With any new year comes change. That couldn’t be more so for Watermark in 2022. Effective January 1, 2022, longtime Watermark president Debbie Gosselin retired, turning over the business to Watermark General Manager of Vessel Activities and longtime family friend Jake Iversen and his wife Laura.
“While this may come as a surprise to some, we have been planning the hand-off for some time,” Gosselin explained. “I couldn’t be more confident of entrusting the stewardship of this organization to Jake. He is passionate about Watermark and everything it stands for.”
“As the new president of Watermark, Jake is well-poised to lead the business to success as it enters the next fifty years,” Gosselin said.
In 1999, Gosselin purchased Watermark from her father C. Edward Hartman, II. Hartman founded Watermark, then Chesapeake Marine Tours, with Bert Jabin in 1972. They started with a Day on the Bay Cruise to St. Michaels, which remains one of the company’s most popular offerings.
Over the years, the company grew from one boat to a fleet of 12 and expanded to Baltimore. In 2004 Chesapeake Marine Tours acquired Three Centuries Tours, which had been providing walking tours since 1975, creating Watermark, the provider of the complete Chesapeake Bay experience as it is known today.
“I couldn’t be happier and more honored to take the helm at Watermark,” Jake Iversen said. “Debbie and her father before her have built a strong, vibrant company. Watermark’s biggest asset, though, is the Watermark team.”
Iversen, the son, and grandson of Coast Guardsmen takes the helm at Watermark after five years as General Manager of Vessel Activities, a position that provided him intimate knowledge of the boats and the operations of the business. He graduated from the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies, where he earned a Merchant Mariner Credential clearing him as an officer on any sized vessel. He worked at sea for several years in international shipping on multiple types of vessels.
“He was at sea for more than 200 days a year,” Laura Iversen explained. “He began driving Harbor Queen during his time home and fell in love with Watermark and the culture of the company. When Debbie asked him to come work at Watermark full-time, he left the shipping industry and started as GM so he could work closer to home.”I couldn’t be more confident of entrusting the stewardship of this organization to Jake. He is passionate about Watermark and everything it stands for. --Debbie Gosselin Click To Tweet
Jake and Laura are both born and raised in the Annapolis area, where they live with 10-year-old Sky and their yellow Lab Rudder.
“You couldn’t find a more suitable next president to continue the maritime and capital city traditions established by the Hartman family,” she said. “This is his passion, his dream, his industry. He is hard-working and driven and will be dedicated to maintaining everything that makes Watermark special.”
Laura has worked in business development and non-profit leadership, most recently as executive director for Start the Adventure in Reading. She resigned last year to assist in the acquisition of Watermark and the transition of ownership.
What’s next for Gosselin after 25 years leading Watermark?
“There is much on my bucket list, and my husband and I look forward to putting some checks on that list while still in good health. Five grandchildren and some travel come first to mind,” she said.
As for Watermark, expect more of the same.
“You know the saying, don’t fix what isn’t broken. That will be my approach to running Watermark,” Iversen said. “As time goes, we may find ways to improve and innovate, but five months or five years from now, you’ll still see the same Watermark with the same culture at its heart. Watermark’s tours and cruises connect visitors and locals alike to the history, culture, and fun of Annapolis, Baltimore, and the Chesapeake Bay.”