By Wanda Kenton Smith

One of Dave Marlow’s most memorable childhood boating experiences involved a sinking boat and a rescue mission.

He and his brother were enjoying a fun sightseeing adventure in Norfolk Harbor with their grandfather aboard his little 14ft aluminum jon boat with a Mercury 9.8 outboard to see the big ships. On the way back, his brother asks permission to take the helm. As he attempted to maneuver through choppy conditions, he inadvertently stuffed the bow several times too much, which eventually submerged and capsized the vessel. Fortunately, the trio were rescued by the US Coast Guard, a story familiar to anyone familiar with Dave Marlow’s career and passion for boating safety.

Dave remembers his early days waterskiing and fishing whenever the opportunity arose. His dream was to become a marine biologist, but a chance introduction in 1986 changed the trajectory of his career. Through mutual friends, he met Mike Myers and Jerry Michalak who jointly ran Sea Ray’s product development and engineering division in Merritt Island, Florida. After an initial interview, Dave was hired into a management training program as a prototype electrician for Sea Ray’s yacht group. .

Since this initial integration 36 years ago, Dave has had a very successful career in the marine industry, spent exclusively under the Sea Ray and later Brunswick Boat Group umbrella. As Brunswick’s Senior Director of Product Integrity/Government Affairs, his current role is to “cultivate a network within the company to prioritize product safety, develop accountability and raise the level proficiency of production and engineering functions that follow and adhere to all global industry compliance standards. ”

Dave also oversees the Brunswick Government Affairs Committee and represents the organization on various committees and key initiatives associated with ABYC, NMMA and USCG.

Namely, he served three terms on the newly renamed U.S. Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Committee and is currently its interim chair. He chaired ABYC’s Board of Directors twice; served on its technical board for more than 25 years, including a term as president; and is currently a division manager.

Dave has been actively involved in the development of the EU Recreational Craft Directive since its inception in 1994 and remains actively engaged in the Leisure Sector Group.

He works closely with NMMA on major safety issues, including Prop 65, wake surfing laws and R&D tax credits, while also serving on its Board of Directors of the Division of engine manufacturers and the Marine Industry Risk Management Council.

An additional hat includes the advisory service for the International Marine Certification Institute.

For his significant contributions over the past three decades, Dave received the ABYC’s James G. Lippman Award for Achievement in Boating Safety; the NMMA Legislative Appreciation Award; and the USCG Meritorious Service Award.

Boating (BI): When you consider your 36-year career in the industry, your work with Brunswick Group and service to the industry as a whole, what are you most proud of in terms of contributions and accomplishments?

Dave Marlow (DM): I am perhaps most proud of the collaborative work I have been involved in within this industry. Organizations like NMMA and ABYC, with the assistance of the USCG, have been extremely diligent in bringing together the best minds in the maritime industry to understand, discuss and resolve issues affecting the navigation of boating and nautical safety.

There is a unique quality to those who help in this endeavor. Regardless of the company you work for, the “check your professional hat at the door” approach has always been used to create consensus standards for the benefit of the industry and the consumers we serve.

I am thrilled to be a part of this work and look forward to continuing these efforts in the years to come.

BI: I know Brunswick is a strong advocate for boating safety and education. Please explain your main initiatives in this area.

PM: It starts with our products. We pay close attention to our consumers and how they interact with our products and design them with safety in mind. We are diligent in how we market and advertise our products and strive to show consumers wearing lifejackets, using handholds and boating responsibly.

We build our products to all marine industry regulations and also comply with voluntary standards from organizations such as the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). To validate our commitment, we have third-party certification bodies such as the National Marine Manufacturers Association in the US and the International Marine Certification Institute in the EU inspect and verify our construction for compliance.

We are an active member and participant of the USCG and other industry committees dedicated to discussing and evaluating boating fatalities, injuries and statistics with the goal of better understanding the circumstances in cause.

I’m proud to say that Brunswick recently launched BoatClass, a new immersive on-water training program designed to provide the fundamentals of boating safety and operation, encourage boaters to develop their skills and build confidence. on the water. The training is 100% on the water and covers techniques such as shifting and throttle control, turning, stopping, pivoting, docking, wave riding, anchoring and trimming of the boat, among others.

Security is not a trend; it is a daily concern for us and our consumers. We welcome new boaters to our industry every day and it is imperative that they have access to the best safety and boating training experience.

BI: What is your personal strategy for success… how do you stay on top of your game?

PM: There is a saying: “You are either at the table or on the menu”. I strive to stay engaged not only in what’s happening in our industry here and abroad, but I’m plugged into the organizations and committees whose job it is to analyze boating safety trends, technologies emerging and developments for potential standards development. I remain fully engaged in state and federal legislative efforts that may impact the shipping industry here in the United States

BI: From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges ahead for the industry as a whole?

PM: Within the industry, the biggest challenge relates to the next wave of technology. I believe electrification will bring more changes/challenges to the marine industry in the next five years than we have seen in the last 25 years. There is a lot of focus on ways to use battery technology to replace on-board generators. , as auxiliary or main propulsion systems and to increase the power of the on-board system. There is much to learn from these advances and while our industry has the ability to learn from other consumer sectors already engaged, water as a biome presents its own strategic challenges.

Externally, I think we are close to cracking the code on our ability to really engage and communicate with the recreational boating consumer. For many years boats were sold through a dealer network. New opportunities in consumer outreach have given the industry the ability to track consumer sentiment and usage patterns. They demand smart devices, technologies and experiences that make boating easier than ever. Finding the way to stay connected will be a big challenge to stay competitive in the boating market.

BI: What do you think are the leadership traits most needed by those working in the maritime industry today…and why?

PM: Be a positive leader, communicate and teach! People never come to work to do a bad job, but as an industry we often don’t provide the training, support and resources to do a good job. It’s important that we take the time to understand the processes we put them through that prevent our employees from doing a great job.

Now, more than ever, we need to focus on workforce development. It is essential to have employees to manufacture products, but their training must keep pace with development and technological advances in the industry.

BI: Finally, what is your personal mantra or life words?

PM: There’s a saying, “It’s not hard to do the right thing, what’s hard is knowing what’s the right thing to do. Once you know this, “doing the right thing” is easy.

Making decisions isn’t always easy, but I believe leaders have an obligation to make the right decision, even if it’s unpopular. I think one of the greatest honors in life is to be respected as a person of principle.