Ward’s Marine Electric celebrates 70 years

2021 marks the 70plus years of the founding of Ward’s Marine Electric (WME).

Located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, WME has been a cornerstone of the South Florida marine industry for generations. Founded in 1950, Ward’s Marine Electric is a family-owned business entering the third generation of its 70+ year history. An industry-leading marine electrical company based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the company provides dockside and shipyard service for power distribution systems on yachts of all sizes, marine electrical engineering services, panelboard and switchgear design and fabrication, and is a leading supplier of marine electrical equipment, distributing products from over 70 marine electrical equipment manufacturers.

Early on, the company differentiated itself in the community. Ward Eshleman Sr., the founder, was an avid pilot, and brought the first air-dispatched technicians to the region. He was also instrumental in founding the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), as an outgrowth of his lobbying efforts with the City of Fort Lauderdale to bring electricity to city-owned docks. 

Ward Eshleman II, the current President and CEO of the company, grew the company to over 50 employees. He also served on the MIASF Board of Directors in the 1980s and was instrumental in the development of the electrical safety standards published by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). 

“Learning from my father gave me the wherewithal to not only to proudly follow in his footsteps, but create my own vision and focus to grow our business to where it is today.” Said Ward II.  Kristina Hebert, the current company Chief Operating Officer, has devoted over 20 years of her tenure at the company to continuing the industry advocacy, including two terms as the President of MIASF, as well as spearheading a national legislative effort to reform an industry-crippling insurance requirement for recreational marine repair companies. 

“Our family and family of employees have been the foundation of our success, my grandfather instilled his passion, determination and care into his family, work and employees.  We work and live by his example and impart this ethic into everything we do,” Hebert added. “We’re truly excited what the next 70 years will bring!”

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Along with long-term support for the local business community and the recreational marine industry as a whole, WME prides itself on the longevity of its employees and the low turnover rate.  In addition to multiple generations of family ownership, there are multiple generations of employees.  Over the past 70 plus years, company capabilities have grown, often out of necessity.  What started as a way to keep the field technicians supplied with the repair parts they needed has now become one of the largest marine electrical parts sales operations in the country. WME has also grown into manufacturing, engineering, engraving, and government contracting.

 “As one of the founding members of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida in 1961, Ward’s Marine Electric is a pioneer of the local marine industry,” said Phil Purcell, CEO/president of MIASF. “The visionary community leadership that has been derived from three generations of family members has been both inspirational and invaluable to the success and growth of what is now a $12.5 billion industry in South Florida. On behalf of the MIASF staff and Board of Directors, we are proud to offer sincere congratulations to the entire Ward’s Marine Electric family on its 70 plus years in business!”

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