BOSTON — “We need you.”
That was the message 3A Marine founder Ed Lofgren gave to students who gathered at the New England International Boat Show to learn about potential careers in the marine industry.
“We have a very successful boat dealership,” Lofgren said. “I learned along the way it was all based on service. Even my sales were based on service.”
Lofgren had intended to blanket the South shore of Massachusetts with two additional dealerships, but has been unable to attain his dream, he told a group of about 90 students from Cape Cod, Boston and Maine.
“It did not happen — not because I didn’t have the expertise, not because I didn’t have the financial resources — I did not have you,” Lofgren said. “I did not have enough marine technicians to do the service that is necessary in the boat dealership. So, I fell short of my dream.”
Check out a video of Lofgren’s presentation here.
The marine industry is important to Massachusetts, said state labor secretary Rosalin Acosta, who addressed the students Monday morning.
“We are in a state of full employment,” Acosta said. “That means employers are looking for workers. They are willing to train you, pay you, make you happy so they can keep you. Thirty percent is technical skill.”
The other 70 percent of what employers look for is “soft skills,” she told them.
“They want to know that you want to be there,” Acosta said.
Acosta emphasized that careers often take new paths, and that though kids had career opportunities without needing four-year degrees, they might choose to obtain one later, and potentially return to the industry in a different capacity.
Students of all ages, from young high school to returning adult learners, seemed engaged in the stories from panelists and speakers who explained their sometimes meandering paths into the marine industry. Massachusetts Marine Trade Association executive director Randall Lyons explained how he’d cleaned heads at a marina during summers before moving on to other positions.
Panelists included Alyssa Linkamper of Brewer Onset Bay Marina, who began her career in the military; Stephanie McLaughlin of Brewer Plymouth; Goose Hummock lead service manager John Bernier; Lofgren; Tim Moll, regional vice president of New England and East for Safe Harbor Marinas; Scott Smith, principal at Boston BoatWorks LLC, the company that builds MJM Yachts; Boston Whaler regional sales manager Doug Nettles; and Larry Russo with MarineMax Russo.
They outlined pay scale and opportunities for advancement in the industry to students who seemed surprised to learn they could earn six figures as a marine technician.
The students came from The Landing School in Maine, the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School,
“This is a great opportunity,” Lofgren said after the event. “It’s rare to be in front of all these students. I liked the way the secretary said you can come back to the industry even if you decide not to stay. Fourteen people work at 3A in marine service. Half of us have degrees.”
“I was impressed with the overall attention span of the students in attendance and the many different questions as well,” Lyons said. “I thought it was a great collaborative event and nice to have the students, schools and hiring businesses in the same room collectively.”