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Yachting: Article

Expanding the Category of Yachting

A man on a mission: Jamie Edmiston of Edmiston & Company LLC

Stop most people in the street and they wouldn't immediately associate Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, with yachts or charters...but there is one man - one company, rather - currently on a mission to change all that.

The man is Jamie Edmiston, and the company is Edmiston & Company of London, Monte Carlo. . .and now Los Angeles. Edmiston, scion of Nick Edmiston, one of the "grand old men" of yachting - Edmiston pere is chairman of the company, Jamie runs the U.S. operation - has a vision, a drive, and a passion that is rarely seen outside of Madison Avenue, and never seen before in the world of yachting, let alone pulsing in the heart of Beverly Hills.

 

Why Beverly Hills? The question hardly needs asking. The drive to the Edmiston office, nestled on South Rodeo Drive, takes you past Wilshire Boulevard, home to Saks, Bvlgari, Tiffany & Co., and Mikimoto. Rodeo Drive itself, if you turn right out of Edmiston's sleek and well-appointed offices, is home to the alphabet of good taste and luxury - from Armani, Bally, Cartier, Chanel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, and Giorgio, to Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Valentino.

 

The stretch of shops and boutiques may be only three blocks long, but those three short blocks constitute the most famous shopping district in America, and probably the most expensive three blocks of shops in the world. And the newest Edmiston office, accordingly, is perfectly placed for their thrust into the North American marketplace.

The Future of Yachting...Is Red
Jamie Edmiston aims to do for yachts and yachting what Victor Kyam did for the electric razor and Wordsworth did for daffodils - put them on the map. Just as he wants to put Rodeo Drive on the map, the same map that already contains destinations like Antibes, Cannes, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and Monaco. He doesn't want to "popularize" yachting as such (chartering a yacht is not for the economically faint of heart), but he does want to expand what he calls the "category" of yachting. In other words, he wants a broader range of wealthy individuals to realize that one of the things that money can buy is life on board a yacht. Temporarily - or even permanently.

 

I ask him whether this isn't a slightly hazardous time, given the economic cycle, to be striking out after wealth and attempting to channel it in any direction, let alone a completely new one.

"Fortunately," replies Edmiston, "economic cycles don't affect people quite so much once they achieve a certain level of financial stability."

So I ask, what does he mean by "expanding the category" of yachting? And what are Edmiston's plans for achieving this strategic goal?

By way of an answer, Edmiston first takes me back a bit over the history of the company, and indeed his own personal history.

"When my father founded Edmiston in 1996," he says, "I wasn't ever planning to become involved in the business since I was working on other projects." But when they joined forces in 2001, he continues, it was because "I realized that Edmiston, because it was (at the time) small and agile, had extraordinary potential.

"We are currently one of the fastest-growing brokerages in the world," he says. "In terms of critical mass we are not the biggest," he adds without false modesty, "but I believe the future looks very positive."

Indeed, with the exception of Edmiston, all of the big yachting companies have been established for at least 25 years, whereas Edmiston was founded 7 years ago. That doesn't daunt Edmiston though. On the contrary, it is precisely Edmiston's newness that is allowing it to move so fast, he says.

"A few years ago," he explains, "no one really thought of brokerages in terms of branding." He gestures to the characteristic red Edmiston colors that are all around us in the office: on every brochure, business card, promotional cap, and mailing piece. "Edmiston didn't even have a color. Now it does."

The choice of color is not accidental. Red has always been the color of happiness and prosperity - and also of a certain boldness. It is also a color guaranteed to attract. And that is precisely Jamie's goal: to attract. There are a great many wealthy and high-net-worth individuals and companies already involved in yachting, he affirms. But there are also a lot of wealthy individuals not yet conscious of their options, and therein lies Edmiston's opportunity: "Our mission is to make categories of wealthy individuals, who are not yet clients, realize that they could be," he says.

To feel that they should be, I can't help thinking. But Edmiston's style is to entice, not to exhort. By defining what Edmiston & Company LLC stands for, he insists, we can help new clients gravitate toward what the company offers. By aligning Edmiston with high-profile goods, services, and partners - with Range Rover (one of Edmiston's key strategic partners), for example - we are striving to position the company in an unmistakable sweet spot: "Traveling in style is much the same," he says, "whether on sea or on land."

 

Unparalleled Service
But quality cannot be established only by association. So Edmiston also ensures that the company delivers concrete, tangible, high-value services that help contradistinguish it from other brokerages.

"Managing a large yacht encompasses many disciplines and - like any other multimillion dollar investment - should be professionally managed," Edmiston observes. "In other words, we will help figure out how the boat's actually going to fit with your lifestyle - everything from deciding how much of the year you intend to stay aboard to what happens to the boat when you're elsewhere."

"While many owners typically spend four to eight weeks of the year on their yachts," he says, "they keep a crew on board all year round. The typical dozen-strong crew is going to keep the yacht stocked and functioning and is a significant part of the annual running costs of the yacht, which can easily amount to well over $2 million."

Most owners opt to charter out their crewed yachts for those parts of the year when they're not using them themselves. This can be very helpful, Edmiston observes, since a 150ft megayacht can earn $180,000 per week, either from corporate entertaining, try-before-you-buy prospective megayacht owners, or simply holiday makers with an eye for a more exclusive option.

As an independent company, Edmiston's recommendations, he explains, "are driven from an honest belief in what we say."

Edmiston's charter listings at any time represent a comprehensive overview of what's available, under construction, or for sale. In their literature, he adds, the company includes "the kinds of inside tips normally available only to other yacht brokers."

Entrepreneur and Innovator
This sort of innovation is a further indication of Edmiston & Company's flair for attracting new people to yacht charters and ownership. Combine it with a network of top-level contacts and the result is a company that has sold some of the most high-profile yachts in the world. (Edmiston is responsible for the two largest brokerage deals ever - both yachts over 100 meters, both sales completed in record time.)

 

The company also has a broad spectrum of experience, Edmiston continues, in new construction. The recent yachting boom has meant that getting the best designers, engineers, and shipyards has become - as much as anything else - about what he calls "high common denominator teamwork."

I ask him to explain what he means by this. "We have strong contacts with leading naval architects and designers throughout the world," he notes. "And we've also forged liaisons with exciting new, emerging talents."

It's a recurring theme of a conversation, a mantra almost. Edmiston & Company can achieve the perfect double whammy. The company is experienced enough to have all the contacts, confidence, and reliability of an established name. It is also young enough to be extremely dynamic, enthusiastic, and above all, entrepreneurial.

Edmiston & Company has a stellar team made up of a mixture of young, ambitious, intelligent individuals, as well as experienced personnel with many years in the business. "And we have a staff that takes care of every detail," he says, "both for highly experienced yacht owners and for those for whom ownership and charter is a new and exciting venture."

Whether in London, Monaco, or Los Angeles, Edmiston has people who can handle all the complexities of yacht ownership "from contracts, surveys, sea trials, engineering considerations, new operational and safety regulations, and finance options," says Edmiston; "let alone the sheer subjectivity of buying what is effectively a new multimillion dollar 'home'."

Charters and Common Sense - a Winning Combination
Since charters represent a high percentage of Edmiston's business, we return to the subject of chartering (rather than owning) the various classic motoryachts and sailing yachts that are the company's bread and butter.

"Edmiston helps clients select and book the ideal yacht," he says, "taking care of every last detail from giving them a sense of the creativity of the chef and the comfort and sophistication of the interiors, to the reliability of the captain."

I wondered how much choice there is in terms of destination. "We can book and arrange a yacht in almost every corner of the globe," he assures me, "from the Cote d'Azur in the summer to Polynesia in the winter."

"Edmiston's charter brokers speak several languages and have a detailed knowledge of all the yachts and all the destinations," Edmiston continues. "We're never afraid to voice an opinion, and have often found common sense to be a vastly underrated asset, even when dealing with complex issues," he adds.

"Personality, thoughtfulness, and service are what this company was founded upon," Edmiston concludes, "and as we have developed over the past few years, this belief and philosophy has been strengthened."

It is this approach that is winning Edmiston new clients, in new categories, from all over the world - leaving your only really agonizing decision to be choosing between Antigua and St. Martin for your destination. Or for your personal steward to bring you Krug or Veuve Clicquot while on board your 50-meter motoryacht.

This dynamic company can help you with everything. But the really fun choices, it seems, Edmiston's clients are left to make for themselves.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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