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"Long-Range Boats for Longtime Boaters"
John Field's specialty is making savvy boaters' dreams come true
By Leslee Jaquette


August 2002 Sea

Fred and Emily "Pinkie" Stoltz recently purchased their second Fleming yacht from John Field, manager of Chuck Hovey Yachts LLC's Seattle office. Ordinarily, if a couple upgraded from a Fleming 53 to a brand-new tricked-out Fleming 55, the news would not be particularly earthshaking. However, this Port Angeles, Washington couple's combined ages amass a total of 175 years.

With a century of boating experience between them - including five trips to Alaska - Fred (age 91) and Pinkie (84) Stoltx returned to Field for the same reasons many Northwesterners work with Chuck Hovey Yachts and consider purchasing Flemings.

"We like John because he listens - and he is experienced and knowledgeable," Fred Stoltz explained. "We bought another Fleming because we like the walk-around decks and the performance - and we wanted the latest electronics.

Does the couple like their new boat? "Over all, it's pretty swell!" Fred Stultz said.

In It For The Long Run

Beyond serving as the sole Fleming dealer in the Northwest, the Chuck Hovey Yachts Seattle office offers a full range of quality brokerage yachts - including Grand Banks, Ocean Alexander, Hatteras and Sea Ray models. Currently, Chuck Hovey Yachts Seattle maintains a brokerage inventory of around 50 yachts ranging from 31 to 107 feet.

During his long career in the marine industry, Field worked at two other companies with the founder of Chuck Hovey Yachts, Chuck Hovey. In 1989, when living in Seattle and working as a subdealer for Chuck Hovey Yachts, Field sold three new John field Fleming yachts. Shortly after tliat, Field retired from the marine industry.

However, when Hovey wanted to open a Northwest office in 1998, he Iured Field (who is now 72) back into the boat business. Field acknowledged that he believes so firmly in Fleming and Chuck Hovey Yachts, Fleming yachts are the only new boats he chooses to sell. To date, Field has sold 10 Fleming yachts, which start at around $1.3 million.

Field explained his commitment to Fleming yachts in terms of his relationship to designer Tony Fleming and the philosophy behind the design and construction of these cruising yachts. Tony Fleming was closely involved in the development of Grand Banks motoryachts, and he started constructing his first Fleming yachts in 1985, at the Tung Hwa yard in Taiwan.

"I believe in the builder and the boat," Field said, while standing on the deck of a new Fleming 55 on display at Chandler's Cove. "I believe in the integrity of the company and the support it offers in after-sales service. We also meet really neat people who buy these yachts."

The 55-footer and the new Fleming 75, first shipped to California last year, are what Field describes as "serious coastal cruisers." He noted that the Fleming yachts' engineering and construction make them ideal for long-distance cruising.

"They offer the coastal cruiser the kind of comfort and seawortliiness necessary to handle serious conditions," Field said. Flemings feature a semi-displacement hull with a moderate deadrise and slope to the hull that is optimized for speeds up to around 16 knots. The yachts are known tor their practical layout, including walk-around decks and Aquadrive anti-vibration systems. Although the house is narrower, due to walk-around decks that keep the weight inboard of the chines, "the tradeoff is seakindliness," Field said.

Having Fun

With a background as a sailboat racer, marine insurer and broker since 1959, Field said he gets the most fun out of selling these new boats.

"It's not an impulse buy," Field explained. "In fact, it could taike months from the beginning of the process to delivery. It's a very involved process and, in the end, I get vicarious enjoyment out of every boat sold." Field said that the new boat-buying process is particularly satisfying, due to the fact that it requires more after-sale service and client involvement. In contrast, brokerage dealings require shorter-term relationships.

He noted that the process includes helping the customer with many details. For example, once the yacht arrives, Field enjoys his involvement in managing the unloading, assembly and coordination of the accessories. Another important part of the process, Field said, is referring owners to a full range of excellent, tried-and-true installers. "We have a list of some of the best specialists, woodworkers, electricians and machinists in the Northwest. We can help the customer outline options and recommend the perfect craftsman for the job."

Over the years, Field and Chuck Hovey Yachts have developed many contacts. "We have a broad, deep understanding of who does the best job and who can be trusted," Field said.

What To Look For In A Broker

After decades of yacht brokerage experience, Field described some of the key characteristics to look for in a broker. To begin with, it's wise to ask around about (lie broker's reputation.

Check to make sure that the broker is affiliated with a credible business. Does he ascribe to a code of ethics - and does he belong to industry associations?

Also, ask about the broker's experience. Does the broker "know" boats? How many years has he or she been in the business? Just as Field has developed a strong installer/specialist referral list, can the broker help with the vast array of details involved in any boat purchase?

Basic to the boater-broker relationship is a sense of trust. Field explained that it is essential that the customer perceive the broker as his or her advocate and marketer. One current trend is for the buyer to use a "selling" broker and the seller to use a "listing" broker. Field described this more specific relationship as a "healthy" trend that allows each party to have its own advocate.

"We brokers don't pass judgment on the condition of a boat, That is what the survey is for," Field said. "But we do look for structural deficiencies, and it is our job to apprise the customer."

Finally, Field mused on what he considers to be the key ingredient when selecting a broker. "Is he empatlietic?" Field asked. "A broker must listen and be empathetic to hear what buyers want."

 

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