We wrapped up the 2022 boating season boatless for the first time in twenty-two years. In this case, it was a good thing; in fact, it was planned.
My New Knee
My right knee had outlived its useful life, and I knew I had to block out six weeks at some point to get it replaced.
I also knew that I’d have to start making big-time progress payments toward constructing our new Maritimo as early as December of 2022, so it made sense to end the season a little early and liquidate the equity in our beloved Relentless while the liquidating was good!
Surgery was scheduled for September 29, and Maritimo was hosting an event in Newport the weekend before, so the timing was perfect.
Thanks to Maritimo Americas president Dave Northrop and his wife Sheryl, we managed to enjoy a “boatless” boating weekend in Newport, Rhode Island, just before my knee surgery!
The Maritimo Migration- Newport
I met Dave and Sheryl at the 2019 Newport Boat Show and may have never discovered Maritimo had they not exhibited there.
Thanks to their skyrocketing sales, Maritimo doesn’t have any stock boats to display and thus has cut back from most boat shows. Instead, they have begun hosting a fantastic event called the Maritimo Migration.
It’s hard to put a label on the Maritimo Migration Event. Both current owners and sales prospects are invited. If Maritimo happens to have a new boat when the migration occurs, they’ll display it. Otherwise, all the boats on display are provided by owners.
Most boat builders avoid connecting prospects with current owners for fear of learning about problems. Maritimo clearly does not, and after speaking with owners for a weekend, I can unequivocally say I never heard an owner speak of any issues with Maritimo.
Friday Welcome Party
The original plan called for a cocktail party on the deck above the Newport Yachting Center office.
I mentioned five owner boats were displayed at the NYC, but more were planned. Given the sea conditions, I’m impressed the five made the trip – but I think that’s attributable to Maritimo’s Blue Water heritage.
Here’s a short video of Seagull eating up some vicious Rhode Island Sound chop en route to Newport.
As reported last year, I think the Maritimo design is well-suited for Buzzards Bay’s typical chop.
The Harborside Deck at The Newport Yachting Center is an incredible venue for a cocktail party, but it is chronically underutilized. Sadly, thanks to the 20-knot winds, Maritimo moved the cocktail party to Sardella’s Italian Restaurant – the site of the opening dinner.
Despite only five boats arriving by sea, there were about 50 people at Sardella’s when we arrived.
Although some of the attendees knew one another, it was mostly a group of strangers mingling about and making introductions.
Dave Northrop kicked things off with the perfect ice-breaker. He called out each of us to introduce ourselves and share how we ended up at Maritimo.
I was so busy listening to everyone’s story that I forgot to photograph the delicious tower of Italian food delivered to each table. Fortunately, I gathered my senses when the mouthwash dessert platter arrived!
The Maritimo Shop Talk
I love meeting new friends, a good cocktail party, and a free meal. Still, the main draw to the Maritimo Migration was the Shop Talk session conducted by Phil Candler – Maritimo Corporate General Manager, who was flying in from Australia.
Listening to Phil’s report on the state of the company was a rare opportunity.
The Saturday morning event was at the La Forge Casino Restaurant. Despite its name, it was never a casino.
The La Forge is located at the top of the hill, a short walk up Memorial Ave. It’s immediately adjacent to the International Tennis Museum.
Phil Candler – General Manager
Phil’s presentation was billed as a Corporate Update. As a former Chief Marketing Officer, I’ve created and delivered hundreds of corporate updates in my younger years. I have also sat through hundreds. They generally contain financial and product highlights with customer stories inserted here and there.
Right off the bat, I knew that was not what Phil had in mind for the audience of owners and prospects.
Phil spent the first ten minutes or so describing his life growing up on the sea and the boats he’s built and operated. In fact, his entire family grew up on boats.
I knew owner Bill Barry-Cotter and his son CEO Tom were avid boaters, but I expected the Maritimo senior staff to have more general industrial resumes – but not so!
Here’s Phil’s experience from his LinkedIn Profile:
Yep, that’s 21 years of senior experience building some of the best boats and marine power plants in the industry.
As a private company, Maritimo does not publicize its financial statements. But we do know that when Bill Barry-Cotter sold Riviera, he pocketed $180,000,000. He then used that money to fund the creation of Maritimo. Thanks in large part to the startup cash and experienced management team, I understand that Maritimo is a debt-free business.
The absence of debt has a profound benefit to the customer. The upfront money I was required to pay to secure a build spot was minimal, and the bulk of the price we’re paying for the boat isn’t due until the finished boat arrives in America.
The terms I had for both of the new Back Coves we built new were far more front-end loaded, and in both cases, the boat had to be “paid in full” before it would be released from the factory.
Another striking message from the corporate update was the dramatic increase in sales volume. When I first came across Maritimo, they were building 40 boats a year worldwide, and 20 were going to the United States.
Since the introduction of the M55, sales have skyrocketed:
- They have sold 80 – M55s
- They are building one new M55 every nine days.
- Delivery for a new M55 is currently 2025.
- They have also sold 25 – M60s and M600s.
- They have sold 15 – M75s before building the first one!
That’s 130 boats on order for these three models. Phil never mentioned the number of orders they have for the X-50, M51, S51, M64, or M70. Clearly, Maritimo has grown to become a significantly larger-scale yacht builder in a very short time.
These impressive sales figures demonstrate great design and marketing, but growth like this can be risky. Maritimo must now execute to deliver these orders with the same level of quality and customer satisfaction that got them to this point.
Scaling For Performance
Historians will study how businesses responded to the Covid Pandemic and associated government restrictions. It was a huge boon for companies like Amazon and Zoom while nearly destroying the Cruise and Theatre industries.
Imagine you were running a yacht-building business with a multimillion product that takes months to build when the news swept the world that everything was locking down.
Several major boatbuilders reacted by shutting down – deferring orders for materials and laying off workers. Maritimo did just the opposite.
Surprise #1 – The Maritimo Supply Strategy
Phil shared that, surprisingly, Maritimo went in the other direction. As a corporation full of boaters, they never worried about demand; their concern was for their supply chain and the availability of materials amid lockdowns.
Phil said they pulled in supply orders and started adding storage sheds to their Queensland, Australia, campus. They stocked up on fiberglass, engines, and transmissions – all at 2020 prices. Brilliant.
I spent the last decade of my working career in Supply Chain Management, and I can tell you that I have never seen a supply strategy more unconventional than Maritimo’s.
Back then, we were all praising “Just In Time,” which meant timing inbound materials to arrive at the assembly line at the last minute.
I wondered how Maritimo could lock in 2020 prices for a January 2023 build 18 months in advance – now I know.
Surprise #2 – The Maritimo Workforce Strategy
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the #1 challenge facing every business in 2022 is maintaining an adequate workforce.
At my first dinner with Dave Northrop in 2021, I recall him talking about the differences between building yachts in Australia and Maine. He said anyone could be hired to build boats in Maine, but in Australia, a worker must be a licensed Shipwright. He said it takes years of apprenticeship to achieve one’s Shipwright Credentials.
I’m not sure if that’s true across all boat builders in Australia or just Maritimo. Still, I did some research and confirmed that apprenticeships and courses to earn Shipwright Credentials are widespread in Australia.
I found an employment ad for a Shipwright from the US Navy, and it said there were no educational requirements, so I think I’m following what Dave was telling me.
Regardless of the details, it’s clear that the bar is higher for being a boat builder in Australia than it is in the US, and that means building and maintaining a high-performance workforce is even more challenging.
And I guess that explains my Surprise #2 in Phil’s corporate update. Of all the topics he covered, he spent the most time talking about their Apprentice program and other ways Maritimo works to recruit and develop skilled Shipwrights.
Phil described a program called “5S” that involves assuring the overall wellness of new employees and cited a 95% employee retention stat with great pride.
Phil highlighted a young lady at Maritimo who Australia’s Boating Industry Association had awarded the Apprentice Of The Year.
“Across The Street”
In January, Maritimo announced plans to hire 60 new shipbuilding workers,- a tall order in light of the skill requirements.
I found it interesting that Phil kept mentioning “Across the Street” when discussing employee satisfaction, so I went to the internet and looked a little closer at Maritimo’s campus.
It turns out that the Riviera Factory is a one-minute walk ACROSS THE STREET from Maritimo!
Now I get it. It’s clear that Maritimo has an excellent strategy to fortify its growing workforce.
The more I learned about the design of Maritimo boats, the better I felt about buying one. After hearing Phil’s presentation, I feel very good about Maritimo as a thriving business.
Lunch At The Reef
The structured agenda paused from 11:00 to 5:00 to allow everyone to check out Newport. Mrs. Horne and I know Newport very well, so we used the time to visit our favorite “sleeper” restaurant in Newport- The Reef.
It was odd eating here and not staying on a boat, but it was great, nevertheless.
The Boat Hop
As I mentioned earlier, every boat Maritimo builds is spoken for, and thus there are no demos to show prospective customers. The way the Maritimo Migration deals with this is through something they call the Boat Hop.
Current owners graciously open their boats up to everyone at the event, and Maritimo supplies libations and appetizers.
While I’m sure everyone cleaned up their boats for The Hop, I have to say; they looked like new boats that people were living in.
I was very impressed by Michelle and her 2015 M48. We just sold our pristine 2017 Sabre 48, but Michelle’s 2015 looked much newer. It turns out that operating a clean boat was only the beginning of her story.
Michelle’s husband was an avid boater, and they cruised together for years. Tragically, he recently passed away. She then made the bold decision to become the captain, and she now runs the boat on her own with a little help from friends and family.
The Boat Hop was so much better than a boat show. We got to see boats in the real world. Unlike Boat Show Boats, these boats weren’t buffed up by professional Detailers, and our hosts were actually living in them!
And unlike a boat show, where you spend 10 minutes wandering around a boat full of strangers and salespeople, we spent more time and made new friends while discussing details about each boat.
I’ve met many corporate marketing executives and dealership owners at boat shows over the years, but never the general manager for the boatbuilder.
But in Newport, Sheryl arranged a meeting for Mrs. Horne and me with Phil Candler to go over any questions about the details of our new boat.
The Migration was a great event, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more boat builders following Maritimo’s lead. We look forward to bringing our own Maritimo to a Migration in the future.
After the Boat Hop, we took the short walk to the second-floor private dining room at 22 Bowens. Unlike Friday night, when we were all strangers meeting for the first time, we were now old friends enjoying each other’s stories and making plans to rendezvous in the future.
As you probably know, I love 22 Bowens. It’s a first-class big city steak house sitting on the shores of Newport Harbor.
But feeding fifty people a great steak is a different beast.
Yet they pulled it off with grace.
The Maritimo Migration in Newport was a lot of fun, but more importantly, it was our immersion into a new world. Our three Sabre/Back Coves were great boats, and over the last six years, we’ve made many new friends with fellow owners, but I never really got to know the company as well as I already know Maritimo.
Of course, at this point in the buying process, everything is Sunshine and Rainbows – we don’t have our new boat yet! Once we do, I’m sure we’ll have issues, and then we’ll see how Maritimo handles things.
Although a few of the Rhode Island Maritimo owners live in Massachusetts, we’ll have the first one with a home port in our state, and the Mattapoisett Boatyard will be our service provider.
As I mentioned when I first talked about buying a Maritimo last year, I think the design is ideally suited for the unpleasant seas here in Buzzards Bay.
If you, or anyone you know, is shopping for a new boat in this class, please reach out to me at email@example.com, and I will be happy to answer questions and connect you with the right people at Maritimo America.
Maritimo sells direct in New England, and I can walk you through its advantages in both sales terms and service.
That’s All Folks!
I guess this closes the book on the 2022 boating season. I have a few more posts planned, but no more adventure reports. Seeya in April when we’ll hopefully be Christening our Maritimo M60.