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June 1, 2017

Nordhavn sales reps go great distances, too

It’s a celebrated fact that Nordhavns go immense distances. What’s perhaps less recognized are the great lengths our brokers take to help a buyer get into their perfect boat.

In recent weeks, Nordhavn sales representatives have traveled to Indonesia, Newfoundland, England and Australia to ensure their customers were properly cared for – to help see that the deal got sealed, or not sealed as the case may be.

In late March, Nordhavn’s Northwest sales manager, Don Kohlmann, flew to Hamble, England, with his Canadian client. As it turned out, the Nordhavn 47 that had been listed by Nordhavn’s European office wound up being the ideal boat for Kohlmann’s client, who’d been on the hunt for an N47, and counted exploring Europe as one of his cruising must-dos. 

Despite the deal being in-house and having the support of the Nordhavn Europe crew, Kohlmann insisted on flying to the UK with his customer to oversee the inspection. “If I have a client and there is a survey involved, I absolutely want to be there,” said Kohlmann. “No matter what.”

It’s a disservice to the client for a broker to not personally attend a seatrial and survey, he said. “You need to be able to talk to a buyer about any issues that crop up.” Kohlmann, who has been in the marine business going on four decades says he’s learned what to look for during an inspection. “Some surveyors are better than others. If I need to do certain tests myself, I will.”

Still, it’s a gamble to go the distance that most Nordhavn brokers will. Since Nordhavn salesmen are commission-based only, they are even more susceptible to the stakes. There’s always the chance that after all the time and money spent and the effort put in to making a deal work, it just doesn’t come together. Last month, Kohlmann spent 2 ½ weeks in Thailand to help a client finalize a deal on a brokerage Nordhavn there. The client and surveyor were unable to mesh schedules so Kohlmann attended the haul-out and seatrial on his customer’s behalf. Plus, being an international boat, there were lots of clearing procedures and formalities to be addressed.

With the listing brokers in England, the client on the U.S. west coast and Kohlmann attending the survey in Thailand, communication across three radically different time zones had him working practically around the clock. And in the end, the deal wound up not working out. “It was frustrating and unfortunate that it fell through, but it ended up not being in my clients’ best interest,” said Kohlmann, who is still hoping to get his customers in the boat that is perfect for them.

James Leishman, a broker in Nordhavn’s Southwest office agrees: “Traveling long distances for your customer is a big risk, but I try to be present at every one of my deals.” It’s important – not only to help the process along, but to build the relationship with a client, he says. “Your client has to trust that they are your number one priority.”

Leishman recently took a 12-hour flight from southern California to Newfoundland to close a Nordhavn 46 deal. A 13-year veteran broker with the company, Leishman brings a certain amount of experience to the table, but he insists the difference between having a Nordhavn broker by your side, versus a broker from an outside firm, is that you have a whole team behind you. “It’s not just me [you’re getting],” he says. “I’ve got the support of a whole company to help get a boat sold.

“I might not know the answer to every question, but I can pick up the phone and ask the Nordhavn engineers to pull up the drawings for the exact boat we’re on. No other broker can provide that level of service.”

Fortunately for Leishman, the Newfoundland deal was a success. But there is no rest for the weary. Just a few days after returning to California, Leishman flew up to Anacortes, WA for the survey and seatrial of an N76 listed with an outside brokerage house. Following that, he hopped on a plane bound for Australia to help another client list his Nordhavn 76, which begged the question: Is it really that necessary to fly across an ocean simply to list a boat?

Yes, insists Leishman. “You can’t list a boat properly unless you’ve been on it, seen it in person,” he said. “You really have to spend a day on the boat to familiarize yourself, know what changes or upgrades have been made. 

“To slap a listing online without seeing it is a mistake. A seller would do himself an injustice to hire a broker who won’t come see a boat. You really cannot speak knowledgeably and represent the boat properly.”

Sometimes a boat for sale in a remote place needs to better its chances of selling – by not being in such a remote place. Nordhavn Southwest salesman Devin Zwick knew his client’s Nordhavn 55 was not going to get a lot of foot traffic berthed at its current location in St. Lucia, Dutch Antilles. Zwick, who also is a licensed captain and had previously delivered this Nordhavn 55 from Panama City to Brazil, was quick to assist with the current owner’s plan to relocate the boat to Cabo San Lucas where it will be more accessible to potential buyers.

I think it is important for a broker to know first and foremost how the boats behave in their true environment,” said Zwick, who recently flew to Florida from southern California to complete an N55 deal. “Walking through a boat at the dock is different from really knowing the boat, far different from  having been offshore and making full use of a Nordhavn’s 3,000+ mile range.”

Which leads right into another key benefit of a Nordhavn broker, and that is the training proviso. All brokers are required to familiarize and provide a level of initial training on every Nordhavn purchase – new or used. “I’ve heard comments about other brokers handing over the keys and that being the sum total of their action,” acknowledges Kohlmann. “A big part of being a Nordhavn broker is being there for orientation and support. It’s what a good broker does. Most Nordhavn brokers have logged hundreds, if not thousands of miles on our vessels. With the depth of our knowledge, it’s an advantage we have.”

While it might seem logical to have a local broker take responsibility for the sale of your boat, if it’s a Nordhavn, it often doesn’t make the most sense. Because Nordhavn brokers like the Nordhavns they represent will go the distance.

Nordhavn fans can follow along with Zwick on the delivery of N55 Rainbow Chaser as he takes her from St. Lucia, through the Panama Canal, bound for Cabo San Lucas. The estimated month-long journey will commence next week and nordhavn.com will be tracking Zwick’s journey. He’ll be posting updates via blog and video on the crew’s progress.

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