Industry companies survey damage from Irma

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Freedom Boat Club photo

Freedom Boat Club CEO John Giglio, said about 15 boats were damaged among the 500 at his 17 club locations in Florida.

MarineMax Vacations, the company’s charter operation in the British Virgin Islands, was significantly damaged by Hurricane Irma, which hit the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm last week.

Marine companies were still surveying damage inflicted by Irma, which hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm before continuing its path through Florida via Marco Island and Naples.

MarineMax issued a preliminary report Tuesday, saying, “First and foremost, all of the company’s team members and their families are safe.”

“The company has started efforts to assess the impact of the damage that occurred as a result of Hurricane Irma, which hit two of the company’s largest markets, Florida and the southeast United States,” the company said.

“Preliminary indications are that due to the MarineMax team’s training, past experiences and proactive efforts to prepare for the storm, buildings and inventory did not incur major damage. Unfortunately, MarineMax Vacations, the company’s charter operation in the British Virgin Islands, sustained significant damage based on initial assessments.”

“MarineMax’s top priority has been ensuring that our team members and families are safe,” MarineMax CEO Bill McGill said in a statement, echoing those interviewed by Trade Only Today.

“Our thoughts and concerns are with those affected by the storm and we remain committed to engaging with our customers and the communities that require much-needed assistance,” McGill said. “Our team and the boating public are resilient and both will come back stronger through the recovery process. Many of our team members are at our stores today, beginning the cleanup process and assisting our customers with their post-storm needs.”

Freedom Boat Club CEO John Giglio, who was still without power at his home this morning, said about 15 boats were damaged of the 500 at his 17 club locations in Florida. He predicted that only one or two of those would result in insurance claims.

“You look at the poor people in the Keys and Caribbean — it’s just complete and total devastation,” Giglio told Trade Only. “We lucked out because this could’ve been so much worse.”

Freedom will shut down operations until Monday to give time to employees affected by the storm and because there is “just a ton of debris,” Giglio said. “We’ve got a good two or three days of cleanup.”

Some of the marinas where Freedom Boat Club operates are also still without power, Giglio said.

He assisted with salvage efforts at the Naples, Fla., club on Tuesday.

“As I headed south, the water was still halfway up over people’s houses,” Giglio said. “There was so much devastation and there are lines for fuel. It’s pretty amazing, the power of Mother Nature.”

Galati Yacht Sales vice president Darren Plymale also stressed that the company’s hearts and thoughts are with those who were affected by the storm.

Half of Galati’s 10 Gulf Coast stores were affected, but Plymale emphasized that the execution of the team and staff in preparing for the worst made the impact far less than it could have been.

“Our best thoughts and prayers are with those that were affected,” Plymale told Trade Only. “We certainly feel for anybody that the storm may have impaired their situation personally or businesses, and we certainly want to extend our thoughts with them. First and foremost, our hearts go out to those who were affected. We’re blessed. When you take a look at it, we sustained some minor damage, and yes, we have locations that are still offline with no power, but we were certainly not impacted like many were.”

“We didn’t sustain any major damage, not only to facilities, but our inventory, as well,” Plymale said. “I have to credit our team for preparing us and preparing our inventory. To that, we prepared for the worst and our team, in giving them the recognition, did an amazing job for getting us ready for the worst.”

Now the company is focused on giving employees the time they need to get their immediate needs met and is offering help to employees and customers who evacuated or are affected by Irma.

“I don’t know the total count, but there are certainly areas that 90 percent of people in that area don’t have power,” Plymale said.

“We’ve also reached out to our customers to see if they need anything,” Plymale said. “We had customers who live in Anna Maria and evacuated asking for reports on their houses because they’re still out of town. We’re very obliging to do that.”


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