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On the third Wednesday in October, we help kick off the boat show season with Ward’s Marine Electric and our regular networking event. Be prepared for a Latin-themed evening that will take us back to the classic days of the Tropicana Club in Havana. Expect to see feather boas and fedora hats, be entertained with live Latin music and tasty food, and discover Ward’s warehouse, service bays and sales center.
Until then, learn a little more about this third-generation family business from COO Kristina Hebert, granddaughter of company founder Ward Eshelman Sr.
Q: Tell us about Ward’s. What do you guys do?
One of the things that makes Ward’s Marine Electric so special is the family of services and expertise we provide. Our strength is in power management, lighting, battery distribution systems, automation and classification society testing.
Power management is the heart of the electrical system of a boat and includes shore power, generators and switchboard automation. Our sales department offers nearly 20,000 square feet of electrical equipment for distribution and supply.
The Inside Services department is responsible for manufacturing, painting and engraving panel boards and switchboards. We service a vessel’s electrical needs — stem to stern and top to bottom — providing clean, reliable power where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
Q:How has your business changed in the past few years?
Due to technological advancements, emission requirements and equipment becoming more efficient, generators are being resized — often downsized — during a refit or classification society certification process.
The impact of delayed maintenance is a challenge for all segments of our industry. In recent years ownership appears to be seeking the maximum output from a system prior to repair or maintenance. Pushing the age limits of equipment is risky and can often lead to problems on the vessel.
We’ve also seen a huge percentage of our service work requiring fixed pricing. Fewer and fewer projects are allowing for simple time and materials invoicing.
Q: What’s one thing you wish all engineers knew about and did with their electric equipment?
Our wish is simple: Avoid deferred maintenance. This is the No. 1 cause of catastrophic failures and detrimental disruption to system operations. The consequences of deferred maintenance have a negative impact not only on the equipment but also the yachting experience for the owner, charter and crew. Emergency calls equal emergency repairs.
Q: Some yacht engineers (or their captains or owners) may think they should be able to handle electrical issues onboard. Where does that leave you?
Safety is our No. 1 concern. When it is appropriate, we will provide troubleshooting advice and diagnostics remotely. Education of systems is learned through experience and time. Many engineers have a stronger mechanical than electrical background.
Q:What have all the demands for more and bigger electronics onboard done to yachts and maintenance schedules?
One of the top lessons we have learned is to never tell a yacht owner they want too much. An abundance of luxury is at the heart of the yachting experience. We manage the expectations by creating a thorough load analysis of all systems and equipment onboard the vessel. This load analysis consists of eight standard scenarios including seasonal changes and crew, owner and guest accommodations.
When this analysis is performed, the expectations are managed and planned for, thus eliminating the possibility of disappointment. From there, it is critical to have proper systems installations for all equipment to work in parallel.
Q: When should a yacht get an electrical survey?
Absolutely before any transaction of sale. The buyer should be aware of the integrity of the systems. The seller should be aware as well, therefore minimizing the detractions.
Q: What do the next few years hold for you?
Our company is growing to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry. To continue this track we must embrace technology, invest in training and always strive to do our best. One campaign we are interested in leading is the importance of electrical systems in determining a budget for the vessel. Educating all members of the crew, owners, and management firms that the boat’s safety, galley, electronics, lighting, heads, etc. all require a solid electrical system.
Remember, electricity is something that is always taken for granted until you’re without it in the middle of the ocean.
Join The Triton and Ward’s on Oct. 19 from 6-8 p.m. at 617 S.W. Third Ave. in Ft. Lauderdale (33315). No need to RSVP; just check in with The Triton team at the door. And bring business cards and a smile for all the new people you meet. Until then learn more about the company at www.wardsmarine.com.