PROFILE: Zach Rogalski

February 5, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY T MICHELE WALKER – Most people spend their weekends relaxing away from work. Zach Rogalski, the new general manager of the Boca Grande Marina, spends his weekends touring Florida marinas with his wife and two young sons.

“Most weekends we like to explore different marinas: We enjoy it,” he laughed. “We like to go to Okeechobee and that area. There’s a lot of little marinas there that people don’t really get to go visit. They’re really old and unique.”

As Zach explained, marinas are a way of learning about the history and culture of each area. You could say that marinas are in his blood. Born and raised in Charlotte County and a graduate from Lemon Bay High School, Zach spent most of his life in this industry.

“I grew up working on shrimp boats, working with my uncle Tim who owns the T-N-T Bait and Tackle,” Zach said. “We fished and shrimped all of Lemon Bay and the Manasota Key area.”

As much as Zach loves the industry, his number one priority is his family.

“I have two sons – Ashton, who is 4, and Landon, who  was turned 1 in December,” he said, eyes beaming. “It’s nice to raise them down here. It’s easier because I have most of my family here. My mom watches our children and she thoroughly enjoys that. My parents were born in Indiana, but I do have five generations in Florida, including my great-grandmother, Annabel VanDalsen, who’ll be 95 this year.”

After a move to Rochester, Indiana, where he lived for seven years, Zach met his wife, Haley.

”We got married, we had two kids and my wife was becoming a registered nurse,” he said. “She wanted to further her career down here in Florida. It was kind of a good opportunity for me to come back down here and do something different, too.”

That “something different” turned out to be a return to what he enjoys the most – the marina, and his home in Charlotte County.

“I was scrolling through Indeed (an online job service) one day and I found this job and started off as a dock hand,” he said. “And then about six months ago, they thought I’d be a good candidate for the manager position.”

With a quick rise in ranks and with a hands-on managerial style, Zach describes his daily routine at the marina. “I make sure the employees are getting into their routine in the morning, that we have an updated list of the vessels that are coming in for the day and make sure that we have enough fuel. I enjoy talking to people on the dock and answering a lot of questions.”

Add to that list, putting out fires. During the interview, the marina’s cashier was absent. Zach did what all good managers do – he worked the cash register, all while fielding questions.

His favorite part of the job is dealing with the wide variety of boats that frequent the marina.

“I enjoy talking to people, finding out where they’re coming from and where they’ve gone, where they’re going,” Zach said. “You never realize the industry that’s here, as Boca Grande is such a little place. The boating industry is huge. Until you actually see it firsthand, you don’t realize it. Seeing the industry and boats is definitely interesting to me.”

Of course, the inevitable question of COVID was raised, as well as its effects on the industry.

“It has actually had the opposite effect for the marina than anywhere else; we were completely busy through the whole summer. With the Bahamas shut down and the East Coast shut down, for the most part, we shut down … but not to the extent that they did. So we’ve seen a lot of bigger vessels, a lot of new boaters to this area that either couldn’t go to the Bahamas or didn’t want to do the paperwork. This past year has been busy.”

As much as Zach loves the industry, it wasn’t his original dream.

“My aspirations when I was younger were more along the lines of becoming a firefighter, or something in the medical field,” he said. “I was actually doing some volunteering, doing some firefighter work.”

The move from Indiana was a big one for the young family, and especially for his wife who, other than having grandparents in Fort Myers, was facing a big change.

“Haley had visited quite a bit, so she was familiar with the area and liked it,” Zach said. “She definitely loves it down here more than up there, but she misses the four seasons … but she enjoys our winters more.”

After working for four years as a registered nurse at Fawcett Memorial Hospital, his wife now works as a manager.

“The same day I took on the manager’s position, she took a manager’s position as well. So we literally both took manager positions on the same day.”

A coworker walked into the marina store and asked Zach about the lift station. Zach answered his questions, and put out another fire with ease. He then returned to answering questions.

“Being a dad is my main priority,” he said. “I’m just waiting until they get a bit older so that I can take them out on the boat.”

Zach looks forward to putting down roots, in both his home and his work life.

“My goals are to build a home and make the Boca Grande Marina the best it can be for many years to come,” he said. “This job allows me to enjoy my time with my kids and family.”

Marina talk comes easy to Zach, as he is a true aficionado.

“It’s crazy how many marinas are in this area,” he said, with eyes lit up. “Just here in this area, off the top of my head, I can think of 12 or 13 of them. A lot of them have different things going on, like little restaurants or a tiki bar. Each marina is unique.”

He continued.

“The history of the area is shown through these marinas. Here we have our tarpon season, so much of our history centers around tarpon fishing. If you go a little further north, their history is more of a kingfish sort. The more inland you go, you’ll find more freshwater bass fishing. Each marina reflects the lifestyle and history and culture of each area, like an historic blueprint.”

The big question is, of course, which one is his favorite marina?

“Well, my favorite marina is Boca Grande Marina, obviously, but we also enjoy Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston, off Lake Okeechobee. The boats will come right in off the lake and everything is right there at the marina. To be able to dock, walk into your apartment, and eat at the same location. That’s great!”