Taking the helm of Ward’s Marine Electric
As the company celebrates its 71st anniversary, we speak with newly-appointed CEO Kristina Hebert…
“This year, we are celebrating our 71st anniversary and it's a really phenomenal accomplishment. I've been part of the company for 26 years so I know all that we have been through, all the challenges that we face as a small business. I'm so proud of our company to be able to still be thriving, evolving, and succeeding,” starts Kristina Hebert, president and CEO of Ward’s Marine Electric.
As with almost all of the yachting world, Ward’s Marine had its day-to-day realities turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, but Hebert reports that the team immediately understood the challenges that needed to be addressed. “We knew this would be a long term scenario and difficult environment for everyone – ourselves, our communities, our families, our customers, our suppliers – and we stopped and said ‘Okay, what can we do? How are we going to do this?’”
The Ward’s Marine senior team worked closely with the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and local government officials to meet the needs of the industry and ensure that the many vessels traveling to the region would have the facilities they required. “All the boats in the Caribbean were told they needed to evacuate and they came here. All of our facilities were extraordinarily crowded and our company became an essential service. The Coast Guard wanted to make sure that these boats are maintained for navigable water safety purposes and are safe for the crew living aboard them,” she explains.
One of the many reasons for the company’s seven decades of success is comprehensive conversations with each of its customers, during ‘normal’ times and over the last 18 months. “The first question is: How are you utilising the boat? And so one of the biggest talents we have focused on as a business is on time, on budget, on target service.” Hebert believes that electric and power distribution on board is sometimes undervalued or overlooked by the many clients. “It’s not always something that you really want to invest in, but it's something you rely on. You can have everything to put on the most magnificent event that you've ever imagined but if you have unreliable power, you can ruin that party in a heartbeat.”
The undeniable staying power of Ward’s Marine is also due to its continual investment in its staff. “I will say our number one focus is to make sure that we are hiring and training so we have more technicians in the field,” she remarks. Hebert reports that many of the staff have been with the company for decades and the management team work closely with recent graduates to educate and train them in the field. “It benefits yachting as a whole, rather than just us, as you’re bringing in all these people who are excited to be in the industry.”
While the company looks back at its 70 years of successful business, the team is also future-proofing its management team. Hebert was recently announced as the new CEO and President with her father as Chairman of the Board. “My father has been my mentor for 26 years and I’ve watched his work ethic, his decision-making and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. We’re excited for the third generation to take the helm.”
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