This is the latest is an ongoing series of profiles on Ocean Pines’ staff standouts
Before becoming the Ocean Pines Marina manager, Ron Fisher led a storied career that culminated in a decade of service as the executive director of the Peninsula Regional Medical Group in Salisbury.
According to a biography prepared by the Physician Assistant History Society, Fisher previously held titles such as“sailor, jet mechanic, UPS driver, barber, nurse, community volunteer, columnist [and] 15th President of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.”
Fisher was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania in 1943 and grew up in nearby Selinsgrove. He married his high schoolsweetheart, Shirl, in 1961, and served in the U.S. Navy for four years.
Unsure of what to do next, Fisher enrolled in barber school and cut hair for two years. His clients included naturalist Euell Gibbons and, once, Monkees lead singer Davy Jones.
Then, Fisher got an offer to go to nursing school through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“After nursing school, I was charged with nursing emergency rooms for a year, and then I was offered a position at theGeisinger Health System [in Pennsylvania] in renal dialysis, and I ran their renal dialysis unit for a couple years,” Fisher said.“And then they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to send you to physician’s assistant school.’ I said, ‘Sounds good to me!’
“That was just a normal progression for me,” he said of his varied interests and career paths.
Fisher practiced family medicine for 10 years and later went into administration, still with Geisinger, eventuallybecoming vice president of operations for the western region.
“I was responsible for multiple clinics [and] physicians and staffing and facilities, you name it,” he said.
Fisher also served as the second president of the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants. He is credited with“moving the profession forward through developing relationships with regulatory bodies and professional organizations,”according to the Physician Assistant History Society.
Eighteen years ago, Fisher, although retired, received a call from Peninsula Regional, asking for help in expanding thehospital’s network of physicians.
“I helped them for 11 years!” he said with a laugh.
Fisher started working for Ocean Pines five years ago. He said he’s “always been a fisherman” and kept a boat in theMarina. He and Shirl had a condo in nearby Ocean City.
“After I retired, I just decided I needed something to do. I came down and put an application in to work on the docksand was offered the dockmaster position. That was the beginning,” he said. “I learned on the job, met with some of the other marinas’ staff and learned a lot about managing marinas from them, and here I am.”
Fisher said the job was a welcome change.
“Being in health care for all those years, you deal with a lot of disease and death and everything, and I said to my wife, ‘I want to do something that people enjoy buying.’ It was an easy transition for me, and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
“You meet a lot of people, and just the management aspects of a marina are far different than health care,” Fisher continued. “To me, it’s a lot easier but, at the same time, I enjoy the ability to make a profitable amenity for Ocean Pines – that’s been my goal.”
To say Fisher achieved that goal is an understatement. So far this year, the Ocean Pines marinas have posted a net operating profit of $234,582. His department is more than $35,000 ahead of budgeted numbers and about $20,000 better than it was at the same time, last year.
Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola has taken to calling success at the marinas “The Ron Fisher Effect.”
“Benchmarking [with other marinas] has a lot to do with it,” Fisher said. “I also do gas sales competitively. I’m buying gas, for instance, cheaper than most of the other vendors. That helps.
“Customer service also has a lot to do with it, as well as ease of access to the [Yacht Club] Marina. Having floating docks helps to sell our boat slips, because people don’t have to deal with the tidal surge and everything,” he added.
Fisher also credited “a tremendous staff” with making his life a lot easier.
“They’re very customer oriented and I get a lot of compliments on them. That’s helped a lot,” he said. “Two of the people have been there over 10 years.”
The Yacht Club Marina has slips for 86 boats. This year, Fisher said there was a waiting list for about 40 more.
Also, this year, the amenity added a security detail, and Fisher said the change has gone smoothly.
“The Yacht Club is doing so well that we had a lot of boats coming in and docking in slips that were already rented, ordocking at the gas dock, which is against EPA regulations. Our parking lot was filling up, so we went with permit parking for the boat slips and added security, and that’s helped a lot,” he said.
Fisher has seen some colorful characters over the years. Perhaps the funniest, he said, was a Pennsylvania State Trooper who accidentally pumped 25 gallons of gas into the rod holder of his boat.
“Of course, the gas went down into the bilge of his boat, so he couldn’t start it and had to have the boat towed over to the boat ramp. And they had to have the hazmat team come in and drain the fuel out of the boat,” he said. “The funniest partwas, this guy actually taught hazmat in Pennsylvania.”
In the future, Fisher would like to expand the Yacht Club Marina office to include more retail items, such as boating supplies and fishing tackle.
“We hear that quite often,” he said. “Certainly, they want live and frozen bait. They want fishing rods, if they’re taking kids out, and there’s a lot of products on the market that catch a lot of flounder out here – that’s what I’d like to stock up on.”
Along with serving as Ocean Pines’ dockmaster, Fisher currently writes the monthly “Captain Ron’s Fish Tales”column for the Courier newspaper. He is also a past president of the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce and Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation and served on the Worcester County Department of Health Advisory Council.
Fisher said he enjoys living in the community because it’s a central location for his family.
“My grandkids grew up vacationing here,” he said. “They’re in their mid 20s and 30s now and, in fact, they were all just here for the weekend. My oldest granddaughter has her own real estate company in Pennsylvania and my grandson is a captain in the Marine Corps and teaches at OCS (Officer Candidates School) at Quantico. And my youngest granddaughter works for L’Oréal, up in New Jersey.”
He also said the recreational opportunities in Ocean Pines are second to none.
“I love the water and I like to fish – and it’s got ‘em all,” Fisher said. “There’s nothing I don’t like about Ocean Pines.”