Smooth sailing: Suntex Marinas sets standard for safety through inspections & maintenance excellence

“We’re seeing a reduction in work comp over the past three years. Despite the fact that the company has grown and we have more employees, our modifier, which is how they set a rate for our insurance, has decreased year after year. I like to attribute that to safety management.”

-Tom Delotto, Senior Director of Safety & Compliance

Key results:

  • Better insurance rates
  • Reduction in workers’ comp claims
  • Improved liability, accident & injury prevention


Suntex Marinas owns and manages marina properties across the country. And they’re pretty darn good at it.

The growing company has established itself as a leading player in the marina industry through exceptional customer service, quality management and conscious contributions to local communities. They like to say they’re all about creating memorable experiences on the water.

But for marinas, there are a lot of moving pieces and equipment to account for in making that fun in the sun possible.

That’s where our story begins: the challenge of safely managing and maintaining all the equipment that powers their business.

The challenge

Tom Delotto, Suntex Marinas’ Senior Director of Safety & Compliance, likes to keep things simple.

“At the end of the day, we’re working hard to keep people safe,” he says.

In practice, managing safety and compliance for a large marina company is a bit more complex than that.

Prior to him joining the company, there was no safety and compliance role. He’s built that function from the ground up, which has required creating processes that previously did not exist.

“We weren’t tracking the data,” Delotto said. “The concern was, we were seeing increases in our underwriting that were triggered by incidents and accidents, specifically workman’s compensation, liability on the properties and other hazards.”

It’s critical that marina operators keep several safety and compliance standards in mind at all times.

A labyrinth of standards and regulations

Operators must comply with OSHA standards for training and inspection of powered equipment. This means that every piece of engine-powered equipment must be inspected prior to use — many of them daily.

Plus, national electric code standards dictate that marinas’ power systems do not present any safety hazards. This also requires inspections, and insurance carriers may be using these standards to make decisions about whether or not to pay for claims.

“Imagine managing a paper checklist system to inspect all powered equipment on the property each day if needed — forklifts, golf carts, tractors, mowers, trucks, work barges, and more,” Delotto said. “Plus fuel tank inspections.”

According to Delotto, the EPA requires them to inspect above-ground and underground storage tanks once per month, and all the equipment associated with it.

That’s a lot of assets that need to be regularly inspected and maintained. And previously, they were doing all this using paper.

Delotto knew he needed help.

Without a digital solution for conducting inspections, tracking issues and managing maintenance data, the business was vulnerable.

“Liability is getting more expensive,” he said. “If you screw something up, that could result in us being sued.”

Delotto turned to Whip Around as Suntex Marina’s inspection and maintenance platform.

The solution

For a business with as many interconnected parts as Suntex Marinas, implementing a new software tool can be challenging. Especially when it covers aspects of the entire organization and you’re establishing new processes.

But once team members see Whip Around in action, they’re easily convinced.

“Colleagues who’ve experienced an OSHA investigation or an accident of some kind at their properties, where the Whip Around app has come into play, they use it for the verification of doing the inspections of equipment,” Delotto said. “Frankly, it solves a lot of problems.”

The team started by implementing a system for tracking inspections and maintaining machinery. Once that proved successful, they started expanding to other assets like cars, trucks and forklifts.

It didn’t take long for Whip Around to become an essential part of the routine.

“The equipment operators begin embracing the use of the app because it becomes part of their standard operating procedures and it also increases their awareness of the condition of their vehicles, of their trucks and their forklifts — especially forklifts,” Delotto said.

Endless inspection and maintenance possibilities

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Other assets they’ve added or plan to add include:

  • Heavy boat lifts and travel lifts
  • Lawnmowers and golf carts
  • Crane barges
  • Boats and engines
  • Docks and slips
  • Storage spots
  • Restroom facilities
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Emergency lighting
  • Dispensers, sumps and control equipment
  • Gators and tractors
  • Slip power pedestals
  • OEM warranties

And that’s not even an exhaustive list.

“We have a lot of equipment to inspect, you know, stuff that’s inherently dangerous to begin with,” Delotto said.

Suntex is also subject to regulations from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which oversees all fuel requirements. Whip Around has come in handy here, too.

“The last thing you want is to have a spill,” Delotto said. “That’s a bad thing. You don’t want to have a fire. You don’t want to have an electrical problem. There’s a possibility that people are exposed to shock from current leakage.”

Training and education

Implementing Whip Around across the business has led to an ancillary benefit: more internal awareness of regulatory requirements and standards.

With less formal inspection and maintenance processes, some folks didn’t realize these laws existed. Training has led to adoption, which has led to understanding, which has led to accountability.

“It’s been an eye-opener for a lot of managers,” Delotto said. “Before, everyone defaulted to ‘I just didn’t know.’ I’m happy to report that, among the people I work with on a daily basis, awareness has skyrocketed in the past couple of years.”

The results

With minimal historical data to compare to, it’s tough for Delotto to assign a dollar amount to Whip Around’s impact. But he’s confident it has been massive.

It starts with operator awareness that comes with inspecting equipment daily.

“We’re identifying maintenance issues that then bubble up to the top,” Delotto said. “Where instead of having a catastrophic event where we drop a boat, we’re realizing we have a hydraulic hose that’s starting to weep or it’s leaking or it’s a problem or it’s rotten or whatever it might be.”

With Whip Around, they’re catching defects they previously may have missed. And the benefits of documenting those defects can’t be overstated.

“The idea is that it prevents liability,” Delotto said. “We hope that that prevents an event, accident or an injury.”

Real business impact

Enhancing safety and compliance has had a positive domino effect for Suntex. The impact is perhaps most evident in their workers’ compensation and insurance rates.

“We’re seeing a reduction in work comp over the past three years,” Delotto said. “Despite the fact that the company has grown and we have more employees, our modifier, which is how they set a rate for our insurance, has decreased year after year. I like to attribute that to safety management.”