Category Archives: Uncategorized

Employee Spotlight: Ed Erskine – Machine Foreman

Ed has been working in the Machine/Mechanics Dept., for the last 8 years since he joined TMI.  After 2 tours in Vietnam as a UHI helicopter pilot, Ed, a native of New Jersey, continued his army career as an Instructor at Hunter AAF.   Upon leaving the army, he enrolled at Armstrong State to major in Economics.   For summer work,  he joined the  Savannah Machine & Foundry Company shipyard because of his interest with “all things boating.”   Working his way up the system through various departments and in a variety of jobs, he became a Ship Supervisor but has owned many titles in his 45 years within the industry.  Married with 1 child and several pets, Ed owns both a sailboat and a center console which he will put to good use during his retirement in June 2017. We will be very sorry to see Ed go but envy his opportunity to enjoy all the things he most appreciates when he has time on his hands – like finishing a custom made model boat which hasn’t (apparently) seen daylight since the late 80’s!   He enjoys every aspect of the ship repair business, evidenced by his work ethics and is no more partial to one particular task than another.  On behalf of everyone here at TMI and his loyal customer base, we wish him well for the fun years ahead and we thank him for his services to our country.

Crystal Clear Cleaning Company – Bill Smith

Crystal Bill as he is known, says the boating industry in Thunderbolt believe it or not, makes up only about 5% of his business but it is without question, the most challenging and the most interesting.   Starting the business from scratch in 1989 primarily as a window cleaning business, he diversified to include carpet cleaning from previous experience in the industry with the absolute knowledge he could improve upon the local services.  Essentially a family run enterprise, Bill and his 5 employees are experts in their field and have received the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the past 5 consecutive  years.

Bill and his team work exceptionally hard.  They are trustworthy and dependable, and they are particularly experienced in the art of practicing yacht etiquette with all the little nuances each individual’s vessel requires.  Skilled in every level of steam/dry cleaning, Bill will do everything he can to ensure your satisfaction as he takes pride in his work and the name he has built up over 25 years.  In his free time, Bill spends his moments with family – his wife and 2 children but is passionate about old car restoration.  His current project is a 1981 Z28 Camaro.


TMI Support – Performance Power Systems

Most people know Dave Orr. He is recognized at boat shows and in boatyards all along the Eastern Seaboard, but primarily here in Georgia where his business has been based since 1995. Originally from Jacksonville, Dave recognized a need to establish a locally based marine propulsion and gen-set service industry to support the well-established commercial and rapidly growing private sector in and around our city of Savannah. Having built a strong reputation at our facility over many years, PPS and TMI enjoy a great relationship with our mutual customers based on our combined expertise, quality, knowledge, efficiency and dedication to the marine industry.
Performance Power also have offices in Pompano and Stuart, both located in Florida.  Dave is particularly proud to share the spotlight with Eric and Tony; 2 loyal employees who have helped him build his industry for over 20 years.

Ongoing Commitment to Service: Finishing Shop Expansion

This summer, TMI embarked upon major refurbishment of an existing building located in the north end of the yard near the front gate.  Initially used to house smaller boats for painting, and then more recently for mast maintenance/finishing, this one story building has undergone a refit to include an enclosed preparation area with a separate “clean” room for brushing and/or polishing and a mezzanine area intended for office space and storage, with some work space for items like removed handrails.  In addition, a 32 ft long downdraft committed heat controlled finishing booth for paint, wood finishes and varnishing has been installed.  Expected to be finished later this Autumn, our Finishing Dept., will be able to accommodate a large number of interior items removed from vessels to efficiently complete tasks in a dedicated dust-free environment.

Employee Spotlight – Tony Heyden & Ryan Giles (Hydraulics Dept).

When TMI first opened its doors in October 2003, hydraulic tasks fell under the umbrella of the Machine Dept., until it was obvious there was a need for a separate department dedicated entirely to the demands for these specialized skills and services.

Our Foreman – Tony Heyden, once an engineer with the British Royal Navy and a previous employee of Quantam Marine Engineering, has headed up the department since its infancy.  Tony is still authorized by Quantam and Naiad along with other brands to perform services on their products here.  He is very ably supported by Ryan Giles, a native Savannahian whose background is in aviation but who has been with us for the last 4 years having spent some years in the machine shop before switching trades.

Both are passionate about troubleshooting, breaking down and rebuilding stabilizer systems.  Despite being a highly efficient team of two, the demand for hydraulic services is so great, that they are actively recruiting new team members for the department.  Tony, Ryan and TMI have in their words “recognized the need to expand their shop and diversify their department so that they can make a bigger impact on their customers’ demands for quality control, knowledge of all systems and greater attention to smaller details”.

Tony is fast approaching retirement.  He is very much looking forward to it and has been actively planning his future for some years now.  He will be greatly missed by all of us here at TMI as he will undoubtedly by his many loyal customers, but we are confident that he has imparted a great deal of knowledge onto Ryan.  We wish Tony well for a long, healthy and happy retirement.

Employee Spotlight – James McKinney & Jose Arce

May 2016 016

Ongoing Commitment to Better Service

Jose Arce  was recently certified as a Technician Type 1 in air conditioning and refrigeration by Mainstream Engineering Corporation, an EPA approved testing organization.  This certification is mandatory for those performing maintenance, service, repair or disposal of an appliance that contains refrigerants.

James McKinney has met the criteria established by the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) for certification as a Composite Boat Builder.  The course includes construction, production and advanced manufacturing processes, structural details and hardware installation, quality assurance and safety & environmental compliance.


Team TMI & JCB Mud Fest (20th June 2016)

Early one Saturday morning on a mercifully overcast day in June, Team TMI joined forces with 1400 others to participate in the JCB 5th Annual Mud Fest, a charitable event stretching 5 miles over the boggiest, muddiest, nastiest, wettest, swampiest man-made course in the area!  Not one of us broke any land-speed records, nor did any of us come first in our class but we all reached the finish line with no life changing injuries, yet with fun memories and exaggerated accounts of the challenging obstacles on the course.  The event raised money for the Lady Bamford Center – which provides education and social skill development to children from 6 weeks old to 5 years in age assisting children and families in every community where JCB maintains a manufacturing facility.   As hard as it might be to believe how much enjoyment the activity generated,  our enthusiasm has encouraged more employees of TMI to plan their participation in next year’s event!

Local Industry Support

River Services / River Supply

John Lyons, founding owner of River Services opened the doors in 1975 within the GA Port Authority as a small industrial supply store servicing and repairing life raft  in conjunction with fire safety equipment needs.  So successful was he, that John’s son Hal, expanded the operation in 1994 by relocating and adding a retail store (River Supply) in Thunderbolt, only 1/2 a mile from our facility and within easy access for the boating community.

The company grew exponentially, so Hal took on vendors such as Blue Seas, Awlgrip & Interlux, Pettit, Zodiac, Stearns and Perko. Hal’s brother Stephen took on the reins for the servicing aspect within the company which continued to thrive becoming FAA, DOT, Lloyds and Coastguard approved.

Working closely with Thunderbolt Marine Inc., River Supply and River Services have been instrumental in providing several services for yard tasks and operations, while delivering expert advice, guidance and vendor support.  This close relationship has made it possible for River Supply / River Services to provide quality products at competitive prices allowing for discounts to TMI and their customers.

We see it as a win-win!

Employee Spotlight – Robbie Douberly

Johnnie Beasley
Production Manager
Johnnie, known primarily for his rigging skills and his longtime association with the marine industry in this area, had a background in automated door systems, electronics and hydraulics before starting up his own business (Beasley Marine) rigging sail boats ranging from 24 to 64 feet which was of far more interest to him.  Entirely self-taught, he went on to work as a rigging subcontractor for Palmer Johnson Inc., before becoming their Rigging Foreman  and then with Hinckley Yacht Services before finding his place as Rigging Foreman at Thunderbolt Marine Inc.  Recently Johnnie received a well-deserved promotion to Production Manager of the entire yard making us the beneficiaries of his years of experience
and knowledge in the marine refit industry.

Married to wife Michelle who is an RN and with one daughter, Johnnie now lives on Wilmington Island but was born and raised in Thunderbolt with his brother Mark (Foreman of the Metal Department). Both have witnessed the demise of the fishing industry on their doorstep which was once prolific in the neighborhood, but has been taken over by commercial enterprises and private residences.  Johnnie was a volunteer fireman for 20 years. He enjoys camping and boating, but his passion of 30 years lies in boar hunting by bow and arrow.

Shelter From The Rain

Some months ago thanks to a visiting crew member, TMI was made aware of a charity for single mothers in our own area. With the holidays approaching and the spirit of giving so much on people’s minds, we hosted a drive to benefit those in need of the most basic items. An e-blast was sent out to all the customers in the yard and to all our workforce requesting canned foods, hygiene & paper products and other essential items to cope with daily life.
The motor yacht Copasetic was the first to kick the ball rolling. They pulled out all the stops with a very generous donation including basics, gift cards and fun items for kids, which challenged the rest of us to take it up a notch if we could. Soon piles and piles of much needed items and some luxuries were accumulating in the front office with daily deliveries from employees, the visiting yachts and even some subcontractors.

On the 22nd December, Judy Salzman (Project AdminisSFRtrator) and Karen Pranschke (Customer Services Rep) loaded up with help, two SUV’s filled to the brim with a remarkable amount and variety of goods to hand over to very worthy organization called SHELTER FROM THE RAIN based here in Savannah through a local church. We are understandably, extremely proud of how successful our call for help was and how enthusiastically everyone rallied around – and most importantly, we are so very grateful to all of those of who found space in their hearts to make such an unselfish gesture during a season when all too readily, we often only think of our immediate loved ones.