How long have you been in the boating business?
I started in 1969 at MarinaCity as a summer job when I was in college, so that makes it forty five years.
Where else besides Crowley’s have you worked?
Marina City for a total of thirty five years for five different owners, including twenty years for BAM Marine and four for Skipper Bud’s. I have worked at Triple A Boatyard, BelmontHarbor, BurnhamHarbor, RiverCity as a tour leader for River Bikes, and Riverdale Marina.
The positions in which I have served include dock manager, marina manager, service manager and general manager. I have also worked part time as an independent harbor mechanic and power boat delivery captain.
How long have you worked at Crowley’s?
It’s hard to believe, but five years now. I still feel like the new kid.
How did you first start working here?
I had known Grant Crowley for about twenty five years when the situation at Riverdale began looking very bleak in 2008. I spent the winter visiting my friends at all the boatyards in the area.
I stopped in to see Grant just to cry on his sleeve a bit, never dreaming I would end up working here. He stunned me by asking if I wanted to sign on. He told me he was expanding the power boat customer base here and that they were starting an in/out dry stack service. Well, this was right up my alley.
Which departments have you worked in?
I started working for Jeff Strunka and the yard crew, and then soon joined the dock master team. They were all good experiences because I had the chance to see the different responsibilities of both crews and the tasks that overlapped.
What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s?
Hmm...he replied pensively.
The busy seasons are the best. Launching in April and May and haul out in October and November are fast paced and demonstrate the remarkable teamwork that takes place here, but no one can keep that kind of pace going all the time.
I also enjoy the summer when there is more time to interact with the customers and fellow staff, and also the in/out service on the north dock with the big Taylor fork lift.
Winter is a good tome to stretch out, regroup, go to Marine Industry Day and the Maritime Festival, and to prepare for and work at Strictly Sail and Yachtapalooza.
What do you enjoy about working for Crowley’s?
I love the people, both customers and staff. It’s like an enormous family here. The dock department is very egalitarian; we act as equals and learn from each others’ knowledge and experience.
Then of course, there are the boats and heavy equipment factors. This is like every little boy’s dream job.
I also enjoy representing Crowley’s for organizations like Shipmasters and the Chicago Yachting Association.
My job provides me with an endless supply of endorphins.
How often do you go boating?
Not as often as when I was younger. These days it is mainly as a delivery captain or an occasional peaceful sail with friends.
What kind of boat?
I’m from the power boat sector, and I’ve always been fond of Sea Rays, especially in the thirty to sixty foot range. I enjoyed having worked for Skipper Bud’s for that very reason. I had the chance to deliver mostly Sea Rays to and from all points between Grand Haven and Milwaukee and as far downstream as the Kankakee River.
Did you grow up boating?
What is your favorite boating activity?
Anchoring about five miles out and hooking a kite to the bow rail, then me tethered to the boat with a couple PFDs on and under me, floating in a sea of alpha waves.
How many Employees work in your department?
Usually there are two to three dock masters with one or two temporary assistants during busy times. We all have other talents besides being good with boats; generally my coworkers seem to be skilled IT types for some reason. Good place for a technical Neanderthal such as me to have his silly questions answered.
What qualifications do you have?
I came to Crowley’s with experience on fork lifts, man lifts, TraveLifts, Taylor lifts, hydraulic trailer lifts and the very unique Abel-Howe crane at Marina City, although its controls are very similar to those of a TraveLift.
What is your number one recommendation to boat owners?
Take it slow and watch out for the other guy.
There are three positions on the shifter: Forward, Reverse and Neutral. We need to use Neutral more often.
In your area of expertise, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat?
Simply, adequate fenders and proper tie ups at the dock.
What is the one complaint that you hear most often?
What is the toughest part of your job?
Not falling prey to panic during haul out season when the Ninety Fifth Street bridge opens and there are twenty boats coming in at once looking for a place to tie up. Mike Folan is a Zen master at staying calm. And Crowley’s employees from any and all departments will pitch in if they are on the dock.
When are you most likely to be found in the harbors?
I enjoy going to any harbor after work, taking a shower, changing clothes, and then checking the docks for old friends to kick back with for awhile.
What is your favorite winter activity?
I enjoy music, especially jazz. I have an enormous collection of old vinyl.
What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question?
That would be Marko Lucht at firstname.lastname@example.org