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“Know Your Ships” author and owner, Roger LeLievre, a resident of Sault Ste. Marie, MI, shares his journey- from being a journalism graduate to becoming a passionate writer for the maritime industry. During the conversation, Roger discusses his fond memories of learning photography, venturing into journalism, and exploring different aspects of maritime tales. The transition in his career starts when he inherits “Know Your Ships” from Tom Mance and decides to devote full time into bolstering the brand and its offerings.
Sharing the Story of Great Lakes Shipping Through ‘Know Your Ships’
Sharing and maintaining the legacy of ‘Know Your Ships’, the comprehensive guidebook series focused on the ships journeying the Great Lakes, is not just a passion – it’s a lifetime commitment for Roger LeLievre. Inspired by the enormous stories encapsulated within these majestic vessels, Roger has been successfully steering this enterprise into the hearts of boat enthusiasts and casual readers alike. So much so, that his most recent engagement found him in the podcast ‘Total Michigan’, where he shared his journey of preserving, innovating, and expanding this maritime legacy.
A Boat Nerd’s Beginning
Roger’s fascination with ships began during his childhood in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. His interest was piqued further when he discovered the ‘Know Your Ships’ guidebook. As Cliff Duvernois, the podcast host, aptly phrases it, Roger may have started off as an interested observer but today, he’s rightly called the ‘king of boat nerds.’
His bond with the series’ former owner and maritime afficinado Tom Mance, the original publisher of the ‘Know Your Ships’ series, propelled him into becoming a part of this grandeur. Roger vividly remembers his first contribution to the series as a 12-year-old, an accomplishment that made him realize that his love for boats and their stories was not just a hobby but a passion.
The Transition from Observer to Owner
After the demise of Tom Mance, Roger inherited ‘Know Your Ships’ and started leveraging his skills learned from his career in journalism to keep this maritime endeavor afloat. A major shift came when he computerized the book-publishing process, not only making it easier but also allowing him to incorporate changes, such as recent shipping industry trends.
To future-proof the business and ensure continuity, Roger focused on reaching out to younger generations. He onboarded Sam Hankinson and Nick Stenstrup, who helped expand the brand online, utilizing social media, e-commerce, and digital marketing techniques. Today, their approach has helped ‘Know Your Ships’ grow its fanbase and provide a platform for boat enthusiasts to connect and share their stories and experiences.
Why ‘Know Your Ships’ is Special
Every new edition of ‘Know Your Ships’ highlights the constant evolution of the shipping industry. In addition to providing basic information about ships, varying from their origins to their current status, the guidebook connects readers with the vast network of individuals behind the scenes who make these ships operational.
Notably, passerby people often wonder about the stories these ships hold and the life onboard. And that’s where ‘Know Your Ships’ comes into the picture by answering these queries. According to Roger, the ships, their journeys, and the people working on them all make for captivating narratives that have intrigued readers for years.
Roger LeLievre’s work with ‘Know Your Ships’ is a perfect example of combining a personal passion with a sense of historical and cultural preservation. Not only has he successfully carried the legacy of his mentor, but he has also elevated it, driving the brand’s growth while still maintaining its core appeal. His story is one of dedication, creativity, and above all else, unapologetic love for all things nautical!