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College of Science and Mathematics

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Marine Executive Named Honored Alumnus

John WaggonerJohn Waggoner (B.S., Biological Sciences, ’79; MBA, ’89) is living his childhood dream of “being able to play with boats the rest of my life so I will never have to grow up and get a real job.” Waggoner, the president and CEO of HMS Global Maritime, was named the 2017 College of Science and Mathematics Honored Alumnus for his accomplishments in the passenger vessel industry over the last 30 years. His career began in the sport fishing industry and has included commercial fishing, offshore oil support vessels, dinner cruise and excursion vessels, casino boats, car and passenger ferry operations, and overnight cruise vessels.

After serving as director of marine operations for Hornblower Dining Yacht’s fleet of 29 dinner cruise vessels, Waggoner and his partner founded Hornblower Marine Services in 1994 and later renamed the company HMS Global Maritime. The successful full-service marine management business grew from one employee to a staff of more than 800 and now exceeds gross revenues of $150 million annually.

HMS Global Maritime has received numerous awards and recognitions. For five of the past six years, the company has been listed on Louisville Business First’s Fast 50 — the 50 fastest-growing companies in Louisville, Ky. — and on Inc. 5000 — a list of top entrepreneurs. Louisville Business First selected HMS Global Maritime as a finalist for the Business of the Year Awards every year from 2012-16. In addition, Waggoner was named a finalist in the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for the Ohio Valley region in 2016.

While at Cal Poly, Waggoner was nominated Outstanding MBA of the Year and selected by his peers as the MBA with the highest stress tolerance, a talent well-suited to a career in the marine industry.

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