Award Winning Victoria Company Celebrating Six Decades In Tourism Trade
VICTORIA – For six decades, the Oak Bay Marine Group (OBMG) has been making memories for Vancouver Island visitors.
The next chapter promises to be just as memorable, as the firm is ramping up with a fresh re-brand for the company, which was named Green & Sustainability Business of the Year in the recent MNP LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards in Nanaimo. It has also been recognized as one of Canada’s Most Admired™ Corporate Cultures by Waterstone Human Capital, and is the 2022 Boating Industry of Canada Employer of Choice.
“Over the past decade, we have gone back to our roots and refocused OBMG on operating marinas,” notes Chief Executive Officer Brook Castelsky. “We are embarking on an amazing new chapter in our story and have a more focused priority to create unforgettable experiences at our stunning oceanfront settings.”
Oak Bay Marine Group owns and operates four marinas, including Oak Bay Marina in Victoria, North Saanich Marina in North Saanich, Ladysmith Marina and Oak Bay Marine Group Boathouses in Ladysmith, Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina in Metchosin, the Marina Dockside Eatery at Oak Bay Marina, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort in the Bahamas, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! World of Adventure in Newport, Oregon.
Bob Wright founded OBMG in 1962 with one marina in Oak Bay.
“Over the next 50 years, Bob’s passion for the ocean and sports fishing resulted in OBMG becoming the largest operator of marinas and sports fishing resorts in North America,” states Castelsky, who has been with the operation for 24 years now.
“I have been fortunate to hold many different positions with OBMG,” he recalls. “The company has provided me with the opportunity to live and work in Campbell River, Ucluelet, Haida Gwaii and even Long Island, Bahamas. My role as CEO is about listening to our customers and crew, and empowering our crew to be their best. I am based in Oak Bay, but spending time with our Crew at our operations on Vancouver Island, Oregon and Bahamas is what makes my job exciting.”
Castelsky notes that today’s marine environment faces many challenges, and OBMG is focused on protecting and preserving local waters and marine wildlife. To that end, Wright donated $11 million to the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences to ensure students have facilities and scholarships to study the marine environment.
“Other sustainability initiatives include regularly holding beach clean-ups, installing western Canada’s first Seabin in our marinas, and receiving the Clean Marine BC marina eco-certification,” he adds. “We also engage with Ocean Wise and donate to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to tackle a wide range of issues faced by wild Pacific salmon.
OBMG’s commitment to community organizations includes supporting Power to Be and Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue and others.
Castelsky says OBMG is proud of the boathouses the company has built at Ladysmith Marina.
“Our combination of experienced craftsmanship, proprietary design and in-depth knowledge of the industry has propelled us to become the leading boathouse builder in British Columbia,” he states.
OBMG recently completed a major renovation to its Ripley’s Believe It or Not! World of Adventure in Newport, Oregon. The one-stop destination for family fun now features an all-new Believe It Or Not! Odditorium, Louis Tussaud’s Wax Works, and newly added Cargo Hold Gift Shop, Laser Race, Smash Dash and Hands of Wax.
Pedder Bay RV Resort & Marina is also garnering rave reviews.
“Guests enjoy the breath-taking natural beauty of the area against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountain Range and the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve,” Castelsky says, adding it is only 40 minutes from downtown Victoria. “The property combines a well-protected marina, full-service RV sites, bunk houses for a dry camping option, boat rentals and a café. With Matheson Lake, Sooke Potholes, the Galloping Goose Trail and many other parks and trails in close proximity, Pedder Bay is truly nature’s playground.”
OBMG is also focusing on pursuing development opportunities at all four of its marina properties.
A major key to the company’s success has been their commitment to its crew, and Castelsky notes that OBMG has achieved Respect Certified Workplace status.
“Without a doubt, it would be that people come first, profit comes second,” Castelsky says. “If you don’t take care of the first, you don’t get the second. Since the pandemic, we have focused on engaging our crew and building culture with many initiatives.”
By Mark MacDonald