A conversation with Gulf Craft’s CEO, Erwin Bamps is always a pleasure, particularly when he applies his adroit business mind to yachting.
It is the application of such visionary business principles to the yacht construction business model that has helped Bamps to spearhead the transformation of Gulf Craft into one of the industry’s more prolific builders, a fact symbolised by the appearance of the yard’s new Majesty 155 flagship at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show.
As we tour the vessel, Bamps is keen to emphasise that, for him, it is not the news of the day. Nor does he think the previous day’s announcement that Gulf Craft will build up to 200 feet, and in steel, is of primary importance either.
Instead, he believes the aforementioned are merely examples of a broader evolution that the yard is undergoing, and must undergo Bamps insists, because the new build market is being exposed to profound change.
The ‘profound change’ that Bamps sees is that of UHNW consumption. While the ultra-wealthy of old, he warns, enjoyed the concept of ownership, their counterparts of tomorrow use their wealth to acquire experiences and time. As such, their engagement with luxury markets is a visceral one, “and the allure of investing ten million in something you then have to pay to maintain is not that great.”
Bamps believes the market is set to suffer a fall in orders as new clients opt for elaborate charters instead. Those who do continue to commission projects will be from the higher end of the wealth spectrum and they will do so because they are seeking the experience of conceiving and realising a product.
He is therefore, not only making hay while times are good for the yard, but preparing it for any eventuality by exploring this more bespoke form of building that will attract the more ambitious clients.
His behavioural theory is one that I share, and our common concern is that the industry has not taken adequate steps to adapt to this cultural shift. Perhaps the builders of tomorrow should also consider themselves anthropologists..!