Less is More: Lauderdale Marine Center's Unique Approach to Refit
Innovation does not always mean doing more. Sometimes, the answer to innovation in business lies in a ‘hands-off’ approach - with the right standards, facilities and processes in place for clients to thrive. This is exactly the case at Lauderdale Marine Center, the United States’ largest yacht repair facility servicing the world’s best-known superyachts with a unique ‘Marketplace Model’. We caught up with Doug West, President of LMC, to learn more about what makes the facility so appealing to such a vast fleet of superyachts - and, increasingly, world-leading shipyards.
Florida is the epicenter of a booming refit industry, catering not only to local US vessels but also larger transatlantic yachts visiting the popular yachting destinations of the Bahamas and Caribbean. Considered hurricane-safe by insurance companies due to its location on the New River, Lauderdale Marine Center ticks several boxes by merit of its location alone.
Unlike full-service refit yards, Lauderdale Marine Center effectively acts as a landlord to yachts and contractors on-site. This means LMC provides the space - some 60 acres to be precise - leaving clients free to manage their own projects.
The second aspect of this is that Lauderdale Marine Center does not offer its own in-house labour. Offering a list of over 300 approved contractors, yachts also have the option to bring their own contractors in provided they meet LMC’s proven standards of quality and legitimacy.
The benefits of this, Doug tells us, are threefold.
Scheduling. Each yacht to visit LMC has total control over how long it stays at the facility. ‘Full service yards will dictate the schedule and how much time you have out of the water,’ Doug tells us. Unlike LMC, most full-service yards operate on comparatively small real estate, so timely turnover onto the hard is critical.
Specifically, Doug adds, LMC’s largest competitive yard has capacity for 15 yachts out of the water. LMC, in comparison, has 100.
‘The way it works here is that boats can stay out as long as they want to stay out,’ Doug adds.
Pricing. As a result of the direct set-up, LMC does not impose any markups, head fees to contractors or additional fees for project management or insurance. Instead, boats at LMC deal directly with the contractor, meaning the yard can add competitive prices to its list of advantages.
‘If you look at other full service yards in the area, all the work done will go through them - whether that means in-house labour or hiring contractors. In most cases there’s a markup between 15 and 25%.’
Quality. The third advantage of LMC’s unique marketplace model is its quality control assurance. In order for clients to exercise total control over their own projects, LMC effectively vets all contractors on-site with a series of proven criteria.
These include requiring contractors to have the necessary insurance, warranty programme and documents to meet LMC’s standards. The yard also carries out a customer survey at the end of each yard period, asking clients to rate the quality of their contractors.
‘We stay in touch with the boat throughout their yard period and make sure they’re getting what they need,’ says Doug. ‘But we’re not project managing - that’s the big difference.’
With everything from dedicated crew workspace areas to gym and leisure facilities, it is not difficult to see why LMC is a firm favourite amongst captains and crew.
But recently the yard has attracted a different kind of visitor. LMC has been named aftercare service “yard of choice” by the biggest names in European shipbuilding.
Ferretti Group, Cheoy Lee, Azimut-Benetti, Princess, Horizon, Sanlorenzo and Majesty Yachts. These are just a few of the prominent builders who have chosen to undertake warranty work or commissioning at LMC. Global shipbuilders with a strong American client base are capitalising on LMC’s convenient location, expansive real estate and hands-off approach.
‘I think most clients and companies want warranty work to be done by the people who originally worked on the boat,’ Doug explains. ‘We also have a few builders interested in renting space here so they can exhibit their boats, so I see that building over the next few years.’
Works carried out at Lauderdale Marine Center can range from annual yard periods to full paint jobs and major upgrades.
With an adaptable approach and close attention to client feedback, LMC has successfully proven that sometimes, less is indeed more.
Watch this space.
"We stay in touch with the boat throughout their yard period and make sure they’re getting what they need. But we’re not project managing - that’s the big difference."