ABBRA – American Boat Builders & Repairers Association

Annual Symposium


Join us for the only conference designed by boatyard operators for boatyard operators…. addressing the issues important to boat builders and repairers.

Innovate, Integrate, Motivate … the art and science of business.

The ABBRA Annual Meeting & Symposium focuses on the issues that affect boat building, refit, repair, and service companies. It provides an opportunity to build relationships with other professionals that share common interests and challenges. It is designed to promote professionalism in our industry, inspire you to consider necessary changes to improve productivity and determine what you can do today that will have a positive impact on the future of your business. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain some new knowledge, insights and network with your peers from around the country!

Tuesday Jan. 22, 2019 – 6 pm to 9 pm

Annual Meeting, ABBRA Awards, Marine Service Managers Awards & Cocktail Party

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 – 8 am to 5 pm



Bending the Rules = Progress | Richard Downs-Honey

Groundbreaking innovations happen at the leading edge of sports. For us this is America’s Cup and offshore powerboats. Examples of innovations in these fields will be used to illustrate how important it is to bend (if not break) the rules to make progress. The collective desire to win ensured that change would happen. To integrate innovation into your business you need the same willingness to accept change. Motivated, committed, team members will deliver success, which encourages acceptance of change. They will motivate themselves. You need only remove roadblocks, and support those who fail …. because their next idea might be a winner!

Critical Thinking and Innovation – The New High-Ranking Business Skills Necessary for Success | Tom Allen

Experience is the best teacher and lessons learned from experience are the most valuable. This interactive session presented by Tom Allen for operators and managers in the business of building and repairing boats. Kittery Point Yacht Yard (KPYY) was given ABBRA’s Boatyard of the Year 2017 and the Innovation Award in 2011. ABBRA recognizes Tom Allen as an industry expert and a critical thinker with the proven ability to empower a productive team and operate a successful business against the odds. He will share his insights about resource planning, communication, succession planning, and creating a financial management culture in your business. Come prepared to share your questions and thoughts as we talk about solutions to common business problems.

The Integrated Workforce of 2020: Diversity is the Key | Katie Spiker

Katie is the Senior Policy Advisor for the National Skills Coalition (NSC). NSC organizes broad-based coalitions seeking to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. In this session Katie will inform you of legislation and policies that will help small businesses solve their workforce challenges and will talk about what she believes is important for businesses to consider in today’s competitive business climate…. why data is important, hiring practices and diversity, immigration and skills policy, integration of traditional and modern culture patterns in the workplace, locally influencing career and technical education choices in secondary schools.

Good Alligator Wrestlers are Hard to Find | Steve Kitchin

Securing and retaining talent in today’s labor market might seem like wrestling alligators to most employers. The challenges of changing demographics, rapid developments in technology and the need to deliver a superior customer experience all need to be met by marine industry employees. This session will outline the current state of the labor market and how employers can meet these challenges with success. Please join Steve Kitchin, Vice President of Corporate Education and Training at New England Institute of Technology for an informative, interesting and innovative conversation about searching for and retaining the “good alligator wrestlers” that your business needs to grow and succeed.

Law at the Waterline | Ben Ford

The interweaving of local, state, and federal law can make doing business tough in any industry. But that confusion is especially acute were the land meets the sea. Depending on where it happened, there are three separate sets of laws that could apply when a worker gets injured at a marina. The law that protects the design of the dock is not the same as the law that protects the boat tied to it. The law that governs a contract to build a boat is different than the law that governs the repair of the exact same boat. Many land-based lawyers miss aspects of the law that apply to marine businesses. Join Attorney Benjamin Ford for a discussion about the marine legal landscape and some potential issues to discuss with your current legal advisors.

The Future Face of Boat Building and Repair | Jessica Parker, Wendy Goodwin, Nadia Williams, Ben Ford – Moderator

Jessica, Wendy and Nadia have a lot in common. As young women, they are a minority in the industry, and they are preparing to operate businesses that have been operated by their families for many years.

Ben Ford will moderate a conversation with these women and will be help them delve into their vision for the future of their companies while honoring the foundation built by their families. How will they deal with the speed of change and technology in the workplace? What are their greatest leadership challenges and what kind of leaders they would like to be? What does the trend for businesses to be more socially and environmentally conscious mean to them?

Their unique perspectives will be enlightening and inspiring. There is hope for the future!

Who should attend? This event is designed for business owners, operators and managers

LOCATION: Pier Sixty-Six Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, FL

The ABBRA Annual Meeting & Symposium will take place at Pier 66 Hotel & Marina – one of Fort Lauderdale’s premier hotel/marina complexes. A special discounted room rate of $189/night is available to Symposium attendees and will be honored during the event and (as available) for 2 nights before and 2 nights after the event.

For Details & Registration – Please Click HERE