Business development and sales director
A member of the Sea Machines team since its early days, Sea Machines’ Phil Bourque, business development and sales director, U.S. Government, has deep roots not only in the company, but also in the marine industry. Phil was exposed to the business at a young age, working high-school jobs in the mold shops of recreational boat factories in Southern California, and after finding some abandoned boat molds in the Mohave desert, he built and sold two custom ski boats. His passion for the industry continued.
A graduate of the University of Redlands, in Redlands, Cali., Phil holds a Bachelors of Applied Science degree in international business, as well as an MBA. After graduation, he made the best of a dour economy and accepted a sales engineering position at a company in Adelanto, Calif., that manufactures specialty mixing systems for high-rate production lines at companies like 3M and Ken’s Foods. While the job wasn’t his end game, it gave him experience in a fabrication shop for machinery – expertise that landed him the role of global account and sales manager for Seakeeper, a manufacturer of innovative stabilization machinery for recreational and commercial boats.
“I spent four years in this global role, starting regionally in Europe,” Phil explained. “By the end, I had the opportunity to open the Singapore office and I was exposed to autonomous marine tech.”
The Singaporean branch established a relationship with a customer using an unmanned surface vessel (USV) to perform high-value ship escorts in the Straits of Malacca. Phil’s interest piqued.
“I started investigating companies that were developing that type of advanced technology,” he said. “I discovered the startup Sea Machines, made the connection and earned the job of director of business development in 2017.”
At that time, Sea Machines was still in its infancy and developing its first products.
“We didn’t have a hardened product to sell,” said Phil. “Sea Machines was still in the concept phase. My role was primarily about educating the market and refining our message that ‘autonomous doesn’t always mean unmanned.’ I helped guide the company where it could be most successful and aligned our solutions with customer challenges.”
The next year, Sea Machines launched its inaugural product, the SM300 autonomous command and control system, and sister product, the SM200 wireless remote-helm control system. With products in hand, Phil made waves.
“It is gratifying and fun to expand our solutions across an entire industry. There is no shortage of applications. It’s fulfilling to address different customer challenges with common, modern technology solutions.”
In January 2021, Phil accepted his current position, which emphasizes growth within the U.S. Government sector, and relocated him to Norfolk, Va.
As for the future, Phil predicts that computer vision is the “next big thing,” and will be a significant enabler for autonomy product development.
“Look at where that technology has taken the car industry. It’s awesome to be part of that ecosystem within the industry I love.”