In mid April, we received a press release to let us know that South Florida shipyard founder Bob Roscioli was about to get an award. My first reaction was: Big deal. Associations and governments hand out awards all the time. I’ve sat through probably a hundred award ceremonies during my journalism career. They rarely catch my attention.
But I read that the town of Davie was honoring Roscioli with its inaugural Heritage Award, so chosen for giving people second chances. It hit close to home. He’s hired many people who needed second chances, from military vets to folks with criminal records. And he once gave me a second chance, though I’m not even sure he knows it.
In the summer of 2004, when The Triton was just getting her sea legs, I hosted a captains lunch where we discussed hurricane preparations. As Hurricane Charley was bearing down on Southwest Florida, we discussed things like running vs. staying and tie-down techniques. Pretty innocuous stuff.
In the days after that story was published, several captains called to say there was more to the hurricane situation in South Florida. A couple captains had actually filed claims with the Florida Attorney General’s Office alleging price gouging at one of the shipyards up Fort Lauderdale’s New River. The yard was Roscioli’s.
I talked to both those captains, and a handful of others, about the higher rates they were charged for dockage during those tense weeks in the early fall of 2004. Then I called the AG’s office, which had investigated the claims and found no wrongdoing, and got that version of the story. I called a few other shipyard sources I had at that point, and got some more critical comments about the high prices.
Then I called Roscioli Yachting Center.
It never occured to me to ask for the owner of the shipyard. I was used to covering corporations where the owners usually didn’t know what was going on day to day. So I asked for the yard manager. He was angry at the captains’ allegations and gave me some colorful quotes.
All sides of the story reported, I started to write my article.
Before I could finish, though, I received another call, from Mr. Roscioli himself. If I wanted to understand the issue, he told me, I should come visit the yard and sit down with him.
I don’t know how he knew that I needed more information; I didn’t even know it. But he gave me a second chance to do my job properly.
I was shown into his dark office laden with memorabilia from a lifetime of working with boats, a career I didn’t appreciate at the time. He remained seated behind his big desk. I sat facing him, pulled out my notebook, and nervously began asking questions. He answered them all, not once getting impatient at my lack of knowledge.
I wrote a better, more well rounded story with all the sides represented. And I learned a lot about yachting, the business of shipyards, and how this frou-frou industry of extravagant toys and untouchable wealth is really about people.
And I have Bob Roscioli to thank for that.
Lucy Chabot Reed is the publisher and founding editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.