On 6 April, the once floundering US-based Christensen shipyard announced that its renaissance is near complete with the imminent launch of 50m M/Y Silver Lining. Christensen, which went into receivership in 2015 before having its majority shares acquired by Henry Luken and a business associate, has undergone a period of tumultuous change of late, but one hopes this first project signals better days to come.
Beyond being a victory for the shipyard and its owners, the launch of Silver Lining, due in early May, will be just as poignant, if not more so, for Christensen’s employees, who only 15 months earlier had lost their jobs as a result of the shipyards closure.
“I can’t imagine the angst and the hardship our workers suffered when they arrived to work and found the gates locked,” says Jim Gilbert, a member of Christensen’s senior management who recently made the transition from interim president to president. “All of us in management, and particularly the two people who stepped up to purchase the yard’s assets out of receivership, feel blessed that so many of our best people hung in there through those tough times.”
Silver Lining's bow
In addition to the reemployment of staff and the imminent launch of Silver Lining, Christensen has been focussing on the development of a new company culture in order to counter any preconceptions that may have followed the yard since its closing.
“In the past Christensen had developed a reputation for not building on time and we are very keen on changing the culture of the yard and cultivating positive relationships with owners,” continues Gilbert. “Although we have given our staff reassurances that previously we couldn’t have, the pitfalls of last year are still present in their minds and this has made them hungry and work with a tremendous energy and enthusiasm.”
M/Y Silver Lining
Critically Gilbert explains that Christensen has reinvented the relationship between yard and owner. “We want to really simplify the system so that people can feel secure and comfortable within the process of construction,” he says. “From the beginning, and through every step of the way, we want the owners to feel like we’ve got their backs and that we are fully communicating everything there is to know about the boat and the build.”
The new system that Christensen hopes to employ is based on a monthly payment programme that allows owners to see exactly how their money is being spent.
“One of the biggest hang-ups between clients and shipyards is that the owner never really knows how many hours have gone into the yacht,” Gilbert explains. “Through the new processes owners will receive a monthly statement showing how many hours went into the boast and from what shop. This provides real equity between the yard and the owner in terms of where we are with the price.”