4 MAY 2017 • FOGHORN A Great Operation is the Result of a Great Crew PVA Vessel member companies operate a variety of vessels, on a multitude of waterways, year-round and seasonally, all across the United States. The vessels are manned by captains, deckhands, food service staff, and tour guides just to name a few. Our collective passengers enjoy transit to an island, waterborne commutes that gridlock free, well prepared and tasty meals, sights not seen from the shore, or for many, just a relaxing couple of hours away from the commonplace. To the vast majority, our service looks like a well-oiled machine. Captains maneuver the vessel safely, deckhands patrol the decks and field questions from guests, food is delivered with courtesy, and passen- gers have the opportunity to escape from the shore. Passengers march on and off our vessels without incident and we have delivered another great experience. Who are the people that make our companies appear favorably to the public? Incidentally, aside from making us look good, they assist us in maintaining an enviable safety record. These are our employees. We can employ the latest ticketing systems, the most modern and up-to-date vessels, but without a good staff we fail at our goal of providing a good customer experience. Our employees are the face of our companies to the public and the mechanism we use to achieve safety. They are our backbone, but can also be our weakest link. Who are they, were do they come from, and how can we make them part of a successful team? My experience is in a seasonal operation and the management of a vessel crew. Every spring, we solicit employees from the season before to see if they are inter- ested in returning. We employ high school and college students and a good number of retired individuals. Because of their varying ages, education, and work ex- periences they have very different skill sets. First and foremost, an older individual will normally find it easy to interact with the public. They have been doing it for years. A16-year-old, on the other hand, may find it extremely difficult to speak to the traveling public. For many, their experience with adults has only been their parents and teachers. Speaking to someone they don’t know and looking them in the eye can be terrify- ing. It is a learned skill and one that the employer needs of their employees. The younger employee has to learn to speak clearly and in a manner that will give direction. “Watch your step, please,” as an example, is an important part of any boarding process. “How are you today?” can show politeness and also be an important part of your security plan. Coaching is an important part of this learning experience. How about the rest of the training? How do we reach everybody?As a “baby boomer,” the thought of high school chemistry and the dreaded overhead projector still causes chills to run down my spine. Fortunately, there are a variety of training methods available today. Hands-on experience, videos, lecture, question and answer sessions are just a few. Obviously, hands-on and repeti- tion are important for first aid, CPR, and drills. Last year, an older member of the crew noticed that the eyes of the younger people were starting to glaze over while watching a video. Maybe a faster computer-based learning session would keep their attention better and aid retention. I’m sure every company has their own tried and true methods of training. Whatever works for you is the best way. Team building begins with responsibility and pride in a job well done. Everyone has to realize that their job is important to management and themselves. The most mundane task is part of the eventual success of the operation. I like to give inspection responsibilities. Does the life jacket count match up with the placard, are any of the fire extinguishers missing safety pins. This is not only important to your maintenance plan but it shows the crewmember they have a dog in the fight. When you see a veteran 70-year-old deckhand talking to a novice 16-year-old deckhand like they have worked together for years, it shows some success. On another note, on March 24, the docket on the monetary thresholds for marine casualty reporting was closed. I want to thank Pete Lauridsen, Ed Welch and the entire staff for their research and preparation of the letter PVAsubmitted. I also want to thank those PVAmembers that submitted a comment on their own. Take care. Jeffery M. Whitaker President n LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Jeff Whitaker We can employ the latest ticketing systems, the most modern and up-to- date vessels, but without a good staff we fail at our goal of providing a good customer experience.