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Nordhavn explores new territory

April 30, 2007

Since the first Nordhavn 46 was produced almost 20 years ago, the number of boats P.A.E. manufactures each year has grown to about 50, and increases annually. Coupled with the garden variety warranty issues each new boat experiences in its first year of operation, it’s no wonder the Commissioning and Service arm of the company was at its limits. So this month, P.A.E. decided to restructure the department by promoting Russell Barber to Director of Commissioning for Nordhavn Worldwide and create a new warranty department to be headed by newcomer Tommy Haner.

Formerly the head of Commissioning for the Dana Point office, Barber’s role was to ensure smooth and proper commissioning on new boats at that office as well as oversee warranty work. But with the surge of new construction over the past few years plus the addition of new sales offices both domestic and globally, Barber’s attention was frequently required to quell issues going on elsewhere – specifically in the thriving Florida and U.K. commissioning locations.

“We found that as we grew, we were lacking a formal organizational structure that is necessary with a larger company,” said P.A.E. President Dan Streech, explaining the theory behind Barber’s promotion. “Not only did (Southeast Commissioning Manager) John Hoffman and (Europe Commissioning Manager) Russell Payne not have anyone to consistently report to, they were lacking adequate support. And thus, the standards of quality at these – and all the locations – were inconsistent. Russell will bring uniformity to the commissioning process.”

With a central management system in place, Barber can schedule P.A.E. techs to commission at remote locations or for warranty work when a boat arrives, for instance, to the Australia or Portsmouth, Rhode Island, offices, lending a hand of expertise to the shipyards where work is being performed. (NOTE: The Northeast, Northwest and Australasia locations do not employ formal in-house commissioning departments.)

Ultimately, commissioning across the board will be greatly improved, said Streech. By far the busiest of the company’s six sites, Dana Point has enjoyed a consistent near-perfect record of happy and satisfied owners. “We can thank Russell for that and it is our intention to spread that high standard to the other locations.”

In the wake of Barber’s more global responsibilities, Sarah Copper, Dana Point Commissioning Administrator and Barber’s right-hand woman, will also step up her role to include handling duties on a company-wide level. While getting the rest of the offices up to speed, the duo intends to make sure commissioning in the southwest doesn’t miss a beat with the staffing shuffle.

Putting the Service in Customer Service Commissioning isn’t the only area of the company feeling the strain of the production swell. To deal with the increase in warranty claims on boats – an upswing that naturally occurs as more boats are manufactured – the project management team has been forced to dedicate much of their time attending to warranty service. “Project managers should be spending their time on building new boats, not warranty items,” said Streech. As such, both areas suffered.

To alleviate this, Haner was brought in as Customer Service Manager, a role that will require him to oversee warranty problems and institute a program of “repeatable and reliable” methods by taking a proactive approach to attacking issues. Haner comes to P.A.E. with a 15-year background as service manager at a large automotive group where he coordinated outside vendors, managed technicians and performed warranty administration – experience that will be key in dealing with Nordhavn warranty disputes.

“Primarily I will be dealing with the issues that arise after the delivery of the vessel to the owner, insuring that if they do have an issue that requires repairs, or questions on operation, maintenance, etc., they are taken care of in a fair and timely manner,” Haner said. “This will also free up the project managers to deal with the all the issues that come up on the current boats they are working on.”

As more and more Nordhavns embark on long-range cruises that take them all over the world, P.A.E. is forced to rely on far-off shipyards to effect repairs. Haner will assume the responsibility of protecting the company and its suppliers by directly going to battle with parts manufacturers so project managers and boat owners/captains don’t have to. “It is in our best interest to see that this work gets done properly,” said Haner. “Ultimately, it is P.A.E.’s reputation that is at stake.”

With the new focus on commissioning and warranty, not only will P.A.E.’s reputation for dependable service improve, the company’s costs due to less waste and more warranty recovery will lessen. And feedback to the factories will help eliminate future issues from the onset. “We welcome advice on how we can improve South Coast’s boats,” said Tsai Wan Sheu, owner of South Coast Marine which manufactures the Nordhavn 40/II, 43, 47, 55, 86 and new 75 EYF. Wan Sheu says he will rely on the input of Barber and Haner to assist with quality control.

P.A.E.’s other partner factory, Ta Shing, manufacturer of the Nordhavn 57, 62, 64/68, 72/76 and forthcoming 56 Motorsailer, says implementing the new service structure will prompt his plant’s goal of increased production efficiency and quality. “As a partner of P.A.E.’s for over 30 years, Ta Shing has synchronized with the upward market movement,” said Ta Shing president Tim Juan. “We will continue to hire talented people to keep up with the needs of Nordhavn and provide outstanding support as our market grows.”

The timing of Barber’s promotion and the new warranty and service policies are not coincidental, says P.A.E.’s Streech. Rather, they are vital to the company’s target of further expansion. “We plan on doubling our sales over the next five years.”



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