It is very hard to find good people with knowledge or a skill set
to jump in and have an instant impact. We
have a high standard and work on our fair
share of large projects. These require a good
knowledge of products and vessels to properly be able to make the sale. Same goes for
the installers/technicians. Keeping people is
simple. If you treat your employees with
respect, provide good benefits and pay
accordingly along with a good working environment, things take care of themselves.
Muller What are the biggest challenges now
and in the years ahead for the marine
electronics industry and dealers in particular?
I would say staying profitable.
With cheaper products, shrinking margins and all business expenses going
up, it will be interesting to see if dealers can
survive. We need to find some common
ground with the manufacturers on this and
also ask for help from the NMEA to do their
part as well.
Q With the constant advancements in
marine electronics technology and the
growing complexity of onboard networks and
demands for total connectivity—how do you keep
your technicians up to speed on everything they
need to know?
We pretty much teach and learn
ourselves. Try new things to see
what works and what doesn’t.
Marina del Rey, CA
Ken Englert is the owner and Presi-dent/CEO of Maritime Communications, a full-service dealership located
in southern California that represents
more than 40 marine electronics
manufacturers. He is also President
of the Marine Electronics Journal
Board of Directors.
Maritime Communication’s Ken Englert credits part of their success to developing good relationships
with everyone—marine stores, boat dealers, boatyards, marine workers, even the competition—and
taking advantage of opportunities. At right longtime technician Craig Hashimoto changes out a
power/data back panel connector with a broken pin.
Please give us a short history of your
dealership and how you personally got
involved in marine electronics.
I joined Maritime Communications as a part-time employee
50 years ago. At the time I was waiting to be
called back to a job as a tech at Bendix Electrodynamics, (earlier I had my first job at Bendix Marine, which later became Benmar
Marine). Marina del Rey was under construction—I noticed antennas on top of the dealership’s building and went in to ask about temporary work. Sometime later, the owner called
to offer me a job. He liked the idea that I had
an FCC license with a marine radar endorsement. After a while I became service manager
and eventually I bought the dealership in
What was your goal in becoming a
Master Dealer? How has that worked
We became a Master Dealer
soon after NMEA created the
program because of our focus on staying up
on technology. I encourage everyone to
become a Master Dealer—it’s an endorsement
that you’re on the leading edge and not some-
one walking down the dock with a screwdriver
in his pocket. Being a Master Dealer sets you
Describe the range of services that you
provide and the types of boats you work
on. Any specialties?
We’re focused on solutions, on
being the technical experts in
the area. We do both power and sail and some
commercial as well. For more than 50 years
we’ve installed and serviced the electronics on
all of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Fire
Department boats including all of the county’s
Lifeguard Baywatch boats. We even handled
the electronics for the boats on the Baywatch
TV show, which often filmed here in Marina
del Rey. We do some exporting abroad as a
result of contacts we made over the years
including visiting foreign boat owners we met
when the Olympics were held here in 1984—
we’ve continued to maintain many of those
relationships. We have also become a Certified
Battery Replacement Center. People drop off
or send us their EPIRBS and PLBs and we per-
form the required service and certification.
In general, how has the role of the
marine electronics dealer changed in
terms of sales and service compared to what it was
several years ago?
Basically, everything. In the old
days you just had to grab a
tube—if it didn’t burn your finger it was bad.
Now you must be computer literate, we don’t
necessarily go down to the component level
anymore. We’ve changed the way we approach
service. Software updates are a big thing. We’re
not just a Maytag repairman—we deal with
many brands and products ranging from satellite TV and communications to autopilots.
Every one of us has to have a specialty—you
can’t be a master of everything.