He was born in Toronto, raised in Ireland, spent several years working in the Virgin Islands, lived for another dozen or so in Florida and now calls Kelowna home.
It’s been quite the life so far for Mark Fry, who is the latest member of the Top 40 Over 40 list that is presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and BDO Canada.
Despite living all over the world, Fry’s passion for his new hometown and his home country runs deep. He proves that through the way he runs his boat company, Templar Marine Group.
“When I read the statistics on the number of boats that are brought in from the States every year, it absolutely irks me,” Fry says in his Irish brogue, noting that 70 per cent of the $2 billion in Canadian boat sales every year are imported from the U.S.
“That’s what ticks me off. Why aren’t Canadians buying Canadian boats? And they’re also paying another 25 per cent when you compare the U.S. dollar to the Canadian dollar. So what we’re trying to do is source as many parts as we possibly can that are made in Canada.”
Templar Marine has been busy working on a line of electric boats, and Fry’s dream is that more Canadians—43 per cent of which go boating each year—will want to buy them for the right reasons.
“Built in the Okanagan, made in Kelowna,” Fry says. “It creates local employment.”
Fry has spent most of his adult life on the water, and it all started when he walked into a Vancouver Irish bar called Blarney Stone. He met a music producer at the bar, and the next thing Fry knew he was performing on the producer’s 92-foot yacht. It took off from there.
“He taught me how to navigate and taught me how to sail,” Fry says. “I left and spent five years in the Irish navy and then 15 years on my own doing super yacht stuff and sailing around the world.”
Fry, 59, has been a superyacht captain, a master of yachts instructor, and he is the founder and managing director of International Yacht Training Worldwide, which operates 300 nautical schools in 58 countries.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life,” Fry says. “This is my fourth or fifth rodeo now in terms of companies I’ve started. I’m not averse to taking risks, that’s for sure. But I didn’t see any risk in (Templar Marine Group). Every car manufacturing company in the world is going electric now. It was only a matter of time before somebody like us came up with a boat that ticked all the boxed for everybody.”
Fry and his family took a trip to Big White Ski Resort more than a decade ago because the kids had never seen snow. They liked what the pictures of Kelowna summers looked like, so they came back a few months later. They were hooked and made the move shortly thereafter.
“We moved up lock, stock and barrel,” Fry says, “and we brought our yacht-training business with us.”
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