Dan Naor, chief operating officer of Baltimore Marine Centers, is a former captain in the Israeli Navy.
His Baltimore story began in the late 1990s when he noticed 16 acres of property up for auction adjacent to the Inner Harbor in Canton. Naor, now 47, made the winning bid and with the help from investors worked tirelessly to establish Baltimore Marine Centers, which has multiple marina locations on the harbor as well as an extensive helicopter travel service.
The property in Canton, which was a mere starting point for Naor, looks almost nothing like it did 20 years ago. It was a “disaster and falling apart,” Naor noted from his office overlooking one of his magnificently developed marinas filled with beautiful yachts and boats.
At the time, Naor thought “a boat and a small marina, and life is good.” Little did he realize that his passion of starting a small local marina would grow into a hugely successful business and that he would have a respected and influential voice in the harbor community.
Naor prides his business on “listening to our customers no matter what” and has noticed that he is often met with one unifying complaint about a problem he cannot fix on his own: The condition of the water in the harbor is of grave concern to costumers, Naor explained.
Instead of filing complaints with the city, Naor knows the multilayered solution, which he believes includes fixing sewage leaks, improving storm-drain systems, educating kids statewide about harbor pollution and introducing dozens of floating wetlands to the harbor’s waters.
A floating wetlands, Naor said, is essential to cleaning up the harbor. To put it simply, Naor defines a floating wetlands as “a matrix that grows bacteria, which then eats allege,” biochemically cleaning the harbor every minute of every day.
Beyond the ethical reasons for cleaning the harbor, Naor spelled out the interconnected communal good that can come from a clean harbor.
“The more boats we can bring, the more business we can bring to the entire city of Baltimore,” he said.
Longtime business partner Dr. Steve Berlin noted that Naor’s “vision of the harbor creates very important concepts that will only enhance the harbor with new jobs and revenue for the city.”
Yet, Naor’s business is not solely confined to the Inner Harbor. In October 2010, Naor identified a problem and found a solution — in Israel.
Before Naor stepped in, when immediate trauma care was needed in the northern Golan or in the Southern Negev, patients would spend hours being transported by ambulance to the nearest hospitals in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Haifa. In partnership with the Red Cross in Israel, Naor provided nine helicopters and 30 pilots; Red Cross provided the medics.
While at first the relationship was purely business, Naor now sees more to it.
“Will we make money? I don’t care at this point. The point is to save lives,” he said.
Since its inception, the medical evacuation has picked up around 1,300 patients.
Molly Polis, who has worked for Naor for the past 16 years, called him nothing short of “a visionary who is not afraid to take risks.”
Naor wanted to provide medical evacuation services for those in the Negev and the Golan. He did it. Naor wants to clean up the harbor so the economy can prosper and the harbor will be filled with boats. He’ll do it.
Theodore Herzl’s words ring true for this Israeli native: “If you want it, it is no dream.”
Justin Hayet is a JT intern [email protected]