Brooks Marine Group

Brooks Associates

Neal Harrell - President
   View Neal Harrell's profile on LinkedIn

Neal Harrel With nearly twenty years' experience in the search and recruiting industry, Neal's first clients were North Carolina-based furniture and textile manufacturers. In 1997, he helped open one of the top performing management-recruiting firms in the country. That office eventually grew to 20 associates, placing talent into industries including automotive and capital equipment manufacturing, pharmaceutical, IT, publishing, biotech and venture capital. In 1999, Neal recognized the need to create a recruiting niche specifically tailored to the recreational marine sector. Borrowing on many of the world-class manufacturing methodologies he learned in the automotive industry, Neal began assisting OEM boat builders, boatyards, tier I marine industry suppliers and boat dealerships in the selection of key personnel in areas including design & engineering, manufacturing management, quality, operations, purchasing, sales & marketing, HR and finance.

In January of 2002, Neal relocated to Ft Lauderdale, FL to open Brooks Marine Group. A second BMG office was opened in Newport, RI in 2004, and a third in Wilmington, NC in 2006. To date, Brooks has coordinated retained search assignments for marine industry leaders such as Beneteau, Chris-Craft, EdgeWater, Fairline, Grady-White, Hatteras, Hinckley, Malibu Boats, MarineMax, Newport Shipyard, Rybovich, Southport Marina and Westport.

Outside of his day-to-day recruiting responsibilities, Neal has been responsible for the training and development of dozens of recruiters across the country. He has consulted with hundreds of employers on the art of how to identify, attract and retain top talent and had serves on numerous boards focusing on marine industry workforce development.

Neal is an attendee and sought after speaker at many marine trade shows. Examples include the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, Miami Boat Show, Newport Boat Show, International Marine & Boatyard Conference, Marine Dealers Conference, Workboat Show, IBEX and METS, American Super Yacht Forum, Super Yacht Summit, International Marina & Boatyard Conference. Conference presenter on 'Best Practices for Identifying & Recruiting Top Talent' at the 2010 IMBC and the American Boat builders & Repairers Association annual Summer Symposium (Aug. 2010). Guest speaker on the 'State of the Marine Industry: Jobs, Trends & Technology' at the 2011-2015 Int'l Yacht Restoration School's Career Day. Seminar presenter on the topic of 'Hiring & Retaining Top Talent' at the 2011 & 2102 National Marine Dealers Conference & Expo. (MDCE) and 'Best Hiring Practices: How to Interview Candidates' at the 2014 International Marine & Boatyard Conference. Author of 'Waging a War for Talent' in the June/July issue of Professional Boat builder Magazine.

A native of Chapel Hill, NC, Neal attended Virginia Military Institute and later earned a 1995 BS from Greensboro College (NC). A NCAA lacrosse player, he continues to stay close to the game by coaching youth lacrosse. Other hobbies and personal interests include wooden boat restoration, sailing, golf, hunting & fishing and college athletics.

Sofia Gineo - Recruiting Coordinator

As a native “Newporter”, Sofia has always had a strong connection to the ocean. She graduated with honors from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree, and began working for Brooks Marine Group in early December of 2014 as their recruiting coordinator. Sofia’s prior knowledge of the boating world led her to this position and it has been an industry in which she has always wanted to pursue. Sofia is responsible for the administrative, advertising, and social media aspect of BMG, as well as coordination of the bi-weekly Marine Industry Happy Hour events at The Clarke Cooke House. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, ballet, and sailing on Narragansett Bay. She is also an avid traveler and loves experiencing new cultures around the world.

Angelina Todaro - Recruiting Intern

Angelina began working at Brooks Marine Group in 2013 as an intern and recruiting coordinator. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University studying Business Administration. Aside from her studies, Angelina has been a dedicated member of Salve Regina's Sailing Team for three years but her passion for sailing began when she was nine years old. At Brooks Marine Group, she is responsible for uploading client information into our database, while upholding confidentiality. She also engages in postings of available job positions on sites such as Craigslist and, as well as social media sites like Facebook. Lastly, she assists in communication efforts and participation in marine industry social events and local boat shows such as the Newport and Providence Boat Show. Because of her sailing interests and background, she greatly enjoys and appreciates working in the marine industry.


Maria Coughlin - Recruiter

MariaAs a Southern girl, Maria made her way to New England by way of boats and her now husband. Her career in the marine industry began at age 19 as a captain for Sail Caribbean. Having graduated from James Madison University with a double business degree in the 2008 economic downturn, Maria decided to forgo the corporate world and get her 100 ton USCG license and ASA certifications and head to the islands. She loved the British Virgin Islands so much that she called Tortola home for 2 years working as a Charter Captain and Sailing Instructor for Offshore Sailing School and Sail Caribbean. She met her husband one summer on Nantucket where she worked as a sailing instructor with GHYC. She soon moved back stateside and settled in Rhode Island. Maria is also a wedding and portrait photographer, who loves paddle boarding, traveling, and restoring her 1900 house.


M. Charles Festa - Recruiter

MariaGrowing up as a surfer in Rhode Island, Charles has always been connected to the ocean. It was not until he graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2005, however, that he had his first life-changing experience aboard the schooner Corwith Cramer (owned and operated by Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA). After a stint working on yachts in Hawaii, Charles moved back to Rhode Island in 2006 to pursue his Master of Arts in Marine Affairs, during which time he began sailing professionally in Newport, Rhode Island. Charles has acquired a deep and broad network of professional connections within the industry. He left his most recent position as Captain of the 1913 gaff-rigged sloop (Herreshoff design), Spartan, in November of 2015. He has been happily working with Brooks Marine Group ever since. Today, Charles sill enjoys sailing and surfing, and is an avid mountain/road biker.