March 22, 2024

Chula Vista

35th Annual Dinner: A Tribute to Family-Owned Businesses on the San Diego Waterfront by The Engel Family

Entrepreneurs of small businesses create the backbone of America, and it’s no different on the San Diego Waterfront. Small business owners take risks—they put in countless hours of their own time, money and resources to see their vision come to port. They make sacrifices. They face adversity. They rise to occasions. They help shape the customer experience, and in most instances, improve lives.

The successful ones adapt, reinvent and/or evolve with the times. While some may only last a few years and others decades, one thing is certain—every single small business has been critical in the growth and development of a diversified and balanced port.

This is true for The Engel Family who has launched, developed and successfully operated five companies on the San Diego Waterfront since 1977. Starting with Southwest Marine, a shipyard located in Chula Vista mostly serving the tuna fleet and engaging in Naval ship repair, it quickly expanded to five locations nationwide. Southwest Marine and all of its locations were sold in 1997 except the Chula Vista site which became South Bay Boatyard and eventually rebranded to Marine Group Boat Works.

Southwest Marine in 1977 outgrew this Chula Vista location which became South Bay Boatyard and eventually rebranded to Marine Group Boat Works.



Through the Engel’s grit, ingenuity and tenacity, the Port of San Diego now boasts:
Marine Group Boat Works: This West Coast’s only world-class superyacht refit and commercial boatbuilding facility draws international attention from notable customers including prime ministers, royalty, celebrities and executives from Fortune 500 companies including Apple, Google, Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft. It also provides commercial and government repair and new construction to the U.S. Navy, fellow Port Tenants including NASSCO, Pacific Tugboat Services, San Diego Maritime Museum and areas including San Francisco, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Los Angeles. Neighbors to the Chula Vista Bayfront development, Marine Group has contributed more than $3 billion to the local economy since it rebranded in 2007. It has since expanded across the border to Cabo and employs 200 incredibly skilled craftsmen and women.
Flagship Cruises & Events: San Diego’s oldest running passenger vessel company, serving San Diego since 1915. Flagship vessels have connected millions of passengers to the water through ferry rides, whale watching tours, harbor and dinner cruises and private events. It can be credited to the Engels for bringing back ferry service to Coronado in 1987 after it was discontinued due to the construction of the bridge. Flagship Cruises & Events carries more than one million passengers each year.
Fifth Avenue Landing: This boutique superyacht marina in the heart of Downtown San Diego has 12 slips in high-demand all year round. The marina alone brings superyacht owners and crew from all over the world to San Diego. The local economic impact from superyachts docked at Fifth Avenue Landing have generated more than $140 million since the grand opening in 2009.
Coronado Ferry Landing: Developed in 1987, this became the destination for the Coronado ferry. The Engels envisioned a place that would bring people closer to the water doing the things they loved the most – dining, shopping and enjoying the breathtaking views.
Marine Group Global Services: The newest company in the Engel’s portfolio, Global Services provides consultation and specialized marine services for clients worldwide. Because of the Engel’s long history of successfully developing and implementing marine capital improvement projects and expertise in ship repair, Global Services offers consultation for shipyards, boat storage facilities, superyacht marinas and vessel operations and maintenance along the West Coast, Mexico, Middle East and Singapore.

While each company varies in products and services, there’s consistency in being owned by one family. With the Engels, you can expect:
• Five-star service
• Employees are family
• A commitment to the community and environmental sustainability with goals to operating zero-emissions facilities and equipment
• Constant improvement to better the companies for the people



The Engel Family is pleased to share their vision of the future with you in the following projects that have been proposed to the Port:

Bay-wide Ferry System: This will be San Diego’s first water transportation system that will transport residents and visitors all over the bay including Coronado, Downtown/Convention Center, Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Chula Vista bayfront. These high-speed ferries will significantly reduce traffic and offset emissions from vehicles

Greener Boatbuilding & Repair: Marine Group Boat Works’ Chula Vista yard is on the brink of a multi-million dollar modernization project which will boast the largest solar power installation on the Port, a brand new docking system and a Tier 4 variable width 820-ton Travelift capable of hauling boats of many sizes and widths up to 250 feet.

Coronado Ferry Landing Enhancements: In a comprehensive redevelopment project, the Ferry Landing will receive an all new facelift and add a high caliber restaurant to its existing list of premier mixed-use tenants.
A healthy future for small business owners and the Port is to leave behind a legacy that leaves a memorable impression on consumers without forgetting who they’re here to serve – the environment, community, employees and their children.

To fellow small businesses on the San Diego Waterfront, you do not go unnoticed. We thank you for your service, diversity and the risks you take to bring us all closer to the water.

Thank you to the Engel Family Businesses for being San Diego Working Waterfront’s Title Sponsors for the 35th Anniversary Dinner.

Share + Next

Similar Posts