Boating Industry

October 2016

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44 | Boating Industry | October 2016 WOMEN making WAVES PAULA FULTON OWNER/VICE PRESIDENT, BMC BOATS Education: Associate in Arts with a Concentra- tion in Biology from Valencia College; Coastal Navigation Certifi cation; CPR Training. Years in the marine industry: 17 What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? First, I learned that good employees are hard to fi nd, so you have to stretch the budget in order to keep the talented employees. Second, I would say that I have learned that I have the ability to overcome certain challenges in my personal life and in my professional career as long as I stay focused on the task at hand. If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? I took over warranty when I fi rst was in the business because we lost our warranty clerk and warranty was falling behind. Nobody thought I could do it because I was "just the owner's wife" but I showed them, and I did really well bringing $100,000 in labor warranty over a six-month period. How do you hope to inspire other women in the ma- rine industry? I would seek out your local marine association and if you do not have one, see how you can start one. I hope to inspire women by leading by example and showing them that you can do anything that you put your mind to. I have made it my lifelong goal to do something that makes me happy, and I found the marketing of my company. So I would say fi nd some aspect of the business that you really enjoy, and the rest will fall in line. What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? First of all, you do not have to be a man to be in this industry, as a matter of fact I have been past president for the Marine Industry Association of Central Florida, and continue to serve as an offi cer on the board of directors and have been a board member for the last 15 years. I have been the only female the whole time and I am currently the vice president. Secondly, get yourself involved in every aspect of the business from service and sales, to fi nancing and accounting. I am not saying you have to do it all at once, just become familiar with all depart- ments of the business. What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies? Ballroom dancing, traveling, cruising to exotic locations, writing a novel in my spare time, horseback riding, spending time with my four dogs, two horses and two birds. SERENITY GARDNER CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SEADEK MARINE PRODUCTS Education: Master's in International Politics & Economics Years in the marine industry: 9 Was it diffi cult to navigate a career in this indus- try? Why or why not? Thankfully, no. Within four months of starting with SeaDek in July of 2008, the recession hit and it wasn't long before we were wondering how we would keep the doors open. By mid-2009, boat builders were be- ginning to rethink their products and processes, and started taking an- other look at SeaDek to differentiate themselves from their competition. Since then there has been an eager acceptance of SeaDek in the in- dustry. Boat building has rebounded, and most have acknowledged SeaDek as the premier sup- plier of non-skid. As the economy began to recover, we shared a feeling of having weathered the storm together, and I feel that we came out of it stronger as a result. Having spent my entire career navigating more typically male-dominated manufacturing industries, taking a leadership role in the marine industry has been business as usual for me. If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? The achievement that really stands out in my mind is receiving the Florida Companies to Watch Award presented by GrowFL. We were selected as one of 50 leading second-stage com- panies based on our exceptional growth, entre- preneurial leadership, and community giving. With the help and dedication of Larry Bernaski of Enterprise Florida, we have been able to build a dynamic economic engine in our community. How do you hope to inspire other women in the ma- rine industry? There are endless opportunities for women in the marine industry. I hope to show women in the industry that there is no limit to their success. By seizing opportunities and con- fi dently working towards their goals, they are becoming a driving force of our industry. We have a very strong female presence through all departments here at SeaDek, includ- ing Certifi ed Fabricators and Installers who are fully trained CNC operators and CAD designers. At our headquarters, we have an array of strong, intelligent, capable women in charge of human resources, accounting, marketing, logistics, and customer service. Just this spring, a female proj- ect manager led the very successful implementa- tion of SAP at SeaDek. Of the seven owners of SeaDek, three of them — including myself — are women. What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? To start with, I would tell them to lay the groundwork for their careers with education and experience through internships, and then work on attaining leader- ship positions and exposure to management roles. With these tools, they will be prepared to enter a somewhat male-dominated industry with confi dence in their skills and abilities. Beyond that, tenacity, grit and persistence will aid them in their journey. WANDA KENTON SMITH CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, FREEDOM BOAT CLUB; PRESIDENT, KENTON SMITH MARKETING Education: B.A. in Journalism, Auburn University Years in the marine industry: 36 Was it diffi cult to navigate a career in this industry?

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