Setting the Sails of the Bay Area’s Maritime Community

Jul 16, 2012

The San Francisco Bay Area is surrounded by beautiful bay waters and the Pacific Ocean where a community of boating enthusiasts from beginners to experts enjoy their favorite recreational pastime 12 months out of the year.

Paul Kaplan and Ken Keefe, Bay Area natives and the founders of Keefe Kaplan Maritime (KKMI), have been passionate about boats and sailing since their teens. Paul studied marine biology and worked part time as a yacht broker while Ken grew up in and around boats and participated in several America’s Cup races. Naturally, the two men also shared a commitment to the environment and water management.

Paul and Ken first joined forces in the 1990s, launching a business that answered the need for reliable maintenance and repair services for boating vessels – commercial and recreational, big and small – in the Bay Area. KKMI’s vision was to grow a business and establish a facility to repair boats with top craftsmanship at a great value – all the while being environmentally friendly and conscious. And as they grew, they needed a financial services provider to help them buoy their success.

“Bank of America worked hard and fast to understand our business,” said KKMI President Paul Kaplan. “As a small business and in relatively uncommon market, we needed everything from lines of credit, to lending, to purchase land at new locations, equipment lease lines, merchant services, credit cards, even foreign exchanges to buy boat parts from all over the world. It’s really hard to find all those services from any bank and through one great local client manager, we’re able to access everything.”

KKMI currently employ 54 employees at two distinct locations: their first in Point Richmond, which enjoys the deepest water channel allowing larger boats and yachts to be serviced, and the second in Sausalito which primarily serves smaller boating needs. The Sausalito boatyard was an old, abandoned property – a ground up, build out project. The partners developed a plan, hired local tradesmen to facilitate the job, and turned to Bank of America for innovative and quick financing solutions to make their plan a reality. 

“We would not have started our newest location in Sausalito without the support and assistance from Bank of America,” Paul added, “More than just funding, they provide us with the tools to forecast where we might go in the future to grow. I’m continuously impressed at how such a big organization as Bank of America, has been able to bring such a small business feel to our relationship over all these years.”

Today, KKMI is a recognized leader in the local boat repair industry in the San Francisco Bay Area with superior knowledge and a skilled crew – “advocates through the entire boating experience.” Dedicated to their clients as well as the community they live and work in, KKMI has been recognized as stewards of the environment and by the California Water Environmental Association Small Industry of the Year twice in the last 10 years. 

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