Curated by the editors at Marina Dock Age magazine, 2019 Docks Expo programming is focused on top-tier technology and ideas. Attendees will walk away with realistic next steps and meaningful information to make productive improvements to their marina operations.

Tuesday, December 3


10:00 – 12:00 pm Clean Marinas Information Session: Why Clean Water is Good for Business
Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas Program Manager, Ohio Sea Grant
Heather Sheets, Ohio Clean Marinas Program Coordinator, Ohio Department of Natural Resource
Erin De Vries, Program Coordinator, Michigan Sea Grant
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Did you know that harmful algal blooms have been documented in every U.S. state? Or that reducing marine debris to almost zero on coastal beaches could result in an additional $217 million in tourism dollars spent in the local community? Having clean, safe water is essential for recreational boating, and there are many environmental challenges facing marina owners today. Join the Great Lakes Clean Marina Network for an engaging session with information on everything from green infrastructure to harmful algal blooms to marine debris. Learn about how these issues impact your bottom line, what marinas are doing across the country to improve water quality, and how you can be proactive in your location. Following the information session, we will have a meet and greet with a certified Clean Marina and Clean Marina coordinators.

12:30 – 1:30 pm  Navigating the Marina Permitting Process in Environmentally Sensitive Coastal Areas
Penny Cutt, Director of Environmental Sciences, Edgewater Resources, LLC
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Environmental regulatory permitting in environmentally sensitive coastal areas can be a long, challenging and expensive process. This presentation will discuss key environmental regulatory agency programs and concerns including ecologically important marine resources, water quality, resiliency and mitigation. Attendees will learn ecological impact avoidance, minimization and compensation to reduce the permitting timeline and associated costs. Project examples will be presented to highlight strategies to navigate the environmental regulatory permitting process.

12:30 – 1:30 pm  Marina Food and Beverage 101
Matthew Smith, Managing Partner, Entrepreneur, Norris Landing Marina; Jimmy’s Place, LLC
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Most size-able marinas understand the importance of serving great food and drinks to their guests. This service can be viewed as an amenity to the marina’s residents or an additional factor to draw in new customers. Lacking experience and know how in this field is common to marina owners. Learn the basic fundamentals in this session such as finding your niche, understanding your limitations, knowing your costs, employee training, cleanliness and basic alcohol awareness.

12:30 – 1:30 pm  Climate Change Resiliency: Preparing for Changing Water Levels and Flooding at Inland Facilities
Bruce Lunde, Senior Project Manager, MSA Professional Services Inc.
Dan Williams
, Senior Landscape Architect, MSA Professional Services Inc.
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While coastal marinas begin to understand and react to the impacts of climate change, riverine facilities are just starting to learn the problems and dangers of more frequent and more dramatic flooding. This presentation will identify issues surrounding climate change preparation and approaches for building resilience to flooding issues. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crisis management approach along with examples from facilities on the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers will be included.

1:45 – 2:45 pm  Turning Customers into Champions: How Marketing to Current Customers Will Grow Your Business
Kevin Parker, Manager, The Club at Westpoint Harbor; Marina Marketing Consultant, Stars.Systems
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Boaters will listen when another boater talks about an amazing harbor or warns about a place to avoid. The boating community is a marina’s most valuable sales team, and that’s why they need to be turned from being just customers to being advocating champions. If customers are nurtured, rewarded and encouraged, they will become effective ambassadors who will bring new business. This session looks at a variety of inexpensive programs to start at marinas today that will turn good customers into partners, and great customers into champions.

1:45 – 3:45 pm The True Cost of Marina/Boatyard Insurance: What to Know About Policies and the Process for Underwriting, Liability, Assessment and Claims
Daniel K Rutherford, IAMI-CMI, LPI, Director of Claims and Risk Management, Maritime Program Group
Charles Skinner, CIC, CMIP, Executive Vice President, Marine Insurance House, a division of Wade S. Dunbar Agency
DJ Tyler, Vice President, Marine Specialists Limited
Calvin Gitter, Claims Director and Team Lead, Commercial Marine, Chubb
Gerard H. McDonough, MAI Owner,  Marinevest
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This two-hour session will take the marina and boatyard owner and/or manager through the steps needed to obtain the right insurance coverage for their facility, review loss control concerns and valuation and finally, how to handle the eventual claims situations as they may arise. The panel speakers will discuss policy language, coverage shortfalls (and how to avoid them), how to properly assess risk, how to properly insure to cover that risk and how to protect your assets should the worst occur. Our collective goal is to answer your questions, so bring them on and our panel will do our best to answer them.

3:00 – 4:00 pm  Economic Impact of the Invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels and What Can be Done
Scott Lang, Founder 060BIO, LLC
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From private dock owners to marinas, the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels is creating costs in both dollars and cents, as well as great costs in time and effort. The invasive mussels have been spreading across waterways in America for more than 30 year and do not show signs of slowing or stopping. This presentation will share how and where these costs are mounting and look at some options to help manage the problem.

4:15 – 5:15 pm  Planning, Designing, and Paying for Capital Improvement Projects
James “J” Mills, Western Region Sales Manager, Meeco Sullivan, LLC
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This presentation will provide real-life illustrations of the planning and design process to help attendees analyze and apply critical information and ultimately implement the most viable capital improvements for their marine facilities. Key planning and analysis questions will be illustrated and discussed, such as when is it time to replace docks; what will be the best design for a new facility; what short-term and long-term financial impact will a project produce; how much will it cost; and how can return on investment be maximized. The presentation will also provide examples of several marine facility renovation projects, and the planning process used for each.

4:15 – 5:15 pm  Working with Marine Surveyors: What Marinas and Boatyards Need to Know for Their Customers and Their Business
Dr. Virginia E. Harper, President, Navtech US Surveyors
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The marine surveyor is important to marina and dock owners, but there continues to be much misleading information about the responsibilities and validity of survey reports. This presentation will explain the responsibilities and ethics of the surveyor and will also include an update on “acceptable” surveyor organizations. Topics will include certification and accreditation, transparency, fiduciary responsibilities to all parties, and insurance requirements for surveyors while working in the yard. Handouts on inspection procedures for boatyard customers will be available to attendees.

4:15 -5:15 pm Boat Lift Profits:  Boater Comfort and Revenue Generator
Scott Mauldin, Regional Director for the Southeast, Hydrohoist
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Boat lifts are no longer a niche industry, and boats are made to play in the water, not stay in the water. Boaters who don’t want the hassle of hauling their vessel to dry storage can invest in a boatlift at the slip.  This could be a new revenue source for marinas. Lifts come in a variety of styles to moor many different types of boats. Once one boater begins using a boat lift, the benefits become apparent, and others will follow suit. Learn about different boat lift applications, the installation process and how boat lifts can make more money at your slips.


Wednesday, December 4


7:30 – 8:45 am Young Leader Awards & Keynote- Navigating the New Age of Transformation (Without Losing Your Marina Identity)
Dan Cowens, CEO & Founder, Oasis Marinas
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In a changing industry, change can be scary. Many cling to the old adage: “this is the way we have always done it,” without reflection. Challenging assumptions can be an even scarier place. Ask companies like Kodak. There is a lot to learn from other industries that have weathered the new industry change and not only survived but also thrived. This keynote address will take us on a journey through some of these examples to see what the marina industry can glean from them and apply in the boating world. Decisions will be made in the new age of marina transformation and only time will tell which were the best choices. Technology will be the key to change for many facilities, and let’s explore how it is changing the game of operations and improving the customer experience.

9:30 – 10:30 am  Marina Layouts – The Whys Behind the Guidelines
Jack Cox, Principal Coastal Engineer, Edgewater Resources, LLC.
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The most efficient layouts for marinas and even boat launch ramps are not happenstance, and there are real reasons for doing it one way or another. Just because “that’s the way it was done before” does not mean it’s the best, or even correct. This presentation will share guidelines for layouts based on engineering, environmental and social considerations. How the guidelines change with changes in the boating market and what are myths versus reality of what is really needed will also be explored.

9:30 – 10:30 am  The Digital Future of Drystack Operations
Jeremy Holcomb, VP Operations , Legendary Marina Destin
Todd Wagner, VP Business Development, BoatCloud (Anderson Software)
Katie Holcomb, Dispatch Manager, Legendary Marina Destin
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Drystack management has experienced a monumental shift from log sheets or dry erase boards and radios to complete digital dependency. The primary goals and values related to common issues faced by drystack operators will be shared in this presentation as well as a reflection on the valuable lessons learned over the years. An update on where the technology is headed will be provided, with an emphasis on marinas where multiple pieces of equipment service the needs of multiple departments within the same marina.

11:15 – 12:15 pm: Resilient Marinas – Preparing for High Water, Storms, and Climate Change
Greg Weykamp, President, Edgewater Resources, LLC

This presentation will review strategies for protecting your marina and shorelines from high water, flooding, erosion, and storm damage.  We will discuss specific strategies to keep your facility safe and operational, including upgrades to docks, utilities, and seawalls.

11:15 – 12:15 pm  Marina Electrical 101: Practical Application for Codes and Standards
Gary Loftis, Electrical Engineer, Maffett Loftis Engineering
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Reading the National Electric Code can be intimidating, and correctly applying the codes to marinas can be even more challenging. These codes are adopted and enforced for the safety of those that enjoy marinas. This session is designed to help explain many important electrical code issues that are relevant to today’s marina. In addition, practical examples will be given to help explain these codes. Both computer graphics and photos will be reviewed to demonstrate the correct and incorrect ways to apply the requirements of these codes. Questions and audience participation will be encouraged.

2:15 – 3:15 Don’t Let Your Company Go Up in Smoke: The Consequences of Not Testing Job Applicants for Marijuana Use
Robert Smith, Executive Director, Fisher Phillips Safety Solutions
Travis Vance, Attorney, Fisher Phillips Safety Solutions
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There are many questions companies should consider when determining the need for both pre-hire and post-hire drug tests. Should facilities test for marijuana use and what happens if they do? Can you be sued or cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for not testing? How can you help prevent opioid use and addiction? Can you drug test after an accident? This session will explore those questions and offer advice on how to answer them to ensure your business and your employees are protected.

2:15 – 3:15 pm  Property Valuation: The Basics of Getting the Right Price
Gerard H. McDonough, MAI, Owner, Marinevest
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Whether a marina is being bought or sold, the buyer and seller want to know what the value of the facility is so they can be assured the sale price is fair and competitive. This presentation will provide an overview of marina valuation starting with what to look for in regional and national boating trends, and how to evaluate the waterfront and upland area characteristics of the property. Next attendees will learn how to determine the highest and best use of the property to see if an alternative use would have a higher value. Finally, the appraisal, evaluation and pricing process will be examined from both an income and sales comparison approach.


Thursday, December 5


7:30 – 8:45 am  Panel discussion: Smart Marinas: How Technology and Automation Are Changing the Industry
Dan Cowens, CEO & Founder, Oasis Marinas
Iaian Archibald, CEO & Co-Founder, Swell Advantage Ltd.
Jeremy Crane, Vice President of Product Development, Dockwa
Austin Bleier, President, MarineSync Corp. 
Vance Young, Director of Technology, Scribble Software Inc. 
Lucas Isola, Co-Founder, Molo
Adam Zilberbaum, President, Snag-A-Slip
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Marinas have long used software to manage operations more efficiently. Increasingly, automated features are keeping marina managers at the desk less and out at the docks more. While the marina industry has lagged behind others in its adoption of technology and automation, that is changing quickly. With smartphones and web-based cloud applications, technology is touching more parts of the operation, and with a “smart” marina, operators have more time to focus on customer service. Join industry leaders from operations, product manufacturing and software development, for this discussion about what technologies are available now and where the industry is headed; how to balance customer service with automated features; and what can mobile applications, cloud technology and real-time data add to your business.

9:30 – 10:30 am  OSHA Impact to the Future of Marinas, Boatyards and Drystack Operations
Thomas Delotto, CMM, Director of Safety and Compliance, Suntex Marinas
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and oversight will have a continuing and increasing impact on marinas and boatyards. This presentation will help facilities prepare, highlighting adherence to OSHA standards, staff training, driver safety, equipment safety and electrical safety including a review of ESD and current leakage.

9:30 – 10:30 am  The Advantages of Drystack Automation and Tilt-Up Construction
Robert W. Brown, President, GCM Contracting Solutions Inc.
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Advanced technology and machinery are changing the standard for drystack storage facilities worldwide. While automated storage and retrieval is not a new concept to the marine industry, a fully automated process without a human operator and with the use of a stacker crane is. This, combined with a reinforced all-concrete structure, creates a storm-safe, durable, substantially secure facility. In this session attendees will learn the construction and automation process, benefits and cost-saving advantages available to marina owners and operators.

12:30 – 1:30 pm  Marina Condition Assessment and Strategic Renovation Planning
Greg Weykamp, President, Edgewater Resources, LLC

This session will outline strategies for completing a comprehensive assessment of a marina and upland infrastructure to identify improvements needed and establish priorities to guide an implementation plan. Marina owners will learn to assess issues in terms of potential liability related to boater/staff safety and environmental risk, as well as strategic improvements to increase operational efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and increase occupancy and profitability. Case studies will include individual marina renovation projects at East Tawas and Harrisville State Harbors on Lake Huron and coastal facilities in Florida. Additionally, the session will include an overview of the results and lessons learned from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Statewide Facility Assessment, which included a facility inventories for 82 state harbors and 210 individual boating access sites.

12:30 – 1:30 pm  Innovations in Sustainability: Updates on Great Lakes Clean Marina Efforts
Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas Program Manager, Ohio Sea Grant
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Several new environmental practices are now required to ensure Clean Marina programs not only maintain a “status quo” but continue progress on environmental excellence and setting an example for voluntary stewardship of the waterways in the Great Lakes region. Attendees will learn about the innovative ways Clean Marina certification and education programs across the Great Lakes are working to help marinas implement new environmental practices – including boat wash wastewater management, stormwater management and coastal resiliency.

2:00 – 3:00 pm  How to Navigate a Change in Ownership or Management
Mike Anderson, CMM, General Manager, Antelope Point Marina
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Marinas can experience changes in ownership and/or administrative management. Prepare your team for the potential concerns, issues and problems that may affect the current staff, customers, vendors and/or other interested entities involved with the operations and management of the marina. What are the big and small items to consider when changes are being made? This presentation will offer some of the experiences encountered from an administrative staff that has gone through these dramatic changes and how they are continuing to address some of these matters on a daily basis.

2:00 – 3:00 pm  Dock Construction Analysis: Cost and Infrastructure Guide
Ralph Morley, Independent Consultant
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This session will provide a better understanding of general construction costs when planning a floating dock project, exploring everything from the material used for the docks to the utilities and accessories that make each project unique. Specific items addressed will be electricity, water, sewage, boatlifts, PWC ports and more, as well as size of slips, covered and open, platforms and attenuators.