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Marine Life

Marine Life

A look inside the National Marine Training Center

By Paul Koscak, photos by Glenn Fawcett

Churned by a stiff evening breeze, the sea grew rough as the crew aboard a sleek interceptor searched in the dark for a reported smuggler. Then a blip with coordinates to the suspect flashed on the boat’s radar. Wasting no time, the commander of Air and Marine Operations’ 39-foot Midnight Express hollered for the crew to hold on and pushed the throttles full forward.

The boat’s four 225 horse-power Mercury engines roared. As the accelerating hull hit the swells, it boomed like a kettle drum and sprayed water over the deck with a hiss. Bouncing from the waves at more than 50 knots, the vessel at times became airborne for an instant then slammed onto the water with a hollow thud, shaking the boat.

As the interceptor sped to its target, the crew checked their equipment and prepared for the unknown. That blip could be anything from a family setting sail to a ship overloaded with illegal aliens to a similar high-speed vessel with well-armed runners determined to deliver their contraband.

Using night-vision goggles, the navigator finally spotted the shrouded vessel and shouted headings over the din, guiding the commander through the dark for the intercept.

The gap rapidly narrowed. Now, just feet away, the commander gave the signal. Instantly, the interceptor’s powerful flood lights and blue strobes illuminated the craft and the surrounding sea, stunning the unsuspecting subjects. The pursuers stood ready to board.

"Failure to heave-to [stop] is a felony," said Martin "Marty" Wade, the National Marine Training Center’s director since 2012.

Wade’s law enforcement career goes back to 1995, starting as a U.S. customs inspector and later a marine enforcement officer in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. "There were only a handful of us back then," he recalled. Wade advanced to a marine supervisor and marine director in Miami and eventually served as director of marine operations in Washington, D.C., before arriving at the center.

While the simulated chase and all its drama happened as described, marine interdiction agents crewed the suspect craft. The episode is one of many realistic experiences those attending AMO’s National Marine Training Center in St. Augustine, Florida, can expect and where U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with other federal, state, local and even foreign law enforcement organizations turn to keep their maritime skills sharp. International participants have included law enforcers from Paraguay, Malaysia, Ecuador, French West Indies and Colombia.

Officers in a classroom

Immense task

More than 500 marine interdiction and U.S. Border Patrol agents visit the center every year, taking courses covering basic and advanced maritime skills, recurrent certifications and specialized tactics used to protect the nation’s coasts, lakes and rivers.

That job is accomplished in a remarkably nondescript building with two classrooms and adjoining dock that accommodates 30 vessels.

"Don’t be fooled by our small size," Wade stressed.

Just six AMO and six U.S. Border Patrol instructors teach 50 classes per year. In 2016, they chalked up an amazing 25,700 student training hours. Naturally, the high demand means a heavy workload, but it also means small classes so agents receive more one-on-one training.

Instruction is so valuable and comprehensive that members of the U.S. Navy special warfare units, special warfare combat craft operators and the Navy’s sea, air and land or SEAL special operations force train at the center.

Vessel commander, marine instructor, tactical boarding officer, marine tactics instructor, small boat interdiction and use-of-force are among the classes in most demand where participants confront multiple law enforcement challenges and practice maneuvers not possible in the field.

At the same time, the center strives to keep courses up-to-date to tackle evolving threats. "If we’re not moving ahead, we’re moving backwards," Wade said. "I want our marine agents to come through the door and be excited to train. The last thing I want to hear is ‘your training is not relevant.’"

Academics and application is balanced and everyone is trained to the same high standard regardless if they patrol the Rio Grande, the Great Lakes or the South Florida coast.

Improving marine units through standard training is central to the center’s mission, which delivers a highly skilled and mobile force that can quickly deploy to any of CBP’s marine locations.

Standardization allows regions to do more with limited resources, said Jeff Eccles, a supervisory marine interdiction agent from the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch taking the vessel commander recertification course. Eccles said his region regularly augments locations in other parts of the country. "You need to rely on those you don’t normally work with during the year," he added.

Class training

Supervisory Marine Interdiction Agent and Instructor Ken Kilroy points out the tactics to expect when the class takes to the water.

Long arm training

Hitting moving targets at the right spot can be tricky as Supervisory Marine Interdiction Agent Chris Gallaspy from the Corpus Christi Marine Unit, Texas, takes careful aim.

Practicing tactics

Practicing tactics to safely board a vessel is an important part of the National Marine Training Center’s curriculum.

Agents typically spend a half day in class studying the procedures they’ll later practice on the water. Settings replicate real-world possibilities, just as the Midnight Express crew confronted during their evening intercept.

Procedures for successful intercepts, for instance, require teamwork and challenge vessel commanders to mentally picture the boat’s path, calculate position by course and speed, monitor the radar and listen for headings all at once, said Andres "Andy" Blanco, a supervisory marine interdiction agent and instructor. "Most suspect vessels won’t know you’re there," he pointed out.

"This job is for people who can think quickly and react," offered Antonio "Tony G" Gammillaro, a supervisory marine interdiction agent from the Miami Marine Unit, taking the vessel commander recertification course. "When you’re only feet from someone at night, no lights, it’s one of the most challenging jobs in all CBP."

As real as can be

Tactics to apprehend craft whether for a document check, inspection or for any reason is an important part of the program.

Agents in training chase a craft crewed by instructors playing the suspects who apply all the tricks evaders use to escape. The instructors deliver.

They zigzag. They dodge. They make sharp, abrupt turns, sometimes banking so forcefully the top side of their vessel nearly skims the water. But like a chess game, the pursuers anticipate and thwart each break-away.

Another boat intercepts. The commander maneuvers from one side of the fleeing craft to the other, studying its occupants. That assessment determines the tactics agents will use when boarding a vessel. Throughout the exercise, agents communicate and coordinate and there’s a primary boarding officer in charge, Blanco said.

Then it begins again. Another crew becomes the bad guys and another vessel commander takes the interceptor’s helm.

To ensure safety, two interceptors will parallel each side of a captured but overloaded vessel. Just as a bicycle rider will fall without enough forward speed, an overloaded boat can capsize for the same reason.

Runners can ultimately be stopped using shotguns that shoot projectiles designed to disable engines. Before resorting to disabling fire as it’s called, agents will first use other methods such as projecting authority and verbal commands. If those tactics are unsuccessful, they will fire warning shots toward the vessel.

Since disabling fire training isn’t authorized in the field, the center offers plenty of opportunity. Live fire is done several miles at sea, in "blue water." Blue water defines the open ocean, where the shore is just a line on the horizon.

"You never know who’s out there—murderers trying to escape, weapons traffickers, those with warrants," said Scott Leach, supervisory marine interdiction agent and the center’s deputy director. "That’s why we invest so heavily in our vessel commanders."

Wade recalled a boat trafficking Haitians from the Bahamas to Florida. That night, winds were brisk and waves topped seven feet as their vessel raced for the beach, now just 50 yards away. When the smugglers realized the breaking surf prevented them from reaching the shore, they ordered the Haitians to swim the rest of the way. Many couldn’t. The next morning, bodies were found along West Palm Beach. "Smugglers have no regard for life," Wade said.

Rapid shotgun blasts ring out as Marine Interdiction Agent Eli Palma from the San Diego Marine Unit practices disabling fire at a simulated run-away vessel. Supervisory Air and Marine Agent and Instructor Andres “Andy” Blanco evaluates.

Disabling fire

Disabling fire

Shooters practice disabling fire on plastic outboard engines and human torso dummies affixed to a bullet-riddled target craft at the end of a long line being towed by another vessel. They role play the pursuit vessel and the conditions are challenging. Their vessel bobs from side-to-side, spray fills the air and there’s a brisk wind. Agents hand out shotguns, ammunition and ear protection, yelling over the engines noise. Today, disabling fire won’t be easy.

The target approaches. At the vessel commander’s signal, the shooter goes into action and directs a rapid, ear-ringing fusillade at the dummies. Then the exercise repeats—another commander and shooter will show their skills.

Center staff instruct on six interceptor vessels. Four are long and sleek multi-engine boats with pointed and extended hulls ranging from 39 to 41 feet that can reach speeds of nearly 70 miles per hour. The newest interceptor—and the center’s largest—is 41 feet with four 350 horse-power engines. It weighs 22,000 pounds—nearly 6,000 pounds more than the other three—and can travel 74 miles per hour.

AMO’s other two interceptors are SAFE boats: 33- foot and 38-foot vessels. The smaller craft at 13,300 pounds has three 300 horse-power engines and can travel 51 miles per hour. The other weighs 18,000 pounds has four 300 horse-power engines and tops out at 57 miles per hour. SAFE stands for Secure All-around Flotation Equipped, denoting the vessel’s wrap-around foam collar, providing added stability and buoyancy.

Training also covers the riverine world—rivers and lakes, where the Border Patrol operates 207 vessels.

In the bay just off the center’s dock, U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare to tow a disabled boat. It’s a delicate task. As their 21-foot riverine shallow draft vessel, or RSDV, gently glides alongside the stranded boat, the agents tell the occupants how to prepare for the tow. When the two vessels finally touch, agents unravel coiled lines and carefully tie the two craft together. In this case, the RSDV performs a side tow.

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent and Instructor Mike Arietta evaluates the maneuver. "Make sure they understand what you want," he tells them. "It’s one of the most dangerous times when two boats are next to each other. You can lose fingers."

Agents practice two types of towing, Arietta said— side tows for short distances in calm water and stern towing for long distances in rough water.

RSDVs are perfect for shallow water, said Border Patrol Agent Alberto Casasus from the Del Rio Sector, taking the initial vessel commander course. Casasus patrols Lake Amistad, a lake that extends into Mexico.

By funneling water through its 260 horse-power water-jet engine, an RSDV can hydroplane, he said. "You can stop in 11 inches of water," Casasus noted, or operate in "just four inches if you keep moving." RSDVs can travel nearly 35 miles per hour.

SAFE and RSDV craft, 12-foot inflatable powered boats, air boats and 16-foot, low-draft connectors that resemble small recreational craft, are used at the center for riverine and special operations training. Agents can earn certifications in any of these vessels, said L. Keith Weeks, a supervisory border patrol agent and instructor.

Training

Calling the shots

While speed, tactics and firepower give AMO agents the edge, the real advantage is the training and experience that allow AMO vessel commanders to authorize disabling fire without supervisory concurrence. This authority gives AMO the capability to disable non-compliant vessels, stop dangerous pursuits quickly and prevent these vessels from reaching our shores. CBP is the only federal agency that delegates this authority to its operators regardless of rank, Wade confirmed. "There’s a tremendous amount of trust and responsibility given to our agents when making critical use-of-force decisions," he said. "That’s huge." Since 2003, AMO has engaged in 126 events involving marine warning and disabling fire.

However, the center prepares commanders to use good judgment since they’re accountable to act within policy. For example, deciding when and where to pursue a vessel. Offshore pursuits give agents more control and little chance for violators to escape.

Thanks to a business mindset, the center gets the most from its $1.08 million dollar budget, where efficiency and quality training go hand-in-hand.

The center has its own fueling station. Buying in bulk cuts costs and time since vessels no longer travel to offsite marinas to fill up at retail prices. To eliminate airfare, attendees from Florida and Louisiana must drive to the center. Rental cars are shared and the center negotiated with three area hotels to provide rooms at $33 below the government rate. Those measures alone save more than $60,000 per year, Wade said, while the center pumps more than $600,000 into the local economy.

More savings are captured through the center’s maintenance facility which keeps vessels in top shape at well below the going rate. Training vessels demand more attention because the constant maneuvering places greater stress and wear on the craft compared to regular operations.

"We never had to keep a class over because of maintenance issues," Wade said. "Our dedicated technicians work day and night to support the mission."

Marine Interdiction Agent Jon Rose from Erie Marine Unit, Pennsylvania, navigates a vessel during his yearly recurrent vessel commander course.

Navigates a vessel
Interceptor

AMO Launches Next Generation Interceptor

To enhance operations, AMO is planning to add at least 52 next generation interceptors to its arsenal of vessels. Through a contract with SAFE Boats International, the new interceptors will feature an advanced hull design, safety equipment and electronics, providing agents with a high level of protection, mobility reliability.

The vessels are designed to meet emerging Department of Homeland Security mission requirements and will be deployed to marine units nationwide, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, southeast Florida and San Diego. They will defend the nation’s coastal waterways combating smugglers and terrorists.

"We are excited to share this new vessel with our stakeholders, including those on Capitol Hill, within our department and the American public whom we serve and protect," said Randolph D. Alles, AMO’s former executive assistant commissioner.

Interceptor



Maintaining the Fleet

Maintaining the Fleet

Bold, can-do attitude gets things done

By Paul Koscak, photos by Glenn Fawcett

Maintenance is key to the National Marine Training Center’s success, National Marine Training Center Director Martin "Marty" Wade notes. "You need world-class support when you have a world-class program."

World-class support takes place nearby at AMO’s huge National Marine Center, a maintenance facility that resembles an industrial park. Buildings for every specialty line both sides of the facility’s quarter-mile central roadway—a rigging shop, engine shop, fiberglass and vinyl shop, machine shop, paint shop, electronics shop, warehouse and parts department and administrative offices. Altogether, there’s more than 178,000 square feet of workspace staffed by 68 Global Maritek Systems technicians and four CBP managers. "There’s really not much that we can’t do here," proclaimed Doug Wagner, the center’s director, who began his career as an aircraft mechanic at just 17 when he entered the Air Force.

Walk into the cavernous rigging and electronics shop—the size of an airplane hangar—where a dozen interceptors on trailers are squeezed side by side, each undergoing some phase of refurbishment. The whines, grinds and rattles of power tools reverberate throughout the building as fiberglass cracks are sealed, electronic systems replaced, propulsion systems upgraded and engines are replaced or overhauled. A few vessels are Coast Guard retirements destined to join the CBP fleet. Even vessels from the West Coast are serviced at the facility, Wagner said.

Completed craft are many times stored in the maintenance facility’s depot for a quick swap with any marine location. Four semi-trailers are on hand ready to deliver.

By contrast, technicians in the electronics shop quietly sit by long workbenches testing, calibrating and fixing all manner of maritime navigation and communication gear. The machine shop also boasts vintage fabricating equipment—lathes, drill presses, milling machines—devices few marine maintenance shops have. The shop can manufacture difficult-to-replace parts or craft entirely new components.

In the fiberglass shop, Border Patrol SAFE boats are refitted with new collars, the component that gives the boat its name. "Our quality is superior," offered supervisor Lee Author. "Where a local marine shop would take three weeks, here we can do it in a week and at just a third of the cost."

As an example, Wagner produced a photograph of an electrical panel refitted by a marina. It showed a chaotic tangle of wires, some bunched with plastic zip ties. "This was a shock," he said, also pointing out the wrong gauge of wire in the mix. The second photo was almost unrecognizable after the facility’s electricians refitted the refit—orderly, clear tracks of properly secured wire taking up less than half the panel.

Under Wagner’s leadership, Global’s 165 technicians not only perform maintenance at St. Augustine but also at 28 other sites throughout the country, including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The company keeps up more than 300 craft along with vessels from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps, saving those agencies and the taxpayer considerable money. Global offers CBP access to the country’s largest parts inventory, on-site warranty work and up to 50 percent off retail part prices.

Another bargain is the customs automated maintenance inventory tracking system or CAMITS. The nation-wide system streamlines procedures, tracks purchases, records repairs, schedules required tasks and projects future maintenance, "and it’s not expensive," added James Warfield, supervisory marine interdiction agent and maintenance deputy director.

Can do

Still, the facility’s most powerful tool isn’t found on some shelf. It’s an attitude. "We ask, and they say yes," is how Wagner describes the technicians. "They will find a way to make it happen."

A crucial creation that keeps vessels from an early trip to the junkyard is an example of their ingenuity.

Over time, an engine’s vibration eventually weakens and breaks the transom, part of a vessel’s stern where the engine is bolted. Like any invention, the breakthrough took numerous trial-and-error and commitment that paid off in a refabricated transom made with certain composite materials that deaden vibration and strengthens the stern. "We invent things," Wagner said, who estimates the beefed-up transom saved the government $3 million and adds about five years to a vessel’s life.

That entrepreneurial mindset is noticed. In 2011, the facility received the Industry Leader Safety Award; in 2012, the commissioner’s Mission Integration Award and in 2013, the Small Business Achievement Award for innovation and cost savings.

Wagner credits the facility’s success to the staff’s sense of purpose. "They embrace our mission," he explained. Technicians take pride in their accomplishments, embrace innovations and are "eager to learn and work for the country and have a high work ethic. Many are former military."

Applicants seeking jobs at the maintenance facility learn from the first interview there’s a higher calling expected as important as exceptional skills.

"Everybody brought on board is told they’re not coming here just to maintain assets," Warfield added. "They’re not just contractors. They’re part of Homeland Security and the mission to protect the United States."

Technicians
Sours: https://www.cbp.gov/frontline/marine-life

On first approach, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop looks like 80 acres of chaos. Five miles west of the ocean, 2000 vendors show up long before sunrise to sell everything from pig snouts to home mortgages. Some of the sellers are full-time pros bent on millionairehood. Some are onetime garage-sale amateurs, come to offload the flotsam and jetsam of suburbia from pickup trucks and vans. This noisy, sunbaked universe of vendors' stalls — America's second-largest flea market and Florida's second-most-popular tourist attraction after Disney World — gives way at dusk to the biggest drive-in movie theater left on Earth. Seven nights per week customers in cars line Sunrise Boulevard just west of I-95, waiting to pay $3.50 apiece and watch the latest Hollywood (California, that is) spectacles on thirteen open-air screens.

The round-the-clock bedlam at the 35-year-old Swap Shop is only skin-deep. Beneath the surface there's an organizing principle (huge crowds, cheap prices), and behind the scenes there is Preston Henn, a 67-year-old hillbilly genius loved and hated by his business associates, but mostly unknown to the 12 million souls who visit the Swap Shop each year. As owner and landlord of South Florida's gaudiest cash cow, Henn rakes in money from each and every vendor's stall through a complex rental structure that changes with the season and time of day: He gets a cut of the revenues from fifteen different restaurants in the enclosed, air-conditioned food court, which includes what may be the busiest McDonald's this side of Moscow. And he collects admission fees for parking, movies, and even walk-in browsers at 25 cents a head.

Fall is slow at the Swap Shop, and rain is disastrous. But on a recent morning, Henn rose at 3:00 a.m., just as he has all his life. Why? "My mind," he snorts. "I got a lot of things on my mind. A lot of things interest me." Henn walks past the Ferrari in the living room of his mansion on Millionaire's Row in Hillsboro Beach; the three-story house fronts the Atlantic. Henn scowls at the bad weather. Then he turns on the computer. "Before it was fashionable, before anyone was doing it, he was reading newspapers off the Internet," says one of Henn's many political friends, Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom. Henn skims the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Daily News. The president of the United States hasn't been impeached yet; Henn, a serious Republican, puts on his second scowl of the day.

With a stroke on the keyboard, Henn switches over to a remote feed from the 78 security cameras that are sprinkled discreetly throughout the Swap Shop. The place is seventeen miles away, but suddenly every vendor, every car, every employee is right there on Henn's glowing computer screen. He zooms in on a cash register; he zooms out for a panoramic view of the east parking lot.

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"I don't ever have to leave my house," Henn explains with diabolical matter-of-factness. "I can sit down at the computer, go into the ticket booth, and watch what the guy's doing. I can look at the timeclock. I can see the vendors checking in at the reservation desk. I have all of that on an interconnected computer system. Same way with my flea market out in Margate — it's all hooked up."

Henn doesn't have to leave his house, but he always does. His temperament, not money or technology, precludes him from governing his retail empire in absentia. Says Bill Markham, long-time Broward County property appraiser: "I thought I was a type A personality until I met Preston Henn." Soon the white-haired, thick-wristed flea market king is wheeling past a hen-shape mailbox, heading south in his wife's canary-color sports car. Sometimes he props a lifelike dummy in the passenger seat. "It's not so I can get in the high-speed lane," he insists. "It's so I don't get robbed."

In 1983, in a white Porsche 935, Henn won one of America's most famous automotive endurance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona. He repeated the performance at Sebring in 1985, and again at Daytona. His teammates included racing legends A.J. Foyt and Al Unser, Sr. In 1984 he placed second at Le Mans. "He would have been first but the French ganged up on him," recalls Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Jack Latona, a frequent breakfast companion of Henn.

Today Henn refuses to talk about his speed-freak days, which also included several death-defying stabs at offshore powerboat racing. He won't say how he fell into these sports in the first place, though it may relate to his boyhood in the mountains of western North Carolina, where moonshine runners gave birth to stock car racing. Nor will he explain why he quit racing, though age seems an obvious answer. "I think he just finally grew some brains is all," says Markham. At any rate, Henn now spends his mornings on a monogrammed golf cart stalking the midways and parking lots of the Swap Shop in jeans and a cowboy hat.

In 1983, in a white Porsche 935, Henn won America's most famous automotive endurance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona.

On the west side of the sprawling market, near the canopied stalls full of hollering electronics merchants, a woman stops Henn to ask where the hairbrushes are. He scratches his chin and admits he doesn't know. The Swap Shop has grown so vast that adults as well as children lose their bearings. The indoor market alone contains two automatic teller machines, a car dealership, a real estate office, a video arcade, a place to buy rebuilt slot machines, and innumerable blinking stands and screeching, yammering vendors displaying samurai swords, cut-rate lingerie, custom license plates, and cheap watches. It also houses an immigration lawyer, who does a brisk business catering to customers from Haiti, Pakistan, and a dozen other countries. "Other attorneys have high-rise towers and walnut furniture, and you pay for it," says Robert Wettergreen, a paralegal. "Here you don't."

The indoor market is a model of peace and order compared to what lies outside. Here a vendor of gospel music cassettes is warring with one of Mexican corrida; both turn the volume up louder and louder, drowning out the nearby specialist in wind chimes. Another entrepreneur sells erotic videos out of a garage-size steel shipping container, and still another trades only in tarps and tape. A forlorn-looking woman offers her entire inventory on a place mat: six plastic coffee percolator caps. The no-frills, rough-and-tumble commerce reflects Henn's complicated personality.

Under normal circumstances the Hanneford Family Circus performs two or three times per day at the Swap Shop. Henn says he spends $1.25 million on this promotional device, which includes a trapeze act, a clown, acrobatic elephants, illusionists, and a performing terrier that salsas to a song called "El Baile de los Perritos" ("The Dance of the Little Dogs"). But this afternoon there's something quite different going on in the circus ring. The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra has come to bring classical music to the masses. Preston Henn stands up in his cowboy hat. He introduces the musicians in his wheezy drawl.

After wrapping up Rossini's William Tell overture, conductor Duilio Dobrin agrees that the hubbub from the nearby food court makes for the worst acoustics he has ever encountered in his life. Nonetheless he declares the show a smash. "We have people out here with no musical culture whatsoever exposed for the first time to music other than electrically produced rock and roll." What does Dobrin, a rank newcomer to Swap Shop culture, think of his new patron?

Striving for diplomacy, in an accent redolent of the Rhine, Dobrin says of Henn: "If I were to see him walking down the street, I'd say this is a man from some remote community not used to the rigors and the life of a big city. He was telling me he would like to attend concerts at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts, but he doesn't have a thing to wear. The understatement of everything he does! The simplicity! It's, uh, something we should think about. Perhaps we don't agree 100 percent with his ways, but there's something to be said about avoiding fancy furs and expensive cars."

Earlier a veteran popcorn vendor watched Henn introduce the orchestra. As the musicians finished their first number, the popcorn man seemed beside himself. "My God, that was amazing!" he exclaimed. What? The music? The bizarre prospect of the philharmonic, faced with an eroding audience and budget, having to acknowledge Preston Henn's ability to draw a crowd? "No!" said the employee. "It's Henn! All these years, that's the first time I've ever heard him speak publicly."

Of course, Henn is pulling the orchestra conductor's leg. He's playing the dumb country boy, one of his favorite personas. In reality he owns more than a few expensive cars and could certainly find something to wear to a concert. He just doesn't care to.

In 1988 Henn showed up at the Marriott Hotel on the beach for a black-tie George Bush fundraiser. He was wearing a tuxedo jacket and a pair of jeans to which he had glued strips of black satin down each leg. There was Bush, and there, next to Henn, sat the director of the local Salvation Army and the pastor of the First Baptist Church.

"Preston used to take a drink pretty good," says a friend who also attended the fundraiser. "So there he is, sitting right in front of the head table with those damn cowboy boots on, right next to this Baptist minister he hadn't been introduced to.

"All of a sudden, someone walks in and Preston starts yelling at him across the room: 'Hey! You know why Baptists don't have sex standing up?' Whoever he's yelling at looks like he wants to melt into the floor, but he says, 'Why?' Preston screams: 'Cause it might lead to dancing!'"

Henn backed Jeb Bush for governor but protests that he's not really involved in politics "except dollarwise." He admits this is like saying he never swims except when doing the backstroke, crawl, breaststroke, or butterfly. Upon request Henn packs his world view in a nutshell: "The Democrats, nationally, will try to tax all your money away and then give it to somebody that don't want to work." But he concedes that most of his political involvement traces directly back to the Swap Shop and has little to do with abstract ideals.

"He's got a relatively objectionable business in an already congested area," says a South Florida political consultant. "He has to pull a lot of strings to keep the place functioning. Politicians want to stay on his good side because he's a significant player with substantial assets and no one knows exactly the extent of them. It's about as blunt as that."

Until 1992, when he finally spent one million dollars to build an elevated walkway over Sunrise Boulevard linking two parking lots, the road next to the Swap Shop had one of the highest rates of auto accidents in South Florida. While Henn praises himself for building the skywalk, his enemies claim he was able to delay fixing the traffic hazard for years because of friends in high places.

Henn has been close friends with — and a political supporter of — former Broward sheriff Nick Navarro. Ditto for Ken Jenne, current sheriff. Then there's Broward County Commissioner Lori Parrish, who has lobbied state lawmakers on Henn's behalf. Parrish, who works for Henn as an "efficiency expert," denies any conflict of interest, but she's keenly aware of appearances. So keenly aware that her secretary at county hall refuses to take phone messages for her in her capacity as a Swap Shop employee, or to even give out the Swap Shop phone number.

An observer of the relationship, speaking on condition of anonymity, explains it this way: "Preston routinely gets rid of top staff. He acts like a jerk most of the time. He's a bully. He treats his employees like shit, and he treats his vendors worse. He'll fine them for sitting down or getting to the Swap Shop late. If you work for him and you want a Coke while you're on the job, guess what: You gotta pay for it.

"He probably thought he was going to get some political patronage out of [Parrish]. Instead he got an extremely competent manager. He got someone he can't get rid of, because she creates a critical balance between common sense and his own abusive eccentricity. She routinely opposes him, and it's a good thing."

Henn bristles at the suggestion that he's anything but a fair manager of people. Fair, but hard. Asked if he has a hero, he names "Neutron" Jack Welch, the legendarily ruthless CEO of General Electric. Why? "Because he was a tough business manager, and I admire toughness in people. He came in and fired everybody. The buildings were still standing, but all the people were gone."

And politics, as far as Henn sees it, is really just another side of commerce: "I think anybody in business today [should] be active politically ... [and] give money to the different people so that when you have a problem, then at least you've got somebody you can call. I think any business owner, no matter how big or small, needs to be active in the political process. It's a case of survival."

Henn is on the board of directors of the Florida State Fair. The fair takes place in Tampa, where Henn has another flea market. He also serves on Broward's Tourist Development Council, though he claims to want less civic and political involvement. One source suggests that Henn's taste for invisibility might be a case of hurt feelings. He may think he hasn't received the respect he deserves.

Henn is pulling the orchestra conductor's leg. He's playing the dumb country boy, one of his favorite personas.

For years Henn's Christmas float in the Fort Lauderdale boat parade was the grandest of all, a fantastic series of barges filled with twinkling lights and live elephants and tigers. But Henn canceled his entry after animal rights activists raised a ruckus. Two autumns ago Henn sent giant bouquets of lilies, roses, and hydrangeas to every Broward County commissioner, including four newcomers to the dais. The attached cards read: "Congratulations from the 'flea' office." Reporters wondered in print whether the gifts exceeded the $100 statutory limit. The Swap Shop sits on land in unincorporated Broward, and its continual renovation and expansion requires all sorts of county permits: Were the flowers a ham-handed shot at influence-buying, or a courtly gesture from Broward's last great rogue eccentric?

Markham, the Broward County tax assessor, says he thinks Henn is more a prankster than a cynic. But there's a shadow of doubt. In 1968 Markham launched his first campaign. One day he ran into Henn. "I said, 'Man, I'm running for tax assessor, and, if there's anything you can do for me, that would be great,'" Markham remembers. "I gave him a couple of campaign brochures.

"A couple weeks later I was walking down the street and some people stopped me. They said, 'Do you know what Preston Henn is doing to you?'" Henn had turned the brochures into giant campaign ads, which he flashed on his drive-in screens during intermission at X-rated movies.

It's still unclear whether the tactic almost ruined Markham's political career or saved it. He won by 39 votes. What's surely true is that 30 years later he remains in power. And he counts Preston Henn among his closest friends.

At the height of the Depression, two years after Preston Henn was born, the first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. The year was 1933. Tickets cost 25 cents for the justly forgotten film titled Wife Beware, starring Adolphe Menjou.

It wasn't until the end of World War II that the drive-in craze took hold. Between 1945 and 1953, 2976 drive-ins were built, including one with airstrips. Meanwhile Henn had graduated from the prestigious McCauley School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and from Nashville's Vanderbilt University with a degree in chemical engineering.

Within a month he was bored with chemical engineering. He went home to the mountains of Murphy, North Carolina, to help out in his father's drive-in theater business. "I had enough ego that I didn't want to depend on my father, who — for Murphy, North Carolina — was considered a wealthy man," Henn says.

In a pride-salving compromise, Henn the younger leased a drive-in at nearby Franklin and began a five-year march toward his first million. By 1958 Henn owned approximately 40 drive-ins throughout the Bible Belt. There were 4063 of them in the United States, but there would never be more. According to the latest economic census figures, only 534 exist today, 25 in Florida.

"Television just crucified the small-town theater," Henn recalls. "I went broke."

Like many a debt-encumbered failure before him, Henn followed the sun to South Florida. On the day in 1963 of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, he opened the Thunderbird Drive-In west of Fort Lauderdale. The original screen, now number nine, stands near the center of the Swap Shop today.

Before he took over the drive-in had catered to black moviegoers for fifteen years. "At that particular time you couldn't get anyone else to set foot in what they thought of as a black theater," Henn says. He added an entrance on Sunrise Boulevard, launched an ad campaign, brought in X-rated movies, and jacked up the prices. The race barrier was broken.

Meanwhile he bought a dozen other drive-ins in Broward and ran the remaining competitors out of business. His tools were publicity stunts and advertising blitzes. At one mosquito-infested theater near Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, he installed experimental air-conditioning tubes that could be attached to car windows along with the standard speakers.

Except for the single-screen Trail Drive-In in Lake Worth, there are no drive-in theaters in South Florida other than Henn's Swap Shop multiplex, which has long since dropped the skin flicks for first-run movies. In the vast scheme of the place, revenues from the drive-in are "very minor," Henn declares. The real money comes from a much older idea. Henn first saw the idea in San Jose, California (in what is still the biggest flea market in the land) and promptly stole it.

"Five or six years ago I got a call from the people in San Jose," Henn says. "They wanted to fly out and look at my operation. They did. We wined 'em and dined 'em, and they finally got around to asking what everyone always asks: 'How'd ya get the idea in the first place?' I said, 'Ironically, from you.'"

The flea market idea was invented by King Henry II in twelfth-century London as a way to get peddlers off crowded streets. It spread through central Europe, where unsanitary conditions led to the name. Beginning in 1966 Henn set about reinventing the concept, adding country music concerts, stunt weddings, elephants, anything that would draw the masses. Attracting a crowd — generating a huge volume of bargain shoppers — is the secret to bringing in vendors. Keeping the space less costly than a city storefront allows merchants to save money on overhead and presumably pass savings on to customers.

Despite nearby Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest outlet mall, Henn figures he has the low-end retail market cornered.

"We've got a niche that no one will ever touch, because no one's got an outdoor garage sale [like this], and they're not likely to come along and have 80 acres of property and start doing it," he crows.

Like many a debt-encumbered failure before him, Henn followed the sun to South Florida.

Trundling past the produce and power-tool vendors on his way to a meeting with his team of tax attorneys, Henn says he thinks he's discovered something more precious, more American, than Ponce de Leon's mythical fountain of youth. While the Swap Shop may look tacky, may be loud, may feel hot, Henn believes he has touched the very heart of democratic commerce.

"Have I ever conducted a demographic study of Swap Shop patrons?" he squawks. "Sure! I look at the cars people drive here. And there's no rhyme or reason to it. It's rich people, poor people, marrieds, retirees. Most of the TV and radio stations have told me I am the only person that don't give a shit what the demographics say. We appeal to everybody."

It's always hard to tell how much of what Henn says is theater or calculation, where the country bumpkin cuts off and the P.T. Barnum begins. He says he's on the verge of dumping flea markets in Tampa and Margate to better focus on the Swap Shop, but he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to do so. Although he declared speed-lust a thing of the past, Henn confirms that in August he sneaked out to California to drive in a celebrity road race. He claims to be in his twilight years.

"If I didn't enjoy what I do here, I would never leave Aspen, Colorado," he swears. "There I don't have to drive anywhere. The grocery store, everything, is within three or four blocks of my house."

How does he pass the time at his Rocky Mountain mansion 1800 miles from the Swap Shop? Skiing. Reading. And of course watching those 78 interconnected security cameras that appear on his computer screen from not-so-faraway Fort Lauderdale.


Sours: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/preston-henn-the-sultan-of-swap-is-the-owner-of-one-of-the-worlds-biggest-flea-markets-6359523
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~ Powerboat Swap Shop on Facebook ~

Originally Posted by bwdView Post

It has the potential of being a great place to go for boat parts, hence the term "swap shop". However, I can easily see it overrun with folks trying to sell their boats there. Do you really think somebody looking for some used exhaust parts or any other parts is really interested in a 400k Nor-tech? Whom ever was smart enough to start such a terrific resource should state a honor system rule, NO COMPLETE BOATS PLEASE. Just my 2 cents

I dont have a problem with complete boats, but Id like to see those smokin good deals only. So far it hasnt been a problem, but I'll keep my eye on it.

The Swap Shop itself has already done better than I had expected. Ive seen quite a few deals completed on there. Ive only had to remove one member so far that turned out to be a spammer selling shoes.

I like to see more members adding their boating friends. The more members, the more parts and sales. Everytime this thread goes to the top I get another 5 to 10 new members.

Thanks for the input.
Sours: https://www.offshoreonly.com/forums/
Boat Fails and Wins 2021 - Best of The Week - Part 67

On first approach, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop looks like 80 acres of chaos. Five miles west of the ocean, vendors show up long before sunrise to sell everything from pig snouts to home mortgages. Some of the sellers are full-time pros bent on millionairehood. Some are onetime garage-sale amateurs, come to offload the flotsam and jetsam of suburbia from pickup trucks and vans. This noisy, sunbaked universe of vendors' stalls — America's second-largest flea market and Florida's second-most-popular tourist attraction after Disney World — gives way at dusk to the biggest drive-in movie theater left on Earth. Seven nights per week customers in cars line Sunrise Boulevard just west of I, waiting to pay $ apiece and watch the latest Hollywood (California, that is) spectacles on thirteen open-air screens.

The round-the-clock bedlam at the year-old Swap Shop is only skin-deep. Beneath the surface there's an organizing principle (huge crowds, cheap prices), and behind the scenes there is Preston Henn, a year-old hillbilly genius loved and hated by his business associates, but mostly unknown to the 12 million souls who visit the Swap Shop each year. As owner and landlord of South Florida's gaudiest cash cow, Henn rakes in money from each and every vendor's stall through a complex rental structure that changes with the season and time of day: He gets a cut of the revenues from fifteen different restaurants in the enclosed, air-conditioned food court, which includes what may be the busiest McDonald's this side of Moscow. And he collects admission fees for parking, movies, and even walk-in browsers at 25 cents a head.

Fall is slow at the Swap Shop, and rain is disastrous. But on a recent morning, Henn rose at a.m., just as he has all his life. Why? "My mind," he snorts. "I got a lot of things on my mind. A lot of things interest me." Henn walks past the Ferrari in the living room of his mansion on Millionaire's Row in Hillsboro Beach; the three-story house fronts the Atlantic. Henn scowls at the bad weather. Then he turns on the computer. "Before it was fashionable, before anyone was doing it, he was reading newspapers off the Internet," says one of Henn's many political friends, Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom. Henn skims the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Daily News. The president of the United States hasn't been impeached yet; Henn, a serious Republican, puts on his second scowl of the day.

With a stroke on the keyboard, Henn switches over to a remote feed from the 78 security cameras that are sprinkled discreetly throughout the Swap Shop. The place is seventeen miles away, but suddenly every vendor, every car, every employee is right there on Henn's glowing computer screen. He zooms in on a cash register; he zooms out for a panoramic view of the east parking lot.

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"I don't ever have to leave my house," Henn explains with diabolical matter-of-factness. "I can sit down at the computer, go into the ticket booth, and watch what the guy's doing. I can look at the timeclock. I can see the vendors checking in at the reservation desk. I have all of that on an interconnected computer system. Same way with my flea market out in Margate — it's all hooked up."

Henn doesn't have to leave his house, but he always does. His temperament, not money or technology, precludes him from governing his retail empire in absentia. Says Bill Markham, long-time Broward County property appraiser: "I thought I was a type A personality until I met Preston Henn." Soon the white-haired, thick-wristed flea market king is wheeling past a hen-shape mailbox, heading south in his wife's canary-color sports car. Sometimes he props a lifelike dummy in the passenger seat. "It's not so I can get in the high-speed lane," he insists. "It's so I don't get robbed."

In , in a white Porsche , Henn won one of America's most famous automotive endurance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona. He repeated the performance at Sebring in , and again at Daytona. His teammates included racing legends A.J. Foyt and Al Unser, Sr. In he placed second at Le Mans. "He would have been first but the French ganged up on him," recalls Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Jack Latona, a frequent breakfast companion of Henn.

Today Henn refuses to talk about his speed-freak days, which also included several death-defying stabs at offshore powerboat racing. He won't say how he fell into these sports in the first place, though it may relate to his boyhood in the mountains of western North Carolina, where moonshine runners gave birth to stock car racing. Nor will he explain why he quit racing, though age seems an obvious answer. "I think he just finally grew some brains is all," says Markham. At any rate, Henn now spends his mornings on a monogrammed golf cart stalking the midways and parking lots of the Swap Shop in jeans and a cowboy hat.

In , in a white Porsche , Henn won America's most famous automotive endurance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona.

On the west side of the sprawling market, near the canopied stalls full of hollering electronics merchants, a woman stops Henn to ask where the hairbrushes are. He scratches his chin and admits he doesn't know. The Swap Shop has grown so vast that adults as well as children lose their bearings. The indoor market alone contains two automatic teller machines, a car dealership, a real estate office, a video arcade, a place to buy rebuilt slot machines, and innumerable blinking stands and screeching, yammering vendors displaying samurai swords, cut-rate lingerie, custom license plates, and cheap watches. It also houses an immigration lawyer, who does a brisk business catering to customers from Haiti, Pakistan, and a dozen other countries. "Other attorneys have high-rise towers and walnut furniture, and you pay for it," says Robert Wettergreen, a paralegal. "Here you don't."

The indoor market is a model of peace and order compared to what lies outside. Here a vendor of gospel music cassettes is warring with one of Mexican corrida; both turn the volume up louder and louder, drowning out the nearby specialist in wind chimes. Another entrepreneur sells erotic videos out of a garage-size steel shipping container, and still another trades only in tarps and tape. A forlorn-looking woman offers her entire inventory on a place mat: six plastic coffee percolator caps. The no-frills, rough-and-tumble commerce reflects Henn's complicated personality.

Under normal circumstances the Hanneford Family Circus performs two or three times per day at the Swap Shop. Henn says he spends $ million on this promotional device, which includes a trapeze act, a clown, acrobatic elephants, illusionists, and a performing terrier that salsas to a song called "El Baile de los Perritos" ("The Dance of the Little Dogs"). But this afternoon there's something quite different going on in the circus ring. The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra has come to bring classical music to the masses. Preston Henn stands up in his cowboy hat. He introduces the musicians in his wheezy drawl.

After wrapping up Rossini's William Tell overture, conductor Duilio Dobrin agrees that the hubbub from the nearby food court makes for the worst acoustics he has ever encountered in his life. Nonetheless he declares the show a smash. "We have people out here with no musical culture whatsoever exposed for the first time to music other than electrically produced rock and roll." What does Dobrin, a rank newcomer to Swap Shop culture, think of his new patron?

Striving for diplomacy, in an accent redolent of the Rhine, Dobrin says of Henn: "If I were to see him walking down the street, I'd say this is a man from some remote community not used to the rigors and the life of a big city. He was telling me he would like to attend concerts at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts, but he doesn't have a thing to wear. The understatement of everything he does! The simplicity! It's, uh, something we should think about. Perhaps we don't agree percent with his ways, but there's something to be said about avoiding fancy furs and expensive cars."

Earlier a veteran popcorn vendor watched Henn introduce the orchestra. As the musicians finished their first number, the popcorn man seemed beside himself. "My God, that was amazing!" he exclaimed. What? The music? The bizarre prospect of the philharmonic, faced with an eroding audience and budget, having to acknowledge Preston Henn's ability to draw a crowd? "No!" said the employee. "It's Henn! All these years, that's the first time I've ever heard him speak publicly."

Of course, Henn is pulling the orchestra conductor's leg. He's playing the dumb country boy, one of his favorite personas. In reality he owns more than a few expensive cars and could certainly find something to wear to a concert. He just doesn't care to.

In Henn showed up at the Marriott Hotel on the beach for a black-tie George Bush fundraiser. He was wearing a tuxedo jacket and a pair of jeans to which he had glued strips of black satin down each leg. There was Bush, and there, next to Henn, sat the director of the local Salvation Army and the pastor of the First Baptist Church.

"Preston used to take a drink pretty good," says a friend who also attended the fundraiser. "So there he is, sitting right in front of the head table with those damn cowboy boots on, right next to this Baptist minister he hadn't been introduced to.

"All of a sudden, someone walks in and Preston starts yelling at him across the room: 'Hey! You know why Baptists don't have sex standing up?' Whoever he's yelling at looks like he wants to melt into the floor, but he says, 'Why?' Preston screams: 'Cause it might lead to dancing!'"

Henn backed Jeb Bush for governor but protests that he's not really involved in politics "except dollarwise." He admits this is like saying he never swims except when doing the backstroke, crawl, breaststroke, or butterfly. Upon request Henn packs his world view in a nutshell: "The Democrats, nationally, will try to tax all your money away and then give it to somebody that don't want to work." But he concedes that most of his political involvement traces directly back to the Swap Shop and has little to do with abstract ideals.

"He's got a relatively objectionable business in an already congested area," says a South Florida political consultant. "He has to pull a lot of strings to keep the place functioning. Politicians want to stay on his good side because he's a significant player with substantial assets and no one knows exactly the extent of them. It's about as blunt as that."

Until , when he finally spent one million dollars to build an elevated walkway over Sunrise Boulevard linking two parking lots, the road next to the Swap Shop had one of the highest rates of auto accidents in South Florida. While Henn praises himself for building the skywalk, his enemies claim he was able to delay fixing the traffic hazard for years because of friends in high places.

Henn has been close friends with — and a political supporter of — former Broward sheriff Nick Navarro. Ditto for Ken Jenne, current sheriff. Then there's Broward County Commissioner Lori Parrish, who has lobbied state lawmakers on Henn's behalf. Parrish, who works for Henn as an "efficiency expert," denies any conflict of interest, but she's keenly aware of appearances. So keenly aware that her secretary at county hall refuses to take phone messages for her in her capacity as a Swap Shop employee, or to even give out the Swap Shop phone number.

An observer of the relationship, speaking on condition of anonymity, explains it this way: "Preston routinely gets rid of top staff. He acts like a jerk most of the time. He's a bully. He treats his employees like shit, and he treats his vendors worse. He'll fine them for sitting down or getting to the Swap Shop late. If you work for him and you want a Coke while you're on the job, guess what: You gotta pay for it.

"He probably thought he was going to get some political patronage out of [Parrish]. Instead he got an extremely competent manager. He got someone he can't get rid of, because she creates a critical balance between common sense and his own abusive eccentricity. She routinely opposes him, and it's a good thing."

Henn bristles at the suggestion that he's anything but a fair manager of people. Fair, but hard. Asked if he has a hero, he names "Neutron" Jack Welch, the legendarily ruthless CEO of General Electric. Why? "Because he was a tough business manager, and I admire toughness in people. He came in and fired everybody. The buildings were still standing, but all the people were gone."

And politics, as far as Henn sees it, is really just another side of commerce: "I think anybody in business today [should] be active politically [and] give money to the different people so that when you have a problem, then at least you've got somebody you can call. I think any business owner, no matter how big or small, needs to be active in the political process. It's a case of survival."

Henn is on the board of directors of the Florida State Fair. The fair takes place in Tampa, where Henn has another flea market. He also serves on Broward's Tourist Development Council, though he claims to want less civic and political involvement. One source suggests that Henn's taste for invisibility might be a case of hurt feelings. He may think he hasn't received the respect he deserves.

Henn is pulling the orchestra conductor's leg. He's playing the dumb country boy, one of his favorite personas.

For years Henn's Christmas float in the Fort Lauderdale boat parade was the grandest of all, a fantastic series of barges filled with twinkling lights and live elephants and tigers. But Henn canceled his entry after animal rights activists raised a ruckus. Two autumns ago Henn sent giant bouquets of lilies, roses, and hydrangeas to every Broward County commissioner, including four newcomers to the dais. The attached cards read: "Congratulations from the 'flea' office." Reporters wondered in print whether the gifts exceeded the $ statutory limit. The Swap Shop sits on land in unincorporated Broward, and its continual renovation and expansion requires all sorts of county permits: Were the flowers a ham-handed shot at influence-buying, or a courtly gesture from Broward's last great rogue eccentric?

Markham, the Broward County tax assessor, says he thinks Henn is more a prankster than a cynic. But there's a shadow of doubt. In Markham launched his first campaign. One day he ran into Henn. "I said, 'Man, I'm running for tax assessor, and, if there's anything you can do for me, that would be great,'" Markham remembers. "I gave him a couple of campaign brochures.

"A couple weeks later I was walking down the street and some people stopped me. They said, 'Do you know what Preston Henn is doing to you?'" Henn had turned the brochures into giant campaign ads, which he flashed on his drive-in screens during intermission at X-rated movies.

It's still unclear whether the tactic almost ruined Markham's political career or saved it. He won by 39 votes. What's surely true is that 30 years later he remains in power. And he counts Preston Henn among his closest friends.

At the height of the Depression, two years after Preston Henn was born, the first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. The year was Tickets cost 25 cents for the justly forgotten film titled Wife Beware, starring Adolphe Menjou.

It wasn't until the end of World War II that the drive-in craze took hold. Between and , drive-ins were built, including one with airstrips. Meanwhile Henn had graduated from the prestigious McCauley School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and from Nashville's Vanderbilt University with a degree in chemical engineering.

Within a month he was bored with chemical engineering. He went home to the mountains of Murphy, North Carolina, to help out in his father's drive-in theater business. "I had enough ego that I didn't want to depend on my father, who — for Murphy, North Carolina — was considered a wealthy man," Henn says.

In a pride-salving compromise, Henn the younger leased a drive-in at nearby Franklin and began a five-year march toward his first million. By Henn owned approximately 40 drive-ins throughout the Bible Belt. There were of them in the United States, but there would never be more. According to the latest economic census figures, only exist today, 25 in Florida.

"Television just crucified the small-town theater," Henn recalls. "I went broke."

Like many a debt-encumbered failure before him, Henn followed the sun to South Florida. On the day in of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, he opened the Thunderbird Drive-In west of Fort Lauderdale. The original screen, now number nine, stands near the center of the Swap Shop today.

Before he took over the drive-in had catered to black moviegoers for fifteen years. "At that particular time you couldn't get anyone else to set foot in what they thought of as a black theater," Henn says. He added an entrance on Sunrise Boulevard, launched an ad campaign, brought in X-rated movies, and jacked up the prices. The race barrier was broken.

Meanwhile he bought a dozen other drive-ins in Broward and ran the remaining competitors out of business. His tools were publicity stunts and advertising blitzes. At one mosquito-infested theater near Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, he installed experimental air-conditioning tubes that could be attached to car windows along with the standard speakers.

Except for the single-screen Trail Drive-In in Lake Worth, there are no drive-in theaters in South Florida other than Henn's Swap Shop multiplex, which has long since dropped the skin flicks for first-run movies. In the vast scheme of the place, revenues from the drive-in are "very minor," Henn declares. The real money comes from a much older idea. Henn first saw the idea in San Jose, California (in what is still the biggest flea market in the land) and promptly stole it.

"Five or six years ago I got a call from the people in San Jose," Henn says. "They wanted to fly out and look at my operation. They did. We wined 'em and dined 'em, and they finally got around to asking what everyone always asks: 'How'd ya get the idea in the first place?' I said, 'Ironically, from you.'"

The flea market idea was invented by King Henry II in twelfth-century London as a way to get peddlers off crowded streets. It spread through central Europe, where unsanitary conditions led to the name. Beginning in Henn set about reinventing the concept, adding country music concerts, stunt weddings, elephants, anything that would draw the masses. Attracting a crowd — generating a huge volume of bargain shoppers — is the secret to bringing in vendors. Keeping the space less costly than a city storefront allows merchants to save money on overhead and presumably pass savings on to customers.

Despite nearby Sawgrass Mills, the world's largest outlet mall, Henn figures he has the low-end retail market cornered.

"We've got a niche that no one will ever touch, because no one's got an outdoor garage sale [like this], and they're not likely to come along and have 80 acres of property and start doing it," he crows.

Like many a debt-encumbered failure before him, Henn followed the sun to South Florida.

Trundling past the produce and power-tool vendors on his way to a meeting with his team of tax attorneys, Henn says he thinks he's discovered something more precious, more American, than Ponce de Leon's mythical fountain of youth. While the Swap Shop may look tacky, may be loud, may feel hot, Henn believes he has touched the very heart of democratic commerce.

"Have I ever conducted a demographic study of Swap Shop patrons?" he squawks. "Sure! I look at the cars people drive here. And there's no rhyme or reason to it. It's rich people, poor people, marrieds, retirees. Most of the TV and radio stations have told me I am the only person that don't give a shit what the demographics say. We appeal to everybody."

It's always hard to tell how much of what Henn says is theater or calculation, where the country bumpkin cuts off and the P.T. Barnum begins. He says he's on the verge of dumping flea markets in Tampa and Margate to better focus on the Swap Shop, but he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to do so. Although he declared speed-lust a thing of the past, Henn confirms that in August he sneaked out to California to drive in a celebrity road race. He claims to be in his twilight years.

"If I didn't enjoy what I do here, I would never leave Aspen, Colorado," he swears. "There I don't have to drive anywhere. The grocery store, everything, is within three or four blocks of my house."

How does he pass the time at his Rocky Mountain mansion miles from the Swap Shop? Skiing. Reading. And of course watching those 78 interconnected security cameras that appear on his computer screen from not-so-faraway Fort Lauderdale.


Sours: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/preston-henn-the-sultan-of-swap-is-the-owner-of-one-of-the-worlds-biggest-flea-markets

Swap shop lakes powerboat great

Under $10,000 Boats - 360 found

"Chub," originally "Trio Dee," is truly one of a kind! She was built in 1947 by L.E. (Earl) Fowler at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington. She was built of reclaimed Port Orford cedar and oak. It would seem that the builder combined ideas and plans of different boats but it’s a bit unclear. The following is a direct quote from Earl Fowler found in a letter to Tom Thompson: "I looked at all the designs on how to build 20 boats. It made me want to work again. At a quick glance ‘Serene’ resembles 'Chub' but her plans were published in Rudder magazine in 1946, by a great lakes man named Wycough. There was just a picture and a table of offsets. A half section, the rest was all mine.” In 1958 she was sold to a marine surveyor in the SF Bay Area where she still resides today. Around 1969 Tom Thompson took possession and renamed her "Chub" after a fish with a belly that resembles her hull. Tom owned her for 30 years. Afterward, she changed hands many times in 12 year period. I came into possession Halloween a 2012. "Chub" has been registered and active upon the water her entire life. She has been greatly cared for by numerous owners, myself being one of them. It is with great sadness that I create this post, it is so difficult to let her go. So much blood, sweat, and tears, and so much joy and laughter. Unfortunately, 2020 changed everything, and so it must be. "Chub" is a magical little boat and her story is long and wonderful, but for the sake of this posting I’ll keep it to the vitals. She’s a great all-around vessel for fishing, socializing, and towing. • Refastened below the waterline with stainless in 2000. • Hauled in 2014- bottom job, new prop, and Cutlass bearing. •. Hauled in 2017- bottom job, recaulked seams and re-powered. • Repowered in 2017 with a Volvo penta MD 17 C, 3cyl diesel w/low hours, excellent compression. Has awesome hydraulic drive. Plenty of extra parts- belts, filters, clamps, pumps, etc. • Raw water cooled but has had heat exchanger in the past. • New batteries, charger, bilge pump and float switch. Although her bilge has always been dry. • Wheel is from the "USS Oregon," has wonderful little gypsy wood burning stove, and plenty of extra parts, fasteners and period pieces. As we all know a wooden boat’s work is never done, rather it’s an ongoing love affair. I’m looking for "Chub"’s new romance, the next situation, the next person or group of people that will keep her alive and moving about the water. And with that I leave you with another quote from Earl to Tom, “ I have built a number of boats for myself but Helen and I enjoyed 'Trio Dee'/'Chub' more than all the others”. Any interested parties should feel free to contact me for further information.

Sours: http://www.antiqueboatamerica.com/List/Price_Under_10000_Antique_Boats_For_Sale
Aluminum Hull Coastal Craft is Here ! (Flibs 2021 Pre Show)

~ Powerboat Swap Shop on Facebook ~

Originally Posted by bwdView Post

It has the potential of being a great place to go for boat parts, hence the term "swap shop". However, I can easily see it overrun with folks trying to sell their boats there. Do you really think somebody looking for some used exhaust parts or any other parts is really interested in a k Nor-tech? Whom ever was smart enough to start such a terrific resource should state a honor system rule, NO COMPLETE BOATS PLEASE. Just my 2 cents

I dont have a problem with complete boats, but Id like to see those smokin good deals only. So far it hasnt been a problem, but I'll keep my eye on it.

The Swap Shop itself has already done better than I had expected. Ive seen quite a few deals completed on there. Ive only had to remove one member so far that turned out to be a spammer selling shoes.

I like to see more members adding their boating friends. The more members, the more parts and sales. Everytime this thread goes to the top I get another 5 to 10 new members.

Thanks for the input.
Sours: https://www.offshoreonly.com/forums/

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And. often. even very. I have enough of everything.



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