Thomas Mukamal is the CEO of Island Global Yachting which owns and operates a network of marinas across the Caribbean and the Americas. The company recently launched the ‘Inspire Giving Through You’ initiative, which aims to support the charities and communities surrounding the marinas they operate.
What was the motivation behind your community outreach project?
Eight or nine months ago I was pontificating my place in the universe. I’d been at the company for nearly a decade and we already did community stuff but not in a way that was scalable or reflected our corporate identity or culture. I wanted to put some structure around it to better support our teams on the ground, give it a chance to grow beyond IGY and have a more lasting impact. We focus so much on getting people on to boats into the water – I thought – how about getting our customers off their boats for a day and into communities which really could use their help and enthusiasm. We thought we’d create a day that gave owners or crew a way to touch the islands they visit in a way they never do.
How did you decide which projects to support?
I didn’t! I encouraged our local staff members to provide that input. With our local teams charged up and on board – I had a feeling this would take off. They picked things that would be meaningful locally and tried to organise them in a way that could be replicated and could grow. We have a dedicated team in Ft. Lauderdale that provides loads of logistical and financial support. Long-term we thought we might be able to get other marinas involved and eventually we want to see whether owners might be interested in being more active stakeholders to these destinations where they spend so much of their limited leisure time. That’s a way off but that would be the cherry on the cake.
What are some of the examples of the things you’ve already achieved?
Hundreds have already volunteered across six countries – from boat owners, captains, and crews to IGY marina teams and local volunteers. Some of our stand-out projects include improvement work in St Marten with the ICAN Foundation orphanage, in Mexico we worked on upgrading the Cabo Carolina Cerebral Palsy Foundation office, in Turks and Caicos we worked at Provo Children’s Home. In June we’re working with a homeless shelter in New York, a bird sanctuary in St Petersburg and in Fort Lauderdale we’re working with military veterans. After the summer event we’ll get it going for next year again – now that we have some awareness we can develop a strategy for including other marinas in our markets
Do you think enough philanthropic work is being done in the wider industry?
To be honest, I am not sure – but given the state of the world, whatever is being done is never enough. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have means, time and good health can do more. Too often, we want to get involved but it’s hard to find the time or venue – we want to make it easy. It’s good customer service – which is part of our overall ethos at IGY. Inspired Giving is a platform to make service fun and easy and to be part of a unique customer experience – life is about experience. Customers visiting us are often far from home looking for experience – this is another avenue to marry that desire with an opportunity to be a positive force.
Alongside your philanthropic efforts, is IGY involved in any environmental incentives?
IGY Marinas has always been a huge supporter and advocate when it comes to conservation. We take great pride in preservation of the environment. Each of our marinas host annual events promoting marine conservation and water safety. On June 11th, IGY Maximo Marina in St. Petersburg, FL will be assisting with restorations of The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. Many of our employees also participate in events promoting the safety of the sea turtles and manatees as well.
What is next for IGY marinas?
This is a hard business. There are a limited number of superyacht sites around the world and believe me, buying them or building them is really hard – so is financing them. We are always looking to expand into key markets in the US and Europe and are keeping an eye on potential opportunities. We are also looking at other ways to provide new or expanded services to our customers in more efficient ways. We work with a lot of commercial partners very well and would like to further work on these relationships. With respect to our own assets – we take a step back every day and try to build on accomplishments or solve problems – make things better, different and more enjoyable. Nowadays I am also thinking a lot about which new disruptive technologies will be applicable to our business model. We are trying to understand them better and how to apply them to our business in a way that will enhance the customer experience or drive our bottom line.