In the latest instalment of The Superyacht Group’s Digital Dialogues series, Martin Redmayne is joined by Howard Lowe and Ivo Veldhuis of Mayfair Marine to discuss the importance of independent council for superyacht build projects and the many and varied improvements that can still be made to improve the owner experience and the effective completion of projects.

Howard Lowe is the founder and managing director of Mayfair Marine with over 20 years of experience in the superyacht sector. He has managed a variety of significant projects, primarily in the 30-100m-plus range, providing him with first-hand knowledge of the many complex processes involved in both new construction and major refit work. Ivo Veldhuis, technical manager at Mayfair Marine, is a highly experienced chartered naval architect and marine engineer with 25 years of experience in the industry. He has been a key figure in the management of several large-scale, multi-disciplinary, yacht projects with budgets exceeding €100m.

“I believe that the customer experience at the moment is not as good as it should be,” starts Lowe. “A lot of our time is spent defending positions, part technical, part legal, and the number of discussions about change orders and costs of change [is unacceptable]. There is always a commercial angle on something and, of course, that is important, but the whole framework is that we rush into contracts. We know the build time, but if more effort was put in upfront to sort some of the issues out [then the market would benefit]. Do the due diligence, plan things out, and really invest in frontend engineering - it would really make the whole experience more pleasant.”

“Another frustration that we have is the blame culture that exists and, to a certain extent, the ‘yes’ culture that we have,” adds Veldhuis. “What I mean by that is that the clients we are working with are powerful, very wealthy and used to having things their own way. However, with yachting, especially where engineering is concerned, things cannot always go their way. Sometimes it is difficult to operate in those conditions and what frustrates us the most is not being able to have an honest and clear conversation with the owners because you have to penetrate the bubble before you can get somebody to understand what you are talking about.”

One of the fundamental issues, the Mayfair team suggests, is that build management teams are all too often bundled in with another product and, as a result, are not truly independent. It is often commented upon that legal teams within the superyacht sphere operate so effectively because they provide truly unbiased opinions and effectively compartmentalise different elements of a transaction. By contrast, technical services are rarely as objective.

“I think it is really important that technical services are seen like that. Clients also need to look more closely at the competence of the team they have chosen to use,” continues Lowe. “They often see quite a big organisation, but when you drill down into the technical elements of the team it is quite slim, [the large enterprise] is a little bit of a veneer.”

Elsewhere within the interview, the Mayfair Marine team discuss the wastage that occurs without proper planning, lessons to be learnt from the commercial world, front-loaded engineering processes, a lack of innovation driven by regulation, future technologies and much more. To view the full interview, click here.

The One to One series is a collective campaign for change and industry improvement, and we welcome participants from all sectors. If you would like to take part or contribute your thoughts, please contact Eleanor Shepherd.  

You can view the ever-growing archive of Digital Dialogues here.

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