A conversation with Bob Saxon, VP of Yacht Management, Charter and Crew Placement at MarineMax
Bob Saxon was a pioneer in yacht management, crew management, yacht-build projects and luxury yacht charter. He is regarded by many as the patriarch of yacht management and charter, bringing a highly professional and rigorous approach to the effective management and operation megayachts around the world. He was formerly president of Camper & Nicholson’s USA, a position he held from 2002-2008, after selling his own business, Bob Saxon Associates, which he owned and operated for 15 years, to Camper & Nicholsons. Earlier in his career, Bob was president of the Sacks Group and vice president of Whittemore & Williams, the forerunner and pioneer of yacht management services.
What is unique about your company’s service or product?
In the short time I’ve been here, what I’ve come to discover about MarineMax is the incredible, enthusiasm, esprit de corps and energy of this company from top to bottom with one objective in mind: happy customers with pleasure-filled, water-borne experiences.
What experiences or life lessons stand out the most to you over your professional journey to your current position?
Interestingly enough, directly out of college, my high school teaching and baseball coaching experiences taught me valuable lessons during my formative years that I have been able to carry over into the management of sales teams and companies. At the end of the day, I consider myself a teacher and a coach. I was also very fortunate to fall into the yachting business and learn from the individual who founded the very first yacht management business, the forerunner of what we know today as yacht management and charter services. It was an excellent business model from which I learned how to work with interesting folks who had the wherewithal to own a yacht and revel in the pleasures of boating.
What sets your business model apart from the competition?
MarineMax makes it very easy for the client to dip his/her toe in the yachting scene, unlike at times the obstacles that one might be confronted with when working with the more traditional brokerage model and systems. MarineMax knows how to capture the mind’s eye and deliver the dream for their customers.
What do you want our readers to know about your company’s approach to doing business?
If the customer has had less than 100 percent satisfaction from previous yachting experiences, they can expect to leave all of that behind when dealing with MarineMax agents, sales or charter brokers.
How does your company relate to the passion of yachting enthusiasts?
If the “passion” for the water-borne experience has not been discovered by the client heretofore, I can guarantee the professionals at MarineMax will evoke it. If the client already has a sense of “passion” for boating, it will be enhanced to the “nth” degree in associating with the company.
What is your personal philosophy on good customer service?
Listen carefully and discover the customer’s wants, needs and desires. Respond with a game plan that addresses those matters effectively, fairly and squarely. I’ve been fortunate to have countless “customers for life” based on that seemingly simple but cunningly complex algorithm.
How do you plan to sustain or grow from your current success?
MarineMax is the largest boating retailer in the US. They sell thousands of boats and yachts annually. I am here to help grow the company into the large yacht arena and provide service sectors such as charter, charter management, crew placement and yacht management which are services necessary and endemic to the big yacht scene.
What do you see as your greatest business (or personal) accomplishment to date?
Wonderful family, children and grandchildren are by far my greatest accomplishment! However, from a business perspective, I was able to grow Bob Saxon Associates into then the largest management and charter company in the world before I sold it to Camper & Nicholsons. I am particularly pleased as founding president of the International Superyacht Society (ISS) to have been recently awarded the ISS “Lifetime Achievement Award” in their recognition of my body of work dedicated to the betterment of the yachting industry.
What has been your greatest business (or personal) challenge to date, and how did you overcome it?
I fell into the yachting industry with little background in boating and, in spite of that perceived shortcoming, I was able to rise through the ranks and bask in the rarefied atmosphere of megayachting with myriad fantastic clients, achievements and accomplishments during my 30-plus years. However, your readers may be interested to know that I feel my greatest business and personal challenges are ahead of me. If we don’t believe that the best is yet to come, we might as well hang up our spikes and leave the playing field.
Outside of the yachting industry, what are your other passions in life?
I have collective passions for photography, good verse, art, physical fitness, outdoor live music venues, and good old “rock & roll!”
ABOUT POWER PLAYERS
Achieving sustained success in the yachting industry is a great accomplishment. These entrepreneurs and executives and the companies they represent have thrived in the face of great challenges. The ways they approach their businesses and their reflections on customers, innovation and service should inspire anyone seeking to be the best of the best in a highly competitive environment.