Gulf Craft’s new CEO, Gregory Yeakle, has enjoyed great commercial success in management positions of industrial businesses all over the world. So, when he ran a strategic retreat for the leadership team of Gulf Craft – while working for a consultancy company that works closely with the shipyard – it became quite clear that he himself fit the bill for a management position at the yard. And the icing on the cake? He is an avid, life-long boater.
Therefore, by the time of the announcement to the market of Yeakle’s appointment as CEO on 4 June, he was well-informed of some key growth areas that might raise the bar at Gulf Craft. “The organisation has enjoyed great growth in recent years, but there are three key areas of development that I think can really drive the company forward,” he explains, during an exclusive conversation with SuperyachtNews.
One of Yeakle’s immediate plans is “to renew the focus on all of the brands”. By this, he means treating them as singular brands – each will have its own direct line of accountability and resources to be able to follow its own individual business plan and growth objectives.
“We have the Utility Series for transportation; Silvercraft, which is a sport fishing line; the Oryx brand, which is luxury sport boats; Nomad Yachts, which is more of an adventure boat for families and has great space utilisation; and the Majesty Yachts brand, which continues to push the superyacht envelope as luxury.
“One of our major advantages is that we’re a highly vertically integrated organisation.”
“I would like to reinforce their strength as separate brands more than we have done in the past,” Yeakle explains. He is however mindful of the “great diversification of risk” offered by an extensive product line.
The second part of the company’s finely-tuned strategic plan is a focused investment on refreshing each of the brands via an accelerated product lifecycle management. “You can expect us to have models coming out in future at a faster pace than before,” he suggests.
“One of our major advantages is that we’re a highly vertically integrated organisation. Many of our competitors have different subcontractors coming in and out and they are all working with different yards. We have the luxury of having a team that is 100 per cent Gulf Craft, and that will really help our development speed of new products and our quest for improved quality – it is much easier to do this when you’re as vertically integrated as we are.”
The last discernible focus of the refined strategy, according to Yeakle, will be the structuring of Gulf Craft as a ‘learning organisation’, so that it continues to attract and retain the best talent possible. “There was a lot of work prior to my arrival on systems, methods and procedures and a very strong focus on quality,” Yeakle continues. “Our ambition is to become the standard by which others are judged in our chosen markets, so we’re continuing to invest in the skills required to make sure that we get there.”
“Our ambition is to become the standard by which others are judged in our chosen markets.”
He also commented on the yard’s ambition to produce larger boats. In fact, when I ask if the yard, which currently has a Majesty 175 in build, plans to build over 200ft in the near future, he answers definitively: “Yes, we will be over that mark significantly.”
Yeakle believes that there is a great deal of brand loyalty up for grabs among the top shipyards – and that clients are really going out there to get a good deal and a quality build that aligns with their use. “It’s a great opportunity for us,” he continues. “There will no doubt be more reconciliation in the marketplace, so those with solid foundations will be met with great opportunities.
“There is now an abundance of new chartering and finance solutions, so more and more people have access to the superyacht lifestyle.” Yeakle believes that the options superyacht clients have now is simply amazing and that imagination is the biggest limiting factor. “If you can imagine, now, there is a very good chance we can build it and that’s very exciting,” he concludes.
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