Great Lakes Boat Building School

Great Lakes Boat Building School Hires Director of Development

Cedarville, Michigan –The Board of Directors of Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas W. Coates to the newly-created position as Director of Development this week at the institution located in the Les Cheneaux Islands area nestled in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

“This school was founded based on the foresight of our board of directors and their respect of the heritage of wooden boat building in our area,” said Nikki Storey, President of GLBBS.  “We are very proud of the success in our current curriculum offering and the addition of the Marine Service Technician program last year.  Due to the growth of both programs and the upcoming addition of a marine electronics cohort, we envision an opportunity to engage supporters locally and beyond the EUP in a capital campaign.  We believe Tom will play a key role with assisting us in achieving several of the milestones in our strategic plan, including funding the necessary expansion of our infrastructure.”

Coates comes to GLBBS following a 26-year career at Lake Superior State University where he started as the Auxiliary Marketing Specialist and culminated his experience there as Associate Vice President and Director of the LSSU Foundation.  He is an alumnus of the institution and resides in Sault Ste. Marie with his wife Jill.  He also serves on the War Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.

His fundraising experience includes leading capital campaigns to replace the floor in LSSU’s Bud Cooper Gymnasium, R.W. Considine Hall Campaign, Center for Freshwater Research and Education Campaign and annual fundraising appeals and special events.

“When I learned about this exciting opportunity, I was immediately impressed with the strategic foresight by President Storey and her Board for building on the success of the existing programs.  By participating in a Visit Day with prospective students and their parents, I was convinced I wanted to join their outstanding team,” said Coates.  “The beauty of the Les Cheneaux area speaks for itself.  I am so impressed how GLBBS students integrate themselves into our community while honing their craft and line up fulfilling and rewarding careers even before graduation.”

GLBBS was established in 2006, and as of 2020-21 academic year offers two intensive twelve-month programs that prepare students to be industry-ready craftspeople and technicians.  Graduates of the Comprehensive Career Boat Building program gain a foundation in traditional wooden boat construction, repair and restoration.  Meanwhile graduates of the Marine Service Technology program are prepared to work in a wide range of marine fabrication situations and maintenance settings.

“It is truly a GLBBS point of pride that we achieved 100% placement for our graduates in careers last year,” stated Storey.  “The affiliation with Mercury Marine and our Marine Service Technology program has provided the ability for our graduates to be extremely marketable in the industry.”

For prospective student enrollment information go to or call 906.484.1081. Information about the capital campaign is available by contacting Tom Coates at or by calling 906.484.1081.

Great Lakes Boat Building School is a non-profit organization recognized as a charitable organization and is accredited by Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.