John Andrade, 2016 Marine Service Technician Graduate &
Wyatt Krebs, 2016 Marine Service Technician Graduate, Best Shops Skills Award & Gold Wrench Award
Co-Owners of Above Water Marine
Wyatt chose career training in preference to college; John changed careers instead of retiring. They proved to be a good match when teaming together on projects in school. As business partners, their mission is to provide boat owners with high quality service at an affordable price. Their business, Above Water Marine in Warwick, RI, offers bow to stern repairs.
Wyatt’s Dad was an auto mechanic; while Wyatt was growing up, his Dad had his own shop. “I worked with my Dad on all of the family vehicles. We also had boats. When I was 2 years old, we had a small bass tracker motorboat. As we upgraded to different boats, I worked on each of them.”
“I thought I wanted be a marine engineer, designing boats. During my first semester of college I recognized that I didn’t want to be behind a desk all day."
"Searching online I found MTTI’s website, and made an appointment to tour the school. I enrolled in MTTI’s Marine program because of the value in the number of program hours for the amount of money, compared with other schools I researched. I felt the program would give me a foot into the marine industry.”
"During the program, I became friends with John Andrade. John came to MTTI to change careers, after 40 years as a skilled machinist and shop manager."
"He had worked for three companies, and at one time had seven people working under him. John convinced the business owners he worked for to move from manual operations to Computerized Numeric Control (CNC)—he made all three of them millionaires.”
“I helped John work on a boat trailer, and then we did projects together. We worked well together. John planned to start his own business. Although he intended to work on his own, he learned to trust me.”
John first heard about MTTI from an ad on TV. He was interested that MTTI had a mechanical training program for working on boats.
Throughout his life, John had had lots of boats, and had done some repairs on them. “I did think about going to school out-of-state, in Florida. I didn’t want to spend a year-and-a-half in school, working for free on other people’s boats—plus I’m a New Englander.”
John spoke with MTTI’s School Owner and President, Ward, who initially did not encourage John to enroll. Ward impressed upon John that the Marine program is an intense course, with lots of studying—he didn’t want John to waste his money. John, never one to take ‘no’ for an answer, told him, “I spent years going to school to learn CNC programming, so I know I can learn. Writing programming is intense—one mistake will crash that machine. People invest a lot of money in a boat. They expect that boat to float and run. If I could program ½ million dollar machines, I can learn to repair a boat. “
“I like the challenge—if I really want to do something, I will do it.”
John convinced Ward that enrolling in the Marine Tech program was the right decision for him.
“Ward was right—MTTI’s program is intense. At the end of the school day, often I would go home to read 150 pages in the text, and have a test the next day. I have four notebooks full of material—notes and brochures that the Instructor, Dave, would give us.”
“MTTI Instructors—Jay, who taught us about tools and safety, and Dave, who taught Marine Mechanics—were patient.”
“Unlike my experience at other schools and in business, Dave and Jay thought that no question was a stupid question. When people in the class didn’t get something, they would slow it down to make sure everyone got what they were teaching. Dave stayed after class to give people extra help. I appreciate that the Instructors here really want to share all of their knowledge.”`
“When we hit the part of the program covering machine parts, I helped others learn to read the Vernier scale on a micrometer, and how to drill and tap. I’ll use this skill in my new business, for example when working on camshafts that drive the valves.”
Wyatt commented, “Other school programs I looked at didn’t spend enough time working hands-on in the shop.”
“Even though I came with some experience, there is a difference between working on car and boat engines. Boats can’t have sparks around their engines, because that would ignite a fire. I learned to buy the right corrosion-proof and explosion-proof parts-- factory-grade parts. It doesn’t serve anyone to buy cheaper, questionable parts. “
“The Marine instructor, Dave, is great. Dave gave me lots of background on the details of marine mechanics. If marine mechanics is what you want to do, put your nose to the grindstone and work hard. If you put your mind to it, Dave can take you to places you never thought you could get to. Leaving MTTI, I know I can work on anything.”
“Together John and I are able to work on marine mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.”
“We can repair or rebuild engines, transmissions, outboards and stern drives—bow to stern repairs. We’re hoping to add winter storage where we are located in Warwick.”
“We already have a lot of contacts, including Bay View Marine in Warwick. I’ve worked with the owner on projects. Bought parts from him and learned from him—he continues to be one of my main sources of knowledge, as I transition from student into marine mechanical professional. We’re renting space from Bay View Marine; the owner is providing referrals and directing clients to us.”
“I’m talking with owners of expensive boats. When they talk with me, they hear that I can explain their problem to them, and that I know how to fix it, or can find the right resources to help me fix it.”
“Where some marine businesses charge $110/hour (and even at that rate, some do substandard work) John and I will charge less and give boat owners the highest quality they deserve for each hour.”
“We’ll make repairs on time and get the boat in the water.”
“I’ve learned personally that just because someone can talk a good talk, it doesn’t mean they can walk their talk. I am not out there to make money on somebody’s bad day—I am here to make their day a great day. When a boater takes their family out on the water, they want to know the boat will be safe. We will stand behind our work, and make it right to the best of our ability.”
“I thank my wife for believing in me and John—that the business will support us. John’s brother-in-law, Kevin will help us with the financial end of the business. My wife will be taking business courses in college; eventually she will take a role in managing our business.”
“I also thank John for being a good friend during school. I am thankful that he is giving me this opportunity. ”
John is looking forward to building the business.
During his internship, John had the opportunity to be hired as a machinist for a major marine company; he declined the offer. “I want to repair boats.”
“We are getting busy. I’m going to enjoy the challenge of making a good living doing something I like—and helping people—the boat owners—while doing it. After working so many years for others, I want to build a business with our name on it, instead of building business for someone else.”