Sea of Change
HMY Yachts owner talks about the evolution of the marine industry
By Arnie Rosenberg
Steve Moynihan worked his first boat show, the Miami International Boat Show, in 1975. It was staged in a compact location and was almost exclusively a showcase for new boats. Oh, how things have changed!
This year’s show, held last month (not to mention the 31st-annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, taking place March 17-20), displayed more pre-owned boats than ever before and highlighted the constantly evolving technology that helps drive the sale of new yachts.
One of the biggest differences from 1975 is the size of the luxury yachts. Visitors to the 2016 Yachts Miami Beach ogled at 200-foot-long crafts. “In 1975, if there was a 70-foot boat, it was the queen of the show,” Moynihan remembers.
Another change since 1975? Back then, Moynihan was just getting his feet wet in the marine industry. Today, he’s the owner of Palm Beach Gardens-based HMY Yachts, whose growing operation now comprises 12 offices, stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to North Key Largo; four service locations; and a staff of 90.
Knowing the industry and understanding its clientele are keys to the company’s success, Moynihan says. “We have a track record. We’ve been a successful new boat dealer for more than 30 years. Customers want bigger, for sure, and, of course, technology has contributed to a lot of the changes. Builders are now offering boats with technology and improvements that were not available in the pre-owned market, so if a customer wants that, he has only one place to go. He has to go get a new boat.”
What’s new? Moynihan points to gyro-stabilization systems and the latest in materials and propulsion systems – offered by manufacturers such as Viking Yachts, Princess and Cruisers Yachts – as features “you just can’t get in a pre-owned boat.” This also helped Moynihan build HMY into one of the largest yacht-brokerage companies in the world.
Still, purchasing a multimillion-dollar yacht isn’t like grabbing an item off the shelf. Returning customers – who may be buying their second, third or fourth yachts from HMY – are as important as the neophyte buyer.
“It’s very important to attract new boaters into the marketplace,” Moynihan says. “Just by attrition, people leave boating. All kinds of things happen to make people change how they’re going to spend their leisure time. So it’s important to use the events we sponsor and co-sponsor to attract people to get involved in this lifestyle.”
Fishing tournaments, rendezvous and other events are designed to enhance the yachting lifestyle for HMY’s existing customers and to offer a taste of that lifestyle to those considering their first purchase.
“We provide a valuable service and have demonstrated to our customers we can make their yachting experience a pleasant one,” says Moynihan. “We’re able to attract talented and experienced salespeople to come to work here, and we support them with the right marketing, the right boat-show presence, the right inventory, and the ability to make some moves – like buying inventory and buying trades – that many other brokerage companies can’t make.”
And, he stresses, it doesn’t hurt to be located in “the best market in the world, on the east coast of Florida.”
As HMY Yachts is going strong, opening its newest office late last year in Harbourside Place in Jupiter, Moynihan remains committed to the people his company serves.
“The relationships we’ve developed through the years are just so important,” he says. “It’s rewarding to be part of a process where people are going out and enjoying themselves, enjoying the fruits of their labors. It’s all about spending time with their friends and family, and it means a lot that we provide valuable assistance in that process.”