Specialist and supplier of marine electrical services and equipment based in Fort Lauderdale, Ward’s Marine Electric has seen first-hand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the yachting sector and supply chain in the United States. Speaking exclusively to SuperyachtNews.com, COO Kristina Hebert discusses the various dynamics that have been at play within the local superyacht industry over the last six months.
“The main thing we experienced in South Florida was that there was a much higher volume of yachts consistently here throughout the summer months – yachts that would normally have been cruising in Europe or other destinations but chose to stay in the US for various reasons due to the pandemic – and for a period of time it seemed like everyone was frozen in place,” explains Hebert.
“That then enabled the boats that were here to take advantage of the downtime and do some refit work. It was a little slow at first because no one was sure how long the situation was going to last but, for South Florida, the refit market has seen a massive increase and a lot of boats have decided to have some work done that maybe they weren’t planning to do until their next yard period this autumn or next year.”
The uptick in refit activity saw an increase in demand for products and equipment at a time when the supply chain was suffering lags in manufacturing capacity due to worldwide lockdowns...
The uptick in refit activity saw an increase in demand for products and equipment at a time when the supply chain was suffering lags in manufacturing capacity due to worldwide lockdowns. While Ward’s Marine Electric was able to procure everything it needed during this time, and therefore avoid any delays to projects due to the unavailability of products, it has not been without challenge.
“From an inventory perspective, we are seeing shortages from some manufacturers based in Europe, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, as different manufacturing plants have experienced various slowdowns due to closures, employee issues or being only allowed to make essential items,” adds Hebert. “It has been a challenge, but we have worked with the vendors and manufacturers to get us the products we need. We have had to find resources, leverage relationships and fly everything in overnight because we didn’t want to risk any kind of shipping delay.”
While Ward’s Marine Electric might have been able to source all required products on time thus far, Hebert admits that there is certainly no excess inventory sitting on the shelves; “There is definitely still a shortage and, if we continue down this path and manufacturers aren’t able to increase their productivity, eventually the balance could tip.”
As with many other companies, the pandemic has presented Ward’s Marine Electric with the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons. “We were able to slow down a little bit, especially during the second quarter, and review our processes,” concludes Hebert. “We were lucky in that the company was considered an essential service and so we never had a closed business day, but this time hasn’t been without significant challenges. We have had to implement safety protocols and change the way we operate, as well as streamline paperwork, move to digital and focus on in-house training to re-tool employees. However, as a result, we are a better business today than we were in February.”
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