**SOUTHERN BOATING , THE SOUTH'S LARGEST BOATING MAGAZINE**
« **Southeast Seaboard News August 2014**
**Southern Boating Magazine**
**Don Douglas, Creator and Owner of BoatNation.com**
**Don Douglas** work experience in fiberglass boat building, powerboat sales, marina owner, and his current 35-year career as owner of A1A Yacht Brokers led him to create BoatNation.com an online, one-stop-shop forum for industry individuals and customers alike. The website hosts free advertising and marketing for all genres of the marine industry from used boats to maintenance services to waterfront rentals and even boating news. The site aims to promote smaller businesses or up-and-coming companies, and gives customers an all-inclusive website for their entire marine needs.
**By Christine Carpenter**
**SB: Please introduce BoatNation.com and explain how it came about.**
**DD:** BoatNation.com is basically an online forum modeled after the popular Craigslist website platform structure, and it serves the marine service industry as well as everyday marine industry customers. For example, a broker can post a listing for a boat he is selling with pictures, a YouTube video and a write-up with links to his website,and Facbook, for free, or a new artist can list an ad for their art gallery that features marine landscapes, etc.
Years ago I came across an old boatyard in St. Augustine and purchased it to build Rivers Edge Marina, which currently has 100 slips and a great on-site restaurant. In the past year I sold the marina but remembered that in my time running it, people constantly asked where they could get a number of marine services done. It sparked the idea of creating an online forum that would create ease and convenience in searching for marine needs, and allows companies to advertise and create awareness completely free.
**SB: What set BoatNation.com apart from other competitors in the field?**
**DD:** Ive been in this business a long time and I constantly check to see if there is anything similar, but there is really no other site that is a directory for all cruisers needs in one place. In essence, a person can visit BoatNation.com to find financing to buy a boat, search for and purchase a boat, locate someone to survey that boat and someone to provide marine services for that boat inside and out, locate a marina to dock their boat during a trip, then find a waterfront restaurant or hotel at that destination. If you need supplies, you can find a ships store, read boat updates, find a shipmate, and even find a waterfront property to rent. What even better is you can “search all or search by state or island (there are tabs for The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, etc.) There nothing else like this.
**SB: When did the company launch and how have you seen it develop since then?**
**DD:** It launched in October 2013 and it has really grown, although it has been a slow progression. I think people are hesitant of something being completely free, but there are three levels of advertising that someone can choose. A regular, free ad post expires after 30 to 60 days, although you can opt to feature an ad for a certain length of time, which ensures your listing stays at the top of the page, or you can opt for an extended ad length up to 365 days for varying prices. I relate it to purchasing a plane ticket everyone is allowed on the plane, but if you want to upgrade to business class or first class, you pay a little extra. For the small business guys, though the smaller businesses or talented industry people who dont have a mega warehouse, etc. this is a perfect opportunity for them to pay a very small fee and hopefully get great exposure.
**SB: How has BoatNation.com made a difference in the marine industry and affected mariners experience on the water?**
**DD:** It really enriches the companies and workers who are talented but dont have a huge budgets/business or building; this raises awareness and brings business to those people, and I love promoting smaller companies. It really a platform for people in all aspects of the marine industry brokers, laborers, artists, destinations, marinas, service yards, etc. Also, what neat is that if you access BoatNation.com on your phone, all the numbers are active, which is a huge convenience to have a card file of all the marine service industries in one place.
**SB: What should we expect to see from BoaNation in this upcoming year?**
**DD:** I expect an influx of participation. It really takes community involvement to make it work. The more people who get involved, obviously the more rich in content the site will become. I am willing to invest my time and money into it because I believe it will really help people. I also have a few interests from companies and publications who want to partner with Boats and Shore to share more information with their readers. I am also starting a newsletter that will include coupons for marinas, restaurants and other industry-related products and services, along with marine updates.
**SB: How involved in the boating and marine community are you? Do you own a boat yourself?**
**DD:** Ive worked in varying facets of the marine industry for over 35 years. I live in St. Augustine and my family has a few boats and toys that provide a lot of family time on the water. My kids are 7 and 9 years old, so we spend time water skiing and tubing together, and they also went to sailing camp over the summer. The other weekend, my 7 year old and his friend came over and said they wanted to fish, so I watched them sit on the dock from 10AM to 4PM with just their bucket of shrimp and their fishing rods no cell phones, no iPads, no TV just them and the water. That what it about.
**SB: What else would you like our readers to know?**
**DD:** I have been in the industry so long and made money off of the industry, and I really want to give something back. This is a really accessible site and it meant to help out the small business guy lift and dock builders, surveyors, and mechanics not just major companies. I have a job already, so I dont do this for profit; I just like to keep the staff and myself occupied and we all love this industry. We love to see what out there talking to industry personnel and researching products to share with people who are in need of services. Every category on this site is something that you can find at a major boat showÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I basically want it to be an online boat show for the many who cannot afford to rent a booth and customers who cannot attend.
**email them At** : info @ **BoatNation.com**
**See Them on the Web at** : http://www.boatNation.com/
« Southeast Seaboard News August 2014
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