Citing its innovative initiatives, customer satisfaction, and year-over-year growth, Marina Dock Age magazine awarded Bridge Marina of Lake Hopatcong its Marina of the Year Award at this winter’s International Marina and Boatyard Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“It takes hard work, perseverance, and lots of goal-setting to accomplish all these things,” owner and operator Ray Fernandez, whose family founded Bridge Marina more than a half-century ago, said in response to winning the award in the small marina category. Fernandez is the third generation of his family to run the marina, and in recent years has tried a variety of new approaches to enhancing the boating experience on Lake Hopatcong.
Specifically, those approaches include establishing a boating club, which allows members to share a variety of different boat types and avoid the hassles of boat ownership; offering on-the-water repair service and towing; improving the on-shore accommodations for customers; and hosting a variety of special events on the marina grounds, such as customer-appreciation events.
Fernandez said being attentive to the needs of each customer is a big part of his philosophy, and lauds his well-trained staff that he says requires little direction to keep things moving smoothly and efficiently. “There’s little that can’t or won’t be done to improve the customer’s boating experience,” he said.
Bridge Marina has also put a priority on minimizing its environmental footprint, and two years ago became the first freshwater marina in the state to be certified in the Department of Environmental Protection’s “New Jersey Clean Marina Program.” To achieve that, the marina had to make a series of changes to its facility and day-to-day operations, such as adding a special fueling dock for personal watercraft that reduces the likelihood of spills. “It’s all these tiny little things, but they all add up,” Fernandez said. “You try to do as much as you can, but stuff slips through the cracks. This really helps you focus on what you can do. And it’s all attainable and stuff you should be doing anyway.” (To read the full story about the Clean Marinas award, click here.)
Marina Dock Age magazine, in its lengthy piece that details why it chose Bridge Marina for its 2011 award, draws attention to the marina’s marketing strategy, but also its involvement in starting the Lake Hopatcong Alliance and working with other businesses to promote the long-term health of Lake Hopatcong.
“Marina managers, owners, and operators looking to find a real-world example of how a small marina should be run need to look no further,” the publication states. “Bridge Marina epitomizes the best of small business in the United States.”