By Dorie Cox
Fort Lauderdale Yacht Harbor (FLYH) has purchased one of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest shipyards, Fort Lauderdale-based Bradford Marine and Bradford Grand Bahama, for an undisclosed price. The Fort Lauderdale property closed on Jan. 1 but the closing for Bradford Grand Bahama awaits government approval.
Bradford President Paul Engle and CFO Tom Thomas will continue in their positions, and both properties will continue to operate as before the sale, according to a statement from Stiles Realty, which brokered the deal. The new owners, father and son team John and Michael Kelly, said they plan to make improvements to enhance the shipyard experience for owners, captains and crew.
Engle, a former yacht captain who joined Bradford in 1993, told The Triton he was excited to work with the new owners.
“It’s nice to have a private family with yacht interests buy Bradford,” he said. “Everything’s going to stay the same; the new owners like what they see here. They’re enthusiasts who will continue the craftsmanship, pay attention to detail and back up our work. They’ll continue the legacy Bradford was built on.”
Bradford Marine began in Florida in 1966 and is recognized by its iconic green stripes on the New River, tucked between fellow shipyard pioneers Cable Marine to the east and Roscioli Yachting Center to the west.
“As longtime yacht owners, we have been passionate about the boating and yachting lifestyle for many years,” John Kelly, CEO of FLYH, wrote in an email to The Triton. “We have experience with shipyards along the East Coast and inland areas, and have recognized ways in which the delivery of services to the yachting community could be improved.
“There are improvements we are planning in the yard and the marina to cater to the future generation of yacht owners and crew, marrying technology and data analytics with superior technicians and craftsmen who understand classic yachts as well as the latest generation of yachts,” he said.
Kelly, of Presto, Pennsylvania, owns several industry-related companies, including American Yacht Harbor Group and Imagine Marine. According to a news release announcing the sale, the new owners “will be making substantial investments”, and long-term goals include “a state-of-the-art shipyard and marina.”
“In Fort Lauderdale, you will see improvements in traffic flow and parking at the facility,” Kelly wrote. “And in both facilities, you’ll see additional dockage, world-class high-speed wi-fi service that covers the entire facilities and allows for 24/7 high-speed internet enabling voice-over-IP, video conferencing, entertainment streaming, managing yacht control systems, international connectivity, and much more. We will be working with captains and crew on additional prioritization of their top needs at both facilities.
“Our total focus is all about the needs of yacht owners and how we help captains and crew deliver for their owners. They are our lifeblood,” Kelly wrote. “We look forward to many conversations with captains and crew to receive their input on what will make Bradford their destination for refit, repair and dockage. We recognize that every yard can improve, and Bradford is no exception. We are investing in our facilities for the yachting community to better cater to their needs.”
Julie Berry, principal of Marina Investments Group with Stiles Realty in Fort Lauderdale, brokered the deal.
“This will be a wonderful family operation run by a father and son,” she said. “They are passionate and making sure it will run as it has been run. They will make improvements to the property and operations, but they’ll be good ones.”
Despite rumors last year that the property was for sale, Berry said it was not “on the market for sale, but the owners were ready to sell, but they wanted to sell to the right people. That’s the consensus on the river: people want the shipyards and marinas to stay and not to develop into condos.”
Bradford in Fort Lauderdale has the capacity to haul up to 250 tons and house yachts up to 180 feet. The facility has more than 11,000 linear feet of in-water dockage under cover.
The 47-acre Bradford Marine Bahamas was founded in 1997 and can work with yachts up to 500 feet in length. The island facility has 25-foot depth, a 1,200-ton drydock, a 150-ton Marine Travelift, and access to a 27,000-ton drydock.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.