Editor’s Notebook – March 2018

The People You Meet

Congratulations to Rockvam Boat Yards in Spring Park, Minnesota, and the Rockvam family, as this year’s small Marina of the Year winner. I’m somewhat surprised this marina and boatyard has not won this award already, long before I started judging it. It was an honor to write about their history.

As I’ve found with many great facilities, it is often the people and ideas behind the marina, not the marina itself, that makes it so great. Yes, you need a great location and beautiful waters, and you need great docks and good systems. You need to offer boaters good services and quality infrastructure. But that’s really not what makes a marina great. It’s not why people go buy a boat or why they want to keep it at this marina or that marina. It’s the intent and the passion and the command of those behind the operation that breathe life into the business.

Rockvam Boat Yards modified the Disney’s guidelines outlining its company culture to match the marina’s needs. The guidelines must be followed and in this order: Safety, Courtesy, Experience and Efficiency. I found it surprising and interesting to put Safety first. What’s the one thing that could ruin any good experience on the water? A broken boat, an injury, large or small, maybe even a death. What could be worse? Why wouldn’t marinas make it their number one priority to keep customers and staff safe? It can be dangerous on the water. The smart facilities make it a priority for everyone, in a way that doesn’t stifle boaters’ fun.

Courtesy is less surprising as a company guideline, but no less important. Courtesy doesn’t mean being a pushover with your customers, or always giving them what they want, if it might, for example, jeopardize their safety. Courtesy means respecting your customers, their property and the waters, and your customers will do the same in return. It’s the culture you create, the experience. The marina business is about creating memories, which are often about the people around you, your family and friends, and the people you meet along the way.

And that memory will get all messed up, if you can’t get it right and do it efficiently. It is still a business after all.

The Rockvams have that special touch. It comes from years of working and learning and from a love for the marina and the water.

The bar is certainly set high, but each marina brings something different. It’s never too early to think about starting that application for 2018. Visit