FLIBS 2022: Thom Conboy on Success of Heesen’s On-Spec Model

By George Bains

Shari Liu joined Heesen Yachts USA Director of Sales, Thom Conboy, onboard the 50m displacement yacht YN19650 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2022. Thom and Shari discussed the success of Heesen’s model to build semi-custom yachts on-speculation, while also looking ahead to the prestigious Dutch shipyard’s priorities in the US market.

Returning to a full-scale FLIBS, Heesen Yachts were this year located in the Superyacht Village, an area of the show that has grown to significant prominence.

“It’s good to be back,” shares Thom. “It’s the first time we have been back here at the Superyacht Village, so it is a new venue for us. We like it, we have all the builders and bigger boats here, and it seems to be growing and getting to being a better venue.

“The show is good, the first couple of days we have seen a lot of very qualified people.”

With Thom and Shari sitting onboard the majestic 50-metre displacement Project Aura, the discussion naturally came to Heesen’s impeccable superyacht range and successful on-speculation business model.

“Our business model over the last 20 years has been to build on-speculation,” Thom explains. “About 70% of our business model is speculation. We have 4 models at 50-metres, we have a 55-metre, 57-metre, and then once we go above 60 metres it is total custom.”

There are certainly significant advantages to prospective buyers when taking on a project that has begun on-speculation, particularly with the comfort of a  proven platform and reduced lead times.

“To build a 50-metre boat takes about 30 months. We see that people step into the project about a year out from delivery. The owner who purchased this boat, bought it in August 2021, and we delivered it in July 2022.

“You have a proven platform. We build the boat relatively so that you can accessorise it. It doesn’t come with the loose furniture or the art. The interior designer that we have on the project will design it all the way through, or you can bring your own interior designer.”

The guaranteed performance of a proven hull provides a base for owners to then imprint their own personality on the yacht, with no two Heesen yachts being the same. At a year out from delivery, there is still plenty of flexibility to customise the interiors, while the earlier an owner joins a project the great the potential for larger amendments.

Looking ahead, Thom shared a positive outlook for the future of yacht sales in the US market, where Heesen has a very advanced operation.

“The US has become far more important as a market now. We’ve spent a lot of energy and time here. We have a big setup here, we do all the after sales here. Fort Lauderdale is really the Headquarters of Heesen USA. It is a true satellite operation of the shipyard here.

“We’re obviously very optimistic with the Euro and Dollar the way they are. Having a boat has also proven to be a safe haven.

“We have a very good quality product, and usually if you have quality – it sells.”

"We have a very good quality product, and usually if you have quality – it sells."

Thom Conboy - Director of Sales, Heesen Yachts USA


"We have a very good quality product, and usually if you have quality – it sells."

Thom Conboy - Director of Sales, Heesen Yachts USA
By George Bains
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