Bob Ptak started in the marine surveying business in 2001.  He developed the "3D NewAge Focus" software, which is marine surveying software based on the 3D Inspection System.  UPDATE: Bob has since retired from Marine Survey related items and is enjoying his retirement.  Best wishes to you Bob.  We're leaving his success story as part of his legacy.

Bob shared with us how he got into the marine surveying business. “I have owned boats for nearly 40 years. During that time I learned from many professional marine service experts the right way to perform maintenance, repairs etc. I also did a lot of reading on the boating rules and regulations and offered assistance and recommendations to a lot of people on my dock and at my marina with their boat problems. Many folks encouraged me along the way to become a marine surveyor.

 “About 15 years ago, I sold a boat, and the buyers had it surveyed. I spoke at length to the surveyor about his role and duties and looked over his checklist. It was then that I knew that after I retired from my corporate job that I would enter the marine survey profession as a second career. I made this decision many years before I actually retired from my corporate life and started to read more about surveying and the issues surveyors can come across.

“After I retired from my corporate job, I immediately went to school at Chapmans School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida and enrolled in their Marine Surveyor curriculum.  It was a very intense program but taught me a lot, compared to what I thought I already knew.

“I have been doing marine surveys ever since I graduated from Chapmans and my business has been growing ever since.”

We asked Bob to share with us his business philosophy. He said, “The most important thing is to do a good job. Be honest, open, and maintain integrity with the client. Don’t rush through the inspection. I make sure that I report everything large or small  and follow-up with my clients to make sure they understand the report findings. I strive to treat people in a professional manner.

“For those clients new to boating, I try to educate them about boat ownership. I also recommend that new boaters attend a Power Squadron boating safety course in their area. A lot of people, when they buy their first boat, don’t know as much as they need to know about owning a boat.
I like to help people understand what they are getting into when they purchase a boat by educating them on maintenance techniques, and how to avoid problems.”

Bob shared with us the best way to get into the marine surveying business, when he said. “I would recommend that experience working in a boatyard in a maintenance or service department, where one can learn the intricacies of boat construction and repair of systems is the best way. The other way would be if one is mechanically inclined and do a lot of your own service work over many years as I have done, however in my opinion, this is a much more difficult path to follow.

“I should mention that even if one works in a boatyard, he/she should attend a good surveying school, such as the Chapman School of Seamanship. It’s a pretty tough program that will open your eyes to the many facets of surveying and you will find out there is much more to learn. I learn something almost every day in this business, so the learning never stops.”

Bob then explained the various associations that marine surveyors frequently belong to, and which associations he personally belongs to. “NAMS -National Association of Marine Surveyors and SAMS -Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors are the two major professional marine surveyor organizations in the USA.  It’s an individual decision, which one a person wants to belong to, but SAMS and NAMS are the most widely recognized organizations by Insurance companies, boat buyers and boat brokers. ABYC - American Boat and Yacht Council is another. ABYC is the leading standards setting group for the boating industry so it is highly recommended that a surveyor also belong to ABYC since the system standards have to be understood in order to do your job as a surveyor. NFPA- The National Fire Protection Association, and IAMI -International Association of Marine Investigators, are also two other associations that many surveyors belong to.

“I personally belong to SAMS and ABYC. Both organizations promote education and training to stay current. I also receive a lot of publications from NFPA.”

Bob then shared his advice on how to succeed in the marine surveying business. “Stay educated to keep current and promote yourself as a marine surveyor. Also, in today’s world a surveyor should really have a website, and mine does really well for me. Offer to speak to boating groups such as the Power Squadron, Yacht Clubs and Insurance companies.  Hand out business cards at boat shows and introduce yourself to people in the boating business Insurance companies and marinas to promote yourself. Make yourself visible to everyone in the boating industry. Above all do a thorough inspection and provide a professional looking survey report to clients.”

Bob shared with us how he differentiates his work from his competitors. “The survey report is the final end product to all the clients and is a direct reflection of your knowledge and abilities as a professional marine surveyor. My development of the 3D NewAge Focus program is a result of pursuing the best possible reporting tool for surveyors to use.  It allows me to produce a report that is head and shoulders above any other marine survey report I have seen.  I treat clients in a professional manner. I explain findings, and educate the buyer on how to care for the boat. I’m very thorough, and my report reflects my thoroughness. If I miss something, the client may find it, and realize that I missed it. That does not bode well for my reputation. So I double check everything before I release the report. The quality, thoroughness, and accuracy of the survey reports are extremely important. Also producing a report that is not too technical, laid out in an easy to read logical manner is important to me and led to the birth of the NewAge Marine Survey Reporting system-Focus Edition.

“I also stay up to date and current with new technology, rules, and regulations. That is a key part of being a professional. I attend numerous educational conferences throughout the year. Most of them are from SAMS and NAMS, but also ABYC.  There are also Damage Survey Classes and other specialty classes available.  I also belong to the worldwide marine surveyor email exchange group or mailing list, where marine surveyors from all around the world pose questions or provide answers about various marine surveying topics.  Both SAMS and NAMS members have these mailing lists available to them.”

Bob revealed how long it takes to do a typical marine survey. “An average 30 foot yacht takes me 4 to 6 hours. If a client requests that I conduct a sea-trial, this can take an extra 1 to 1.5 hours. For larger yachts in the 50-60 foot range, survey inspections can take 2-3 days. After the inspection I still have to write the report, summarize my observations, discrepancies and recommendations, and determine the fair market value and replacement cost.”

Bob shared with us what he likes and dislikes about the marine surveying business. “Well… First the likes. I’m a people person and like being around people especially boat people. I also like the water and being on boats… both power and sail. I enjoy the inspection process and looking “under the cover” of boats. I like the educational part of helping people understand their boats' systems.  I actually enjoy putting the report together using the NewAge Marine Survey Reporting System since it is so easy and quick to use.  I can write most reports in just a few hours, whereas using my old software it used to take 6-10 hours or more. I also like being in control of my own schedule (for the most part).

“And my dislikes… My biggest dislike is lengthy travel times to get to/from a survey site. To my way of thinking, travel time is unproductive time. Many times  surveying older vessels can also be challenging as older vessels, over 20 years old can have a lot of problems to note and take much longer to examine and to write the report.  Another dislike is that sometimes I have to wait for yard personnel to pull the clients boat out of the water or launch it.”


Robert Ptak
Lakeshore Professional Marine Surveys, LLC.
3098 View Point
Jenison, MI. 49428
United States