an increasingly important offering for many continental US businesses.  We will look at a couple of case studies to show how the logistics of moving parts and people can be manageable and why you may want to consider overseas customer support.

10:45 – 11:15 A.M. Refreshment Break and Networking in Marketplace (Sponsored by Marine Travelift)

11:15 – 12:15 P.M. Round Table Discussions (Choose One – Sign-up at Registration)

  • Regulatory: “NFPA 33 Changes-What You Need to Know” Jim Parks, Operations Manager – Lauderdale Marine Center; Ryan Watt, Business Development Manager – Duroair Technologies, Inc.; Greg Cahanin – Cahanin Fire & Code Consulting

Following up on his article published in the Summer Issue of Capstan, Jim Parks, Operations Manager of Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale, along with Gregory Cahanin, an experienced fire code expert, will provide the most recent update about the current revisions being undertaken for the NFPA 33 standard (the national fire code that regulates spray painting).  Joining them will be Ryan Watt, Business Development Manager for Duroair Technologies, Inc. who is also working with NFPA33 on the development of standards for the new chapter for soft wall enclosures.  Duroair is a leading manufacturer of retractable soft wall enclosures, the topic of the new chapter being developed for NFPA33.  The panel will also introduce and discuss the latest technology, Smart Seam.

  • Operations“Reader’s Digest Version of General & Product Liability Insurance” Larry Keefe, Executive Vice President – Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage, Inc. and Mark Houck, Managing Partner – Chartwell Law Offices, LLP


  • Environmental & Safety“Building Working Relationships with OSHA” Michael Keyworth, General Manager – Brewer Cove Haven Marina; Kellie Crete, Safety & Loss Control Manager – Gowrie Group

This session will help you to navigate through the many OSHA Regulations that you should be in compliance with. We will outline the difference between a delegated state, Federal OSHA and state OSHA Consultation programs.   Safety Checklists, Written Programs, Training and Record Keeping forms and guidelines will be provided.  The panel will discuss the reasons why inspections occur and provide you with some tools to prevent them.   We encourage you to bring questions that we hope to answer, problems that need solutions, and your own experiences to the table. You will leave this session better prepared and equipped for compliance.

12:15 – 1:30 P.M. Lunch: “Ethanol, Ultra Low Sulfur & BioDiesel……The Good, Bad, Ugly and Solutions John McKnight, VP/Director, Environmental & Safety Compliance – NMMA and Jerry Nessenson, President – ValvTect Marine Fuel (Sponsored by International Boatlift Exchange, Inc.)

This presentation will review the U.S government’s objectives, support production, and required use of renewable fuels such as Ethanol, Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and BioDiesel.  It will discuss the problems and solutions boaters face and the impact to the marine industry.

1:30 – 2:00 P.M. Marketplace Closes

2:00 – 3:45 P.M. Closing General Session: “Leadership at the Edge” Jillian Murphy, Director of Client Services – The Syncretics Group

The Leadership at The Edge presentation recounts the saga of legendary Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. On December 5, 1914, Shackleton and 27 men sailed from South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean aboard a wooden vessel named the Endurance. Their ambitious goal was to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent.

Forty five days after their departure, disaster struck. Endurance was beset by solid pack ice, and the expedition was trapped. For nearly two years, Shackleton and his crew were stranded in the icy sea. They endured unimaginable hardships: brutal cold, total darkness, incessant hunger, danger, and utter desolation. Facing these challenges with astonishing good cheer, Shackleton and his crew returned, without loss of life, after 634 days in the Frozen South.

How did Shackleton inspire his crew to such extraordinary levels of courage, unity, and commitment? The Leadership at The Edge presentation answers that question, and shares Ten Critical Strategies for Success—explaining how Shackleton’s leadership approach can be applied to challenges in today’s business environment. Leadership at The Edge incorporates videos and original photographs from the 1914-1916 expedition as well as updated footage, and is an engaging and powerful program that executives will remember for years to come.




If you’re still undecided, you don’t have to take our word for it that ABBRA’s conferences are worth your time and investment, here’s what some of last year’s attendees had to say:

“The conference was outstanding, lots of information shared on very pertinent topics.  BBY has been in business for 27 years and there is always something new to learn, especially in today’s environment.  There are obviously very dedicated folks behind the scenes that make it all possible and put tremendous effort into creating a top notch conference.  I would highly recommend attending!”

–Patricia Bennett, President, Bennett Brothers Yachts, Wilmington, NC

“I would encourage anyone who has the ability to attend the upcoming ABBRA Conference to do your best and attend. I went with my operations manager Mike Cheney and the two of us had a great time.  We learned an awful lot from some of the most experienced people in the marine industry.  I hope to see familiar faces and meet many new ones at this year conference. See you all there.”

– Adam Cooper, General Manager, Manchester Marine, Manchester, MA

You’ve Got Questions? We’ve got answers!

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