By Gary Bryant
Each year in November, the Semiahmoo Marina Condominium Association holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM), where slip owners have a chance to elect new board members, learn about current marina initiatives and offer input into the governing process of their Marina.
This year, the annual meeting is being held (was held) on December 3, at Semiahmoo Resort. In addition to new board members being elected, a new board president is being (was named) as well. That’s because, Jimmy Johnson, a board member since 2008, is stepping down from the helm as board president and board member, to continue his retirement at Semiahmoo.
I thought this would be a good time to sit down with Mr. Johnson and ask him about his experience as a board member and president.
Originally from Houston, Jimmy Johnson and his wife Candi moved to the Northwest and ultimately settled at Semiahmoo, bringing their 39’ boat with them. Consequently, his purchasing a slip and getting involved with the Semiahmoo boating community followed, and the marina hasn’t been the same since.
Managing a marina is a complex task, there’s a myriad of government regulations and insurance issues that go along with safely parking boats in a pristine environment; not to mention the responsibilities of providing world-class customer service to slip owners, marina members and the public, through the Marina’s community fuel dock, marina store, café, chandlery, and gift shop. While the Harbormaster is responsible for all the day-to-day operations at the marina, the marina’s vision and ultimate direction are set by the board of directors, guided by its president.
“Working with the Board and the Marina staff has been extremely satisfying,” Mr. Johnson said. When asked why anyone should want to serve in such a voluntary capacity, Johnson responded, “You must have the mentality to really want to participate and make things better. It should be more than just rubber-stamping decisions .”
Mr. Johnson has always adopted a hands-on approach. During his tenure as board president, he has worked closely with Harbormaster Doug Romano to bring Semiahmoo Marina closer to achieving its Vision and Mission statement: To make Semiahmoo Marina the Marina of choice for the Pacific Northwest.
“Jimmy has had a profound impact on Semiahmoo Marina,” said Romano. “Jimmy has personally gone far beyond expectations, volunteering hundreds of hours of his personal time with no compensation for his work, while providing the Marina with untold benefits,” he added.
Improvements during Johnson’s tenure goes beyond a new fire-prevention system, dock boxes and renovated restrooms. From Johnson’s perspective, upgrades to ‘process’ were equally as important. At his urging, the marina adopted a “Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI) model of productivity for its staff, based partly on Toyota’s LEAN management system. A system employed by Boeing and later adapted and improved upon by Whatcom County’s own FastCap Corporation.
“Every component of our vision,” says Johnson, “is designed to create a better customer experience. And to me, everybody is a customer, from the harbormaster to the café staff, to the slip owner.”
When asked what kind of problems he might see coming in the years ahead for Semiahmoo Marina, he had a quick reply.
“Given the staff we have today, I don’t foresee any challenge that this team wouldn’t be able to handle. Like any business, we must adapt to market challenges, and our staff is perfectly capable of doing that.”
While Mr. Johnson will be leaving the board, he still plans to be an active member of the Semiahmoo community. As we were wrapping our conversation up, he paused, clearly having one more thing to add, and then said, “Now I’m just gonna be like everybody else.”
Anyone that knows him, knows that’s just not possible.