Women Making Waves: Serenity Gardner

Serenity Gardner

Chief Operating Officer, SeaDek Marine Products

Education: Master’s in International Politics & Economics

Years in the marine industry: 9

Serenity Gardner

Serenity Gardner

Was it difficult to navigate a career in this industry? Why or why not? Thankfully, no. Within four months of starting with SeaDek in July of 2008, the recession hit and it wasn’t long before we were wondering how we would keep the doors open. By mid-2009, boat builders were beginning to rethink their products and processes, and started taking another look at SeaDek to differentiate themselves from their competition. Since then there has been an eager acceptance of SeaDek in the industry. Boat building has rebounded, and most have acknowledged SeaDek as the premier supplier of non-skid.

As the economy began to recover, we shared a feeling of having weathered the storm together, and I feel that we came out of it stronger as a result. Having spent my entire career navigating more typically male-dominated manufacturing industries, taking a leadership role in the marine industry has been business as usual for me.

If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? The achievement that really stands out in my mind is receiving the Florida Companies to Watch Award presented by GrowFL. We were selected as one of 50 leading second-stage companies based on our exceptional growth, entrepreneurial leadership, and community giving. With the help and dedication of Larry Bernaski of Enterprise Florida, we have been able to build a dynamic economic engine in our community.

How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry? There are endless opportunities for women in the marine industry. I hope to show women in the industry that there is no limit to their success. By seizing opportunities and confidently working towards their goals, they are becoming a driving force of our industry.

We have a very strong female presence through all departments here at SeaDek, including Certified Fabricators and Installers who are fully trained CNC operators and CAD designers. At our headquarters, we have an array of strong, intelligent, capable women in charge of human resources, accounting, marketing, logistics, and customer service. Just this spring, a female project manager led the very successful implementation of SAP at SeaDek.

Of the seven owners of SeaDek, three of them — including myself — are women.

What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? To start with, I would tell them to lay the groundwork for their careers with education and experience through internships, and then work on attaining leadership positions and exposure to management roles. With these tools, they will be prepared to enter a somewhat male-dominated industry with confidence in their skills and abilities. Beyond that, tenacity, grit and persistence will aid them in their journey.

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