On May 9-11, SeaDek Marine Products joined a Florida Delegation at the American Boating Congress (https://www.nmma.org/government/abc) in Washington DC, where they met with representatives of the Senate and Congress to bring attention to issues directly impacting the recreational boating industry.
Jason Gardner, co-owner and VP of Marketing, and Serenity Gardner, Chief Operating Officer, traveled to the Capitol to build and strengthen relationships with representatives who play a key role in legislation that expressly affects boating in America.
Among others, they addressed Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Bill Posey, Congressman Patrick Murphy, Congressman Daniel Webster, and Senator Marco Rubio.
“It was our first year attending the ABC,” said Jason Gardner, “And it was refreshing to bring issues to the table that we deal with everyday as a growing company in the marine industry. Our elected leaders work for us, and it is important that they understand how certain policies directly affect how we do business.”
One topic of concern was skilled workforce development.
At the center of the workforce issue is a nationwide shortage of skilled workers entering the marine industry. There are shortages everywhere, and states, along with various organizations are scrambling to combat the problem. One solution is a Jobs Act that would help fund community college programs focused on non-secondary education and vocational training.
“We’ve got some great employees, and not everyone here needs a four year education to be a great fit for our company. The problem is, we have guys on the factory floor that we would love to use inside, say as a CAD designer for instance, and it is tough to bear the burden of providing the necessary education to bring these guys up to speed, “ said Gardner.
Another prominent issue was trade, and specifically, U.S. exporting.
Over the last few years, SeaDek has been working to bring their products to new markets overseas. Determining new international markets and developing plans to reach them is a monumental task, and Enterprise Florida—with special help from Larry Bernaski— has proven to be a major asset through the process.
Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders, and is the principal economic development organization of Florida. For SeaDek, Enterprise Florida has helped to offset the cost of exhibiting at trade shows in Europe, assisting in acquiring grant money to develop an export development plan, and supported efforts to evaluate and determine which overseas markets would best support SeaDek. “This program has been such a great resource for us, and we have a lot of respect for them,” said Gardner.
After such a successful trip to The Hill, SeaDek is already looking forward to next year. As a growing company providing employment and security for many Brevard county residents, SeaDek is helping to grow its local economy one job at a time. Gardner said, “SeaDek is boosting manufacturing on the Space Coast; and by communicating our needs and concerns with our elected officials, we can push for policies that allow businesses like ours to continue moving forward and helping to rebuild our economy.”