Boats for Longtime Boaters"
John Field's specialty is making savvy boaters' dreams come
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
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.
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."