It’s hard to believe that Barbara Lippert grew up in Ohio amongst the “steel and coal” towns that line the Ohio River, not knowing much about – or doing much of – recreational boating. One look at her impressive marine-related resume and you’d assume her roots surely lie in vessels that explored the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Yet it was actually a chance job opportunity that not only brought her to Washington state, but introduced her to the marine industry. She and two partners developed a pre-internet interactive boat-shopping video experience aimed at giving boat buyers access to an inventory of boats nationwide. While Barbara didn’t bring boating knowledge to the table, she did come armed with a load of sales and marketing experience.
As it turns out, the venture was just slightly ahead of its time and never took off the way Barbara and her team had hoped. But her stint in the marine industry was not over; in fact it was just beginning. She was tapped by Elliott Bay Yacht Lease and Brokerage, first to help sell boat-share memberships, later to broker private boats for commercial or personal use. She was at first reluctant to take the job - still skeptical about her own product knowledge, but the company offered to put her through intense training including a Sailing and Powerboating school, U.S. Power Squadrons, and various Coast Guard courses.
While at Elliot Bay, Barbara, now a full-fledged broker, decided to join the newly formed Northwest Yacht Brokers Association (NYBA). Active in the rights and practices of the yacht sales industry, Barbara went on to become the group’s second president and was instrumental in forming the now very successful Lake Union Boat Shows. She also sat on the board of the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA). Currently she is a member of the NYBA Board of Directors and co-chairs that organization’s Ethics Committee, a job she says she is most proud of.
Barbara spent nearly two decades at Elliot Bay, but eventually jumped to well-known yacht brokerage Oviatt Marine, in Seattle, where she spent a few years repping the likes of Ericson Yachts, J Boats and Princess Yachts until they closed their doors in 2008. At the same time, Barbara had heard Nordhavn’s northwest office had been looking for a new sales rep. “I knew about Nordhavn’s reputation and thought it would be a good fit for me,” said Barbara. Turns out, it was. Along with sales manager Don Kohlmann, Barbara has helped the Seattle-based office flourish. Actually, Barbara states that she is quite busy these days. “I do sense things are picking up in the market. There isn’t the prevalence of doom and gloom that there was a year or two ago.”
This is Barbara’s third year with Nordhavn and despite having joined the company at the outset of the downturn in the industry, she has enjoyed much success and – just as important – enjoys coming to work every day. “In an up market, you can make the most of any situation, so the fact that I have had such a positive experience at Nordhavn during a struggling economy says a lot,” said Barbara. Like any salesman worth their salt, Barbara loves getting to work and interacting with all different people, from clients to vendors. But it’s the support from the Nordhavn home team that Barbara feels makes the job a great one. “I am constantly knocked out by how responsive and giving everyone behind the front line is,” she said. “I really appreciate the work, effort and money the company spends on the product line.”
If you ask Barbara what she does in her downtime, the self-proclaimed sports nut admits to trying to squeeze in an occasional sail or round of 18 on the golf course, but readily admits, “There’s not much I do except work, but that’s OK. I like working!”
After three decades in the business, Barbara has the luxury of being able to offer two perspectives: first, as an experienced yacht broker able to share her vast boating knowledge with clients, but also as someone who can relate to those just starting out – customers who are virtually starting from scratch, just as she did. Like those who have helped her, Barbara’s objective is to help others achieve their boating goals. “My mantra has always been, ‘trust your broker.’ If you like them and believe that your broker is indeed working for your interests, then stick with them. Be loyal, trust them, and let them do their job. If they don’t perform, then move on. But be mindful, we [brokers] are genuinely trying to do the best job for you.”
Barbara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.