Some of my happiest memories are of times spent on the water with my family and friends. For me, boating is a true lifestyle and not just a hobby or job.
Four years ago, my dream of creating a start-up marine supply company with my accomplished boat designer husband, Scott, came true. Wake WorX was born from a desire to bring functional, one-of-a-kind marine products to the wakeboarding and wakesurfing community.
Growing up on the New England coast, boating was as much a way of life as breathing. We spent our short summers water-skiing, fishing and sailing. In my 20s I felt the bliss of owning my first boat, a gently used 28-foot cabin cruiser. I enjoyed countless days out on Frenchman's Bay, but when baby No. 1 arrived, "Katie's Toy" was traded in for a new Volvo and a baby jogger. As one can guess, my yen to become a boat owner again was always present.
My first introduction to the marine industry was 13 years ago while Scott was still at Hinckley Yachts. For the first time I had the pleasure of attending the Newport and Miami boat shows and the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference in Fort Lauderdale. Although I was content to pursue and build my own massage therapy private practice, I knew immediately that having a career in and around boats was where I wanted to land.
Wake WorX began with very limited funding and working late nights and weekends — and yes, it started in the clichéd garage. Our 3-in-1 Original Super Sac'R is an integrated reversible pump system that fills and empties ballast bags, doubles as an emergency bilge pump and includes a 25-foot coiled washdown hose. With Scott's connections in MasterCraft's dealer network, we had an instant customer base and immediate success.
Our aquatic invasive species ballast filter, Mussel Mast'R, started in the same manner. However, this took much more attention and dedication. Because our system is of a biologic nature, filtering quagga and zebra mussel larvae, we needed the system independently tested and approved by those who manage inspection and decontamination stations.
I have spent much of the last three years dedicated to this cause. I have successfully met with members of the Water Sports Industry Association, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, more than 20 federal and state parks and wildlife agencies, NOAA and members of Congress, too. So far, we have earned approval in 19 Western states, and our system is offered on Centurion and Nautique 2015 model-year boats.
In February, Wake WorX won the 2015 Miami International Boat Show Environmental Innovation Award and the Water Sports Industry Association's Product of the Year Award.
Seeing consumer demand for an independent manufacturer of wakesurfing tabs, we recently introduced the Super Surf’R system at the OEM level. It’s offered in conjunction with Volvo Penta’s new forward-facing sterndrive and will be available as an aftermarket kit early this summer.
I am very proud to be a small-business owner in the marine industry, as it is truly an enjoyable and rewarding place to work and play. And I would not want to be working in any other industry or with anyone other than my husband and partner, Scott.
MaryKate Wood, 45, owns and operates Wake WorX LLC, a South Florida-based marine supply company that specializes in innovative, distinctive and patented wakeboarding and wakesurfing products. Learn more at wake-worx.com.