ABBRA – American Boat Builders & Repairers Association

Whiticar Boat Works of Stuart, Florida Named Boatyard of the Year by the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association

Four Other Industry Leaders in Florida, Rhode Island and North Carolina Receive ABBRA Awards of Excellence from the National Group

Fort Lauderdale, FL – January 26, 2015 – The 2015 Boatyard of the Year honor was presented to Whiticar Boat Works of Stuart, Florida at the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association (ABBRA) Boatyard Business Conference Awards Dinner held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from January 21st –23rd. Given to a service or repair facility that demonstrates excellence in all facets of their company through commitment to customer service, quality management, stewardship in environmental and safety issues, and positive vendor and employee relations, this award is one of ABBRA’s most prestigious Awards of Excellence. Jim Dragseth, president of Whiticar Boat Works accepted the award.

Located on Willoughby Creek just two miles east of the St. Lucie Inlet on the east coast of Florida, Whiticar has been in continuous operation for the past 60 years. Ownership of the company has passed between fathers and sons, and so too has the dedication to superior workmanship, outstanding customer service and in-depth knowledge of the boating lifestyle. The company was founded by Curt Whitcar who was later joined by his brother-in-law John Dragseth to run the business. The facility is designated a Florida Clean Boatyard by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Jim Dragseth and John Whiticar are at the helm leading the company into the modern era. Their expansions have included the establishment of Shearwater Marine in 1996, Whiticar Custom Boats in 2000, Whiticar Marine North in 2003, and Whiticar Yacht Sales in 2004. ABBRA president John Fitzgerald said, “Whiticar employs a wonderful array of talented professionals and the company relies on the old fashioned pride they take in a job well done. However, lest you think, they are a relic of past success, their web presence features two Facebook pages, a Twitter feed, Youtube videos and a blog! They are a wonderful example of the great tradition of ABBRA boatyards with a storied past and a determination to service their customers into a bright future.”

Dragseth said, “It is humbling and very rewarding to be recognized by ABBRA, Thank you very much for this honor.”  Whiticar Boat Works joins a group of several other distinguished boatyards around the country to receive the Boat Yard of the Year award. These include facilities such as Thunderbolt Marine in Georgia, Front Street Shipyard in Maine, Jarrett Bay Boatyard in North Carolina, Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island, and Keefe Kaplan Maritime in California that are recipients of the ABBRA Boatyard of the Year honor.

Award of Excellence for Customer Care

The Award of Excellence for Customer Care was presented to Bennett Brothers Yachts, a full service boatyard and custom boat builder in Wilmington, North Carolina. Bennett Brothers Yachts has a 29 year history of building custom yachts, both power and sail, and also providing yacht restoration and repair services. The company was founded by Tricia and Paul Bennett with a vision of providing outstanding service to yachtsmen from around the world.  Since 2007, they have been led by company president, Tricia Bennett. Tricia has a philosophy of remaining highly disciplined and is fiercely dedicated to offering the highest degree of service and therefore maintains a crew of the most highly skilled technicians in the industry.  The yard is located on the North East Cape Fear River where they have an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity.  The yard has a long list of complex and finely crafted projects in their portfolio, therefore, when customers brag about the service they received and the quality of the repairs it is noteworthy. There are several examples of the high standard of customer care ABBRA encourages and expects from its members, and it is Bennett Brothers Yachts’ strong relationship with its customers that has drawn the attention of the Awards Committee.

Excellence in Safety & Environmental Practices

The Award for Excellence in Safety & Environmental Practices is given to a boatyard or repair facility, or to an individual, that has exhibited a commitment to environmental stewardship. This year’s award was given to Jim Parks of Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for his work in helping develop the new revisions for National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 33 fire code for spray paint applications. In 2011, Jim presented before an NFPA study committee in Fort Lauderdale to address the issue of ‘Temporary Membrane Enclosures.’  He went on to invite committee members to tour his operation at LMC and after this tour they agreed to take up the issue for inclusion into the NFPA 33 standard.  Two committees and two years later, a draft of Chapter 18 was issued with regulations established by the practices at LMC.  These efforts were as a result of a 2010 cease and desist order to stop all painting at LMC delivered by the Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal who determined that painting operations inside scaffolding and shrink wrapped enclosures were violating NFPA 33, the national fire code that regulates spray painting. Whether you use temporary enclosures or just hope to use them one day, we should all support this reform that recognizes expertise developed within our industry to allow Safety and Productivity to work in the same space.

Award of Excellence for Commitment to Training

This Award is given to the boat builder, repair business, or individual that has demonstrated a significant commitment to training and professional development in the recreational marine industry. Ed Sherman, Director of Educational Programming for the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) was awarded the Award of Excellence for Commitment to Training for his 40 years of dedication to marine education, his passion for safety and professional practices and for his ongoing commitment to the sharing of technical knowledge. He has been a regular presenter on educational and technical topics at a variety of marine industry events including the IBEX, IMBC, and various ABBRA events over the years. Previously he was an instructor and the Chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology and has designed programs for the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard and NOAA. Ed’s commitment is also further evidenced by the books he has authored such as ‘Outboard Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting and Repair’; ‘The Powerboater’s Guide to Electrical Systems’; ‘The 12 Volt Bible for Boats’; and ‘Advanced Marine Electrics and Electronics Troubleshooting’.

Excellence in Technology

The Excellence in Technology award was presented to Gunboat in Wanchese, North Carolina for its passionate, innovative, and highly sophisticated approach to the building of high performance, world-cruising luxury catamarans. Led by its president and founder, Peter Johnstone, who embodies the company’s passion for boating, boat building and innovation, Gunboat’s use of carbon fiber composites and new multihull sail boat designs have helped the company earn numerous awards and accolades for its Gunboat 55 including Cruising World Magazine’s 2015 Domestic Boat of the Year, Sail Magazine’s 2015 Best Boats top honor, and the Newport Boat Show’s Best Sailboat 30ft+, Best Overall Sailboat and its People’s Choice Award. Johnstone pays great attention to how the customer uses their boat and with the help of the Gunboat engineering and design team uses technology to meet that utilization. Refinement and innovation have defined the 13 years of evolution of this remarkable company.

About American Boat Builders & Repairers Association (ABBRA)

Founded in 1943, ABBRA is a national marine trade organization that represents, is dedicated to, and seeks to strengthen and encourage professionalism in the boat building, boat repair, and marine service industry.