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Disney’s Fleet in Orlando, Florida, is No Small World: David Hart

"Be willing to learn. Be willing to be coached. Dedicate yourself to learning and listening rather than trying to prove yourself."


Right out of high school, David Hart started working as a test driver for Mercury Marine. He got sunburned. He got rained on. But he tested the engines just like they were used every day by customers. “It was a dream job for somebody just out of high school,” he says.

As a teenager, David didn’t quite know what he wanted to do for a career. He knew he loved the water. He’d grown up around it — boating and sailing and fishing — so he was sold on a career that would have something to do with water. He explored his options. Maybe he’d do marine patrol or oceanography. Maybe he’d work as crew or captain on a ship.

Today, David is 36 years into his career at Mercury Marine in Orlando, Florida, where he helps service the extensive fleet of watercraft on the Disney World properties. He saw a career path within the company and decided to stay put. Now, he works as a hiring manager. He says it’s still a dream job.

Mercury Marine started in Wisconsin more than 75 years ago where it still has its headquarters. It’s now grown into the largest builder of marine propulsion systems in the world.

Mercury Marine pushes continuing education for its employees. Since technology is always changing, it’s important that their technicians keep up with it. “We have online courses that a student can do at home or here. We also have the courses where technicians will go back and get specific training on specific parts or types of engines,” David says.

He loves to hire grads from Marine Mechanics Institute (MMI) simply because of the quality of applicants. The courses students take at MMI are very relevant to the jobs at Mercury. “We do a lot of maintenance and routine services on a regular basis,” David notes. Since engines accumulate quite a bit of miles quickly, there’s a lot to routinely check on so that these boats are dependable for guests who visit the park. David likes that MMI grads come out of school with a good foundation of knowledge. Knowledge and technical skills are important but work ethic, David says, is critical to being successful.

David also notes how important it is to grow in a position. “Don’t come in and be like ‘I’ve got this. I know it.’” He suggests that new hires should be willing to have technicians who have been around longer teach them a thing or two. Be willing to learn. Be willing to be coached. Dedicate yourself to learning and listening rather than trying to prove yourself, he says.

He also emphasizes: Take advantage of all the training available. David’s career has taken him from test driving boats to hiring the test drivers. He’s done it by paying attention and constantly learning new things.

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