Neal Harrell

Neal is a native of Chapel Hill, NC. He is a 1990 graduate of Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, VA, attended Virginia Military Institute on a lacrosse scholarship, and earned a BS Sociology from Greensboro College in 1995, where he was a 3-time NCAA DIII Lacrosse letterman.  

In 1997, Neal relocated to Wilmington, NC as part of the start-up team for Management Recruiters International. He focused on sourcing talent for automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. While in Wilmington, Neal stayed close to his love for lacrosse as the high-school head coach at Cape Fear Academy and New Hanover High School. He was voted the 1997 NC Private School Lacrosse Coach-of-the-Year.  

Neal founded the search firm Brooks Marine Group in 2002 in Fort Lauderdale, FL after recognizing the need to place talent across the recreational marine industry. The business expanded quickly, opening a second office in Newport, RI in 2004. Today, BMG has recruiting offices in Newport, Charleston, and Ft Lauderdale, placing leadership positions for boat manufacturers, yacht builders, boatyards, marinas, boat dealerships and suppliers to the marine industry.  

In 2016, Neal was awarded the RI Marine Trades Association’s John H. Chafee Boater of the Year, recognizing his contributions to the success of the recreational boating industry in the State. He joined a long line of boating luminaries, including the late Ted Hood, Sr., Halsey Herreshoff and Ken Read. 

In March 2018, Brooks Marine Group was retained to manage the human resources initiatives for New York Yacht Club (NYYC) ‘American Magic’, the US campaign challenging for the 36th America’s Cup competition in Auckland, NZ in 2021. Neal and his team were tasked to recruit, relocate, and onboard a team of more than 100 boat designers and engineers, composite boatbuilders, shore crew, sailors and operations staff. NYYC  ‘American Magic’s’ 2021 campaign was based in RI and Neal’s experience with the local, regional and global marine trades market was beneficial towards building a world-class team. 

Neal has been the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Coach at Middletown High School since 2016, where he helped steer the Islanders to RI State Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2023. He was selected as the 2018 RI High School Coach-of-the-Year and 2018 US Northeast Region Coach-of-the-Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). In addition to his high-school coaching duties, Neal is the president of the Rhode Island Youth Lacrosse League, serving more than 2,500 K-8 girls and boys lacrosse players from 17 town teams across RI. 

Neal is a Trustee at the IYRS School of Technology & Trades and has served on the Boards of the American Boatbuilders & Repairers Association (ABBRA), the US Superyacht Association, the Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Oliver Hazard Perry, as well as the RI Marine Trades Association and South Florida Marine Trades Assocation’s Workforce Committees. He has presented dozens of seminars on identifying, hiring, and retaining top talent. Neal and his firm have ongoing partnerships with the IYRS School of Trades & Technology, the Landing School and many other marine industry training institutions to help students best prepare for careers. 

Photo: Amory Ross, NYYC American Magic