Philip Roach was a marine electronics salesman attending the 2004 Southampton (UK) Boat Show when he saw his first Nordhavn. Two things immediately struck him. The first was the boat’s stability: despite the strong winds of that gloomy autumn day which rocked the other boats tied up all around them, the 57-foot Nordhavn stayed put. The second was the hull’s bulbous bow. “I had never seen such a thing on a leisure vessel!” Philip recalls. He was instantly curious about what else the yacht had to offer, so he stepped on board and was introduced to someone from the head office in California who amiably took him around.
Phil left the boat and went back to his own exhibit to work, but the tour – and the boat – never left his head. In fact, a year later, Phil found himself back at the Southampton show, this time on a Nordhavn 47, vying for a sales position with the European team. On board was the same guy from California who had shown him around the previous year: PAE’s president, Dan Streech. “It’s kind of unusual for a company president to show a components salesman over their boat at a show,” remarks Phil. “I liked that personal touch and the pride he had in what his company produced.” On board the 47, Dan offered Phil the job as the Europe’s first salesman under European sales manager Neil Russell. “Easiest decision I have ever made,” notes Phil.
At that point, Phil – a lifelong boater, who came from a family of career boaters – had his work cut out for him. No one in Europe even knew what a Nordhavn was. Just as it had been for him at the 2004 Southampton Boat Show, the boat was catching the eyes of many, but the name had not yet branded itself in the region. Phil recalls his first months of work at the company: “People would just stare at our boats open mouthed and ask, ‘What is that?’”
Europe proved to be a new adventure for the company. The region had seen very few Nordhavns, but using the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally as a springboard, the company seized the opportunity to bring the long-range cruising by power concept to the masses across the Atlantic. “The impact has been fantastic,” says Phil. “People want to venture further, be free to plan and live out cruising that in the past only sailboats could achieve. But at the same time not give up the home comforts. Ultra reliable, safe motor yachts that offer unparalleled comfort and fuel efficiency is something that the European marketplace lacked until our arrival.”
For Phil, most of his sea miles on Nordhavns have come during shakedown cruises of new boats. The Hamble (Southampton)-based office’s proximity to the Channel Islands makes Guernsey an ideal shakedown destination for new owners so Phil can practically make the trip with his eyes closed at this point. He’s also assisted on deliveries through the English Channel and the North Sea for the company’s participation in the Dusseldorf Boat Show. But his most memorable time on a Nordhavn was spent last year on a four-day trip assisting a new owner with the delivery of his Nordhavn 47 from Southampton to Oslo, Norway. “On that trip we encountered every kind of weather condition, but arrived in Oslo in perfect weather with, what seemed, the whole of Norway waving us into port!” he said. “The feeling of achievement for all on board was wonderful.”
That atmosphere encapsulated what Phil relishes about his role as a Nordhavn sales rep. “I have spent my career in high pressured sales roles, both within and outside the marine industry but, whilst the pressure is still high, I am selling something that is going to enrich lives and ultimately give ordinary individuals the chance to do exceptional things. Being part of that process is a privilege and what motivates me is to make that process as smooth and simple as possible.” Since much of being a salesman involves relationships and offering guidance through the emotional ride of purchase and build, Phil’s degree in Psychology has proven to be invaluable.
Working for Nordhavn Europe has put Phil in the unique position of being busier and making more sales now than at any point since he started with Nordhavn just over four years ago. Chalk that up to the number of Nordhavns now found not simply just cruising the Med and the European waters, but actually homeporting there, not to mention the widespread coverage the company gets in the boating press. “Nordhavn have also learned a great deal on the subtle differences that the European market brings and one of the great things about this company and our boats is the ability to customize and specify a boat to your individual needs.” Case in point involves one of Philip’s favorite projects of his Nordhavn tenure. The buyer of a Nordhavn 55 came to him requesting a complete redesign of the forward cabin. Working with the project management and design teams, the thoroughly thought out modification has wound up being a standard option on the 55 model. “As a salesman, it’s my role to help push such things through and look at the impact of doing such changes,” he said.
The market has gained intensity dramatically in the past three months. Evidence of a strengthening global economy? Perhaps. But according to Philip, it’s a result of buyers’ confidence in the brand - both while at sea and during the build process. “Nordhavn continues to expand and lead the field, and European owned boats are at the forefront of this. People around here recognize that,” says Phil.
He then adds: “Now when people stare at our boats open mouthed, they say, ‘Ahh, that’s a Nordhavn!’”
Philip can be reached in the Nordhavn Europe Ltd sales office at +44 (0) 23 8045 6342 or by email at email@example.com.
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