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In a recent article on, titled ‘Legendary Marina Learns the Key to Success,’ our marina was featured for its commitment to training and customer service. You can read the full article here. 

With more than 750 boats under one roof and seven marine forklifts running each day to move an average of 150 boats, Legendary Marina in Destin, Florida, is the largest single-building dry storage facility in the United States. While dry storage has benefits, such as weather protection and enhanced security, the squeeze comes through the demanding logistics of the concierge service: getting boats in and out of the water. It’s the make-or-break point for the business model, and at Legendary Marina there’s no way to make it without a team of professional and motivated people.

Open Door Policy
Success has recently bloomed as management fostered an open-door policy for clients and employees alike, all with the goal of learning the weak points and fixing them. The general manager of Legendary Marina, Alex McDougall, related that, initially, the most common grievance from clients was a lack of individualized experience and care. “With this being such a large marina with so many customers moving through every day, people felt they were getting lost in the shuffle,” McDougall said.

Robert Wyland’s Whaling Wall #88 wraps around the dry stack building’s exterior.
The demanding logistics of moving 150 boats per day and having a limited 30 launch spaces to accommodate boaters meant that customer service had to be distilled down to its essence. “You may only have 10 minutes on the dock with them because we have a line of people coming in behind them,” McDougall said. “But that 10 minutes with the customer can completely change their day.”

This relationship has been the backbone of the marina’s renewed customer service philosophy. “You’re here to create an experience. You’re creating a day that that person will remember for the rest of their lives,” McDougall added.
The team at Legendary understands that the key to the business’ success relies on customer service and teamwork. “I started as a dockhand in dry storage, and it’s something I love,” McDougall said. “It’s a fast-paced, high energy, loud environment. You get to see these massive boats flying through the air.”

Movement and coordination of boats from storage to water is made possible through launching software, but McDougall asserts that trust and communication among employees is invaluable to the process. Training for new hires takes two to three months, even with prior forklift experience. “You need to be a team member through and through,” he said. “You need to leave your ego at the door, your emotions at the door. If you’re a dockhand and a forklift driver and you don’t trust each other, that can create a million-dollar problem quickly.” While teamwork and customer service are mere platitudes in the corporate world today, for Legendary Marina these concepts are now more important than ever, and their efficacy comes through practice, not turns of phrase.

Investing in Training
With a full-time staff of 35 and a part-time staff of five, the marina makes the most of its roster by utilizing everyone’s strengths and conducting regular training sessions in the off-season. “We’re the opposite of the rest of Florida,” McDougall said. “We get the freezes. Since we don’t allow boats to be moving around then, we’ve taken that time and reinvested back into the property and into the employees.”

Staff training is important to the success of the marina. The comprehensive training program considers each employee’s interests and experience.
The reinvestment comes by way of an ever-evolving training program that exploits the knowledge and abilities of every employee for the benefit of the group at large. Training sessions typically begin with an open discussion among employees about recent events or work experiences. In the classroom, team members run through a variety of procedures, including financial matters, safety topics, how to fix forklifts and boats and what’s the best way to go through any encounter. Playing to an employee’s strengths presents the opportunity for the entire company to grow. “Everybody is tasked with teaching and learning,” McDougall said. “The ground crew guys know things the management guys don’t. The management guys know things the ground crew doesn’t.” McDougall’s philosophy is, “What have you done in your past life, and how can we utilize those skills here?” In a recent example, the marina asked one dockhand with a degree in agriculture to redesign the marina’s landscaping.

The knowledge base isn’t limited to those employees in Destin, Florida. Under the umbrella of Suntex Marinas, Legendary Marina has access to the knowledge of more than 70 marinas nationwide. After the recent devastating fires in California, Legendary took the opportunity to reexamine its own fire safety routine. The grounding principle is that all employees have a stake in the marina’s continual improvement.

The improved employee culture has grown for the benefit of the employees and clients alike. McDougall said the marina tries to make the facility a more inclusive property for not just the customers but also the employees. This belief starts with the hiring process. “One of the first questions I will ask a new hire is, ‘Where do you want to go?’ You’re in the marina industry, and here we have every single facet: sales, service, boat club, yacht club,” McDougall said.

“Each employee tells me what they want to do and where they want to go. That might be being a general manager of their own marina, a boat captain, a regional manager, a VP of a marina, sometimes it’s as simple as ‘I want to drive a forklift.’ Then they have a goal.”

If everyone on the team is personally invested in the work, then the company can function as a cohesive unit. Commitment to the team and serving the customers as efficiently and completely as possible is now the watermark of success at Legendary Marina.

For more information on Suntex Marina Investors LLC, or the complete portfolio of Suntex Marinas, please contact or visit


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