Daydreaming About a New Kind of Marina
Some people spend years at a desk job daydreaming about purchasing an old marina, fixing it up and running it as a second-life career move. It’s a Hemmingway, old man and the sea, kind of daydream. The father and son team, Ed and Patrick Ruff, are no longer daydreaming. They are currently building marina number three and marina number four.
Over the last decade, BoatClubsAmerica (the parent company) has completed the redevelopment of two marina properties located in Bonita Springs and Naples, Florida, and is currently working on the next two located in Ft. Myers and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. BoatClubsAmerica has a diversified business model for creating unique marina properties that includes private club facilities for boat and yacht owners in addition to world-class commercial marine yards accessible to the general public and the retail marine industry.
In 1997 Ed and Patrick Ruff finished their first marina development project in Bonita Springs, Florida, called Barefoot BoatClub; and in 2003 they finished their second called Naples BoatClub. Prior to this, Ed Ruff had spent the previous 25 years as a real estate broker in Naples, while Patrick Ruff had spent the previous decade as a commercial general contractor in Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale. It was a natural partnership from the beginning.
“There are some land developers who are fueled by architecture, some are motivated by profit margin, and some who really like the idea of construction and building. If I had to boil it down, I think we are inventors,” explained Ed Ruff. “Marinas have been around for a long time, but a new kind of marina for boat and yacht owners hasn’t been invented in a long time. This is what we are trying to do right now as we build Ft Myers BoatClub and finish the design and permitting for Ft Lauderdale BoatClub,” said Ruff. “We are inventing something very different from the older marina business models.”
The first thing this team does in their business formula is to imagine everything new. Each plan starts with the demolition of everything. Every existing seawall, every building, and even the ground under the water is dredged clean. “They’re all tear-downs,” said Patrick Ruff. “Most of them were built 40 to 60 years ago. Redevelopment is long overdue for these properties and it’s time to bring them up-to-code and incorporate surface-water management into the engineering. We start with a clean slate and then we begin to imagine how much fun it would be ‘if.’ Most land developers try to stay within the lines of a particular business model. We look for ways to draw new lines and imagine technology, engineering and amenities the boater ‘has always wanted.’”
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