Watch Captain to acquire The Marina Program

SAN FRANCISCO ­ Watch Captain Marina Management Systems has reached an agreement to acquire The Marina Program from Computer Consultants of Tiburon, Calif., representatives of both companies told Boating Industry magazine in an interview yesterday.

While the bill of sale and other legal documents have yet to be signed, the process of transferring the files and customer support information Watch Captain will use to continue serving current Marina Program customers is already underway. The final target date for the transaction is currently set for June 20.

Watch Captain’s Tony Pimentel, in San Francisco to help finalize the deal, said his company had been in talks with Computer Consultants about the integration of The Marina Program into the Watch Captain family of products since late last year.

However, those talks took a tragic turn with the death of Computer Consultants’ founder, and The Marina Program creator, Lani Uhry in late April.

Uhry passed away unexpectedly April 19 after an accident in her home. She was 64.

Aware of her previous ties with the company, the Uhry family continued discussions with Watch Captain after deciding how and where it wanted her legacy to be continued.

“The family was mostly interested in having Lani’s program perpetuated and actually be used and be able to support the customers,” said Tom Mitchell, who is representing the Uhry family in the sale. “We looked at a number of potential partners, and Watch Captain, both because of Lani’s historic ties with them, but also because of their corporate size and abilities, were really the best match as far as technical support and also being able to integrate The Marina Program into their existing product line.

“When it came down to the end, the family really wanted Lani’s program to have a good home, and that’s what we think we¹ve found with Watch Captain. We think it’s important from the legacy standpoint that her customers are going to be supported, they’re going to be happy, and it’s going to be a growing, useful program.”

Pimentel said Watch Captain was interested in the acquisition because it gives the company functionality specifically for transient reservation, dry stack and the core marina business. He said that acquiring The Marina Program gives Watch Captain the “complete picture” for the entire range of marine facilities.

Going forward

Pimentel also said the employees who worked with Uhry on The Marina Program have agreed to come aboard and continue working with Watch Captain. And Mitchell said he believed the employees were pleased with the acquisition.

“I think actually today, the relief is sort of palpable in the employees,” Mitchell said. “[They’re saying] ‘Yes, we now have a home, we have a vision of how we’re going forward.’”

Watch Captain will work through the rest of the summer, with a goal of Sept. 1, to get its online support and toll-free phone support for The Marina Program up and running, although support will also continue during the transition period as well, Pimentel said.

“Our goals over the next four to six months for Marina Program customers are going to be all about fully taking hold of the support relationship and making sure that Marina Program customers are properly taken care of,” Pimentel said. “Were also going to work to properly support the existing program and extend it with more real-time and direct integration with third-party programs such as QuickBooks, as well as upgrading the technology to Microsoft dot net technology, and providing linkages with the Web for things such as online reservations.”

Watch Captain said it would issue a formal release next week detailing more of the specifics of the integration of the two packages, and on “the nuts and bolts” of the transaction.

But David Herndon, Watch Captain’s director of sales and marketing, said one of his company’s biggest challenges will be continuing the tradition Uhry began.

“The passing of Lani is certainly a loss to the industry and a loss to the people that knew her,” Herndon said. “What my goal would be is to carry on in the fashion that she wanted for her customers and with her integrity, the gentle person that she was, always caring about the customer first. She’s going to be very much missed.”

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