By Leslie Kelly, April 15, 2013, Bremerton Patriot
The Port of Bremerton has hired Robert Wise, an experienced marina owner, to help fill some of the vacant slips in the Bremerton Marina, it was announced this week.
Port CEO Tim Thomson said Wise will work for the port as a consultant from now until Aug. 31, with a goal of finding 50 new tenants for the marina. Wise will be paid $9,000 a month for his services which will also include the creation and implementation of a marketing plan for the marina.
“Bob has the expertise in marketing that we need to see some changes take place at the Bremerton Marina,” said Thomson. “He will work with the staff and we are excited to have him.”
Wise, of Marsh Andersen LLC., owns a number of slips at the marina on Bainbridge Island and owns and operates the 160-slip Port Haddock Marina in Port Townsend. He has already begun his work, he said Monday.
“This will be a multi-pronged approach,” Wise said. “We will be looking for transient business, but our real focus will be to attract more permanent tenants at the marina.”
Currently, the marina is about 30 percent filled. There are more than 150 vacant slips, according to port officials. Wise plans to fill 50 of those slips by Aug. 31.
In his proposal to the port, Wise said he plans to “significantly increase the awareness of the facility within the Puget Sound boating community and to combat the negative perceptions that exist in relationship to the location, crime, amenities and tidal currents.”
Wise had previously proposed to manage the marina for the port when it was considering outside management last year. Port commissioners, however, decided to keep the management in-house. But last month, the board gave Thomson the go-ahead to talk with Wise about marketing the marina under a consultant contract which was signed by Thomson and Wise on April 11.
Because the contract is under $50,000, Thomson has the authority to sign without taking the contract to the board. Thomson said, however, he had apprised the board of the details of the contract prior to it being finalized.
Wise said he plans to actively promote the marina through the local boating press, social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Active Captain, a boating social media site. He also will use the port’s website. He will update the port’s advertising materials for the Bremerton Marina and he will co-promote the marina along with other area organizations.
“We’ll look at bringing in a transient crowd through boating organizations, boat manufacturers and through the yacht clubs in the Puget Sound,” he said. “But the transient numbers at Bremerton are fairly stable. What we really need are more long-term tenants and that’s the high priority.”
The scope of his work also calls for him to make recommendations on a new rate structure for the facility.
“I’m not looking at a broad across-the-board rate reduction,” Wise said. “It’s more about looking at an incentive program that will attract new tenants.”
In the past, port commissioners have told Thomson that they think the moorage rates at Bremerton should be reduced to be at least the same as they are in Port Orchard. Bremerton runs about $1.50 more per foot of space. Port Orchard is about $6.60 a foot and Bremerton is $8.40.
“We’re just in the initial stages of looking at rates,” Wise said. “I’m open to being flexible on that. We need to do what it takes to attract new tenants.”
Wise said he will work daily with staff and will report to Thomson more than monthly. He said he will be available to address the port commissioners if they ask.
“We have to have better communication about the benefits and values of being a tenant at the Bremerton Marina,” he said. “Bremerton has a lot to offer and we just need to get that out there.”
The contract also allows for reasonable expenses for Wise’s travel and mailings.