Triton Networking continues on the first Wednesday in December with long-time advertiser Maritime Marine, shore power and switchboard specialists. All Triton readers are welcome to join us for casual networking as we take a tour of Maritime Marine’s relatively new location on Dec. 5 from 6-8 p.m.
Until then, learn more about Maritime Marine from founder Malcolm Parton.
Q. Tell us about Maritime Marine. What do you do?
We are a full service marine electrical company specializing in switchboard installations, automation, shore power converters, designing and repair of other types of electrical systems. We are one of the largest authorized Atlas dealers in the world for shore power converters and switchboards, and we also have shore power converters up to 250 KVA as rentals. We also specialize in electrical and corrosion surveys.
Q. What’s your background?
I formed Maritime Marine in 1982 as a general marine service company and worked as a one-man band from a small warehouse off Miami Road in Fort Lauderdale. At that time, I was the fixer and installer of everything on a vessel, including engines, generators, air conditioners, fabricating built-in refrig/freezers for sailboats.
Many of these trades were self-taught after having lived in the Bahamas for 14 years at Pipe Cay and Staniel Cay. In the 1960s and 70s living in the islands, there was no one to call, so I had to figure it out and fix it myself.
Originally, I served a five-year electronics apprenticeship with British Aircraft Corporation in its guided missile division. After I completed that chapter of my life, I was determined to travel. So my next gig was with Decca Navigation Co., which provided navigation systems around the world. For all of the old farts that remember that nav system, it was pre-GPS and first used in the D-Day landings.
Q. How has the marine industry changed since you started Maritime Marine?
Since the 1980s, the entire marine industry has changed. A 100-foot Broward was considered a big yacht back then and had simple electrical systems.
Now the larger yachts have complex electrical systems. Many larger yachts travel to the Med for the summer and then the Caribbean for the winter. Because they are at the mercy of different power sources, they require shore power converters.
Then, so as not to interrupt the guest’s favorite TV show nor to disrupt the ships electronics, there became a demand for “seamless” transfer between power sources. Thus, the automated switchboard evolved with Atlas Marine becoming a leader in this field, along with their converters.
As this industry grew, I was able to narrow my business model to mostly switchboards, converters and other electrical systems, much to the relief of my wife as I was not coming home smelling like a diesel engine every night. I was fortunate to hire a brilliant technician, Frank Hernandez 18 years ago. He has transformed the company into a high-tech power management systems company. He loves the challenge of problem solving and designing management systems from the ground up.
Q. Wow, 18 years is a long time. You have a lot of long-term employees, don’t you?
Most of our technicians are long-term employees, which is unusual in the marine industry. We operate as an employee-friendly business. I was down in the trenches in the early part of my career and admired the bosses that treated me with respect. I want my employees to be part of a happy, challenging environment and not dread coming to work every day.
Frank has been here the longest. Michelle, the office manager that keeps us all in line, has been here a total of 12 years. Bill, Ozzie, Francis and Tim have been here 5-7 years, and our latest addition, Andrew, joined us this year.
I encourage my employees to invest in themselves and learn as much as possible about the industry. Above all, we want the job done right or not at all. Most are ABYC-certified electricians or Atlas certified.
We train everybody to our standards and encourage them to be the best in the industry. Sloppy workmanship is not acceptable.
Growing bigger is not better, if we have to sacrifice quality and lose that personal touch with our employees and customers. I consider myself a happy camper with the staff I am fortunate to have.
Q. What are the biggest issues or problems you see when you are called on board for service?
Since we service a great deal of classed vessels, it is important to maintain the class wire schedule installed. Invariably, we will find that boat cable has been installed instead of class cable by sub-contractors unaware of the difference. It should be the responsibility of the engineer to monitor that these rules are being followed.
Harmonics on the AC electrical systems has now become a bigger issue and must meet new requirements for class. Very few engineers understand the problems generated by harmonics, but we try to educate and come up with solutions.
Q. Part of your business is electrical surveys. Tell us about that.
Most of our electrical surveys are for pre-purchase of a vessel, which we perform in conjunction with the main hull survey team. A buyer wants to know the issues before purchasing a vessel, since upgrading electrical systems can be expensive or there could be safety issues.
Another survey area we excel in is the corrosion survey. This is a subject that has many different legs and sometimes requires detective work.
Q. I understand you have a new location.
After spending 22 years off Miami Road, one year at Lauderdale Marine Center and 10 years across the street, we finally bought our own building on the corner of Southeast 32rd Street and Andrews Avenue in 2015. It is a great, visible location with hundreds of cars passing by each day. Our business has increased considerably since we made the move.
Join us on the first Wednesday in December to network with industry veterans at Maritime Marine, 3120 S. Andrews Ave. (33316), from 6-8 p.m. It’s an island-themed event, complete with tropical food and island dancers. No RSVP necessary; just bring a smile and some business cards. You never know who you might meet at Triton Networking.