SAFE Boats Gains New Board Members

(Left) William “Dean” Lee and (right) Tom Norton.

Bremerton-Wash.-based SAFE Boats International announced in late September that retired Vice Admiral William “Dean” Lee and Tom Norton have joined the company’s Board of Directors.

Lee served in the U. S. Coast Guard for more than 36 years, most recently as the Commander, Atlantic Area (LANTAREA), responsible for all Coast Guard operations from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.

During his service to the Nation, he served in numerous command and staff positions specializing in search and rescue and small boat operations. Notable assignments included Commander, Fifth District; Deputy Commandant for Operations Policy and Capabilities; Commander, Deployable Operations Group; and Chief, Office of Boat Forces.

“I’m honored by the invitation to join the SAFE Boats team and look forward to helping move this company to new heights in the global maritime realm.” Lee said in a statement. “As a former customer, I am keenly aware of the high quality and unique capabilities of their growing product line. These factors, coupled with the ethical manner in which they have always done business, rendered this an easy decision.”

Norton is a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps and U. S. Army, serving in the aviation community of both services, first as a flight mechanic and then as an aviator.

Following his military service, he had a 20-year career with Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations as a pilot and held several key leadership positions, culminating as the Director of the National Marine Center, responsible for asset acquisition, training and sustainment of all CBP maritime operations.

Following his government service, Norton transitioned to a career at Oregon-based FLIR Systems as Director of Business Development- Federal and Airborne Law Enforcement, followed by Corporate VP, Global Customer Support. He currently serves as president of HeliNet Aviation, a diversified helicopter service provider in the Los Angeles area.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the SAFE Boats team,” Norton said in a statement. “The men and women at SAFE Boats consistently demonstrate the traits and qualities found in high performing organizations. Their commitment to excellence is unparalleled in the industry.”

“I am extremely honored that Dean and Tom have accepted positions on our Board of Directors,” SAFE Boats CEO Richard Schwarz said. “As a newly formed 100% employee-owned company, their leadership, business expertise and keen focus on the customer, mission, and people will provide tremendous value as we chart the way ahead for SAFE Boats.”

SAFE Boats, a designer and manufacturer of aluminum watercraft ranging in size from 21 to more than 100 feet, completed a transaction in March that transferred 100% of the company’s ownership to its employees.

Prior to that, the company had been owned by private equity firm McCarthy Capital since 2010.