HARBOR SPRINGS – A new generation will pave the way for Irish Boat Shop, a marina and shipyard with a history stretching back over 55 years.
The company recently announced that its board of directors has elected Susan Irish Stewart as chairman of the board, in which she succeeds her father and Irish Boat Shop founder David Irish. Stewart, who had previously served as Corporate Secretary since 2007, began his new role on January 7.
“Sue brings a lifetime of experience in all types of boating as well as a solid business knowledge,” said Irish. “She has been sailing the Great Lakes since her childhood in Harbor Springs.”
Irish Boat Shop President Michael Esposito, who heads the day-to-day operations of the company, said Stewart’s new role will involve overall leadership considerations such as business planning and strategy.
“This is a very natural and planned progression of leadership,” he added.
Stewart worked for the Irish Boat Shop for eight summers, starting at the age of 12. She graduated from Harbor Springs High School in 1979, then attended Michigan State University, where she earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in social sciences, parks and recreation. After college, she was employed as a social scientist with the US Forest Service until her retirement from government and returned to Harbor Springs in 2012. She currently resides there with her husband Gary F. Stewart.
“I grew up in the business and watched it from the outside for a number of years,” said Stewart. “I’m really excited to come back inside.”
Looking ahead, Stewart sees several key goals that Irish Boat Shop will continue to focus on: helping people have fun with their boats, providing employment opportunities for valuable team members and ensuring that the he company remains true to the wishes of customers amid the ever-changing boating industry. .
Stewart brings a variety of boating experiences to the post. She has teamed up with her father on offshore sailboat races over the years including Port Huron to Mackinac, Chicago to Mackinac, Verve Cup, Nood Regatta and has recently started piloting the J / 70 which she is co-owner with her sister. While living in Chicago, she was a regular crew member on an Etchels and competed in local and Mackinaw races on an assortment of racer-cruisers. She grew up sailing on NM sloops, an iconic and historically significant sailboat in Harbor Springs and a service specialty of Irish Boat Shop.
Although Irish has stepped down as chairman, Esposito noted that Irish still had an office in the boat shop and that the chairman of the company expects the founder to continue to make his contribution to the surgery.
After its founding in 1961 by Irish and a small group of investors, Irish Boat Shop grew rapidly and added a marina in Charlevoix in 1971. Today, the two Irish Boat Shops serve over 2,000 customers with berths for 340 boats and a capacity of 900 boats in winter storage. The company employs a team of 65 people who work together to serve customers. Irish Boat Shop offers sales of new and used boats, as well as services including structural, mechanical, electronic and cosmetic repairs as well as maintenance of boats of all materials and propulsion. For more information, visit www.irishboatshop.com.