The superyacht industry may be small to some, but it is filled with a range of experts and professionals from around the world. In this series, we shine a light on some of the specialists working within the different segments of the industry to learn more about what they do for the sector. As the new CEO of UAE based shipyard Gulf Craft, Gregory Yeakle brings years of industry experience with him. Having successfully lead companies such as Informix, Ivensys and Alexander Proudfoot Company, Yeakle has developed a new three-point strategy to strengthen and grow all of Gulf Craft’s brands. SuperYacht Times takes a moment to chat with Yeakle to learn more about his vision for the shipyard and plans for the future.Photo: Gulf Craft 1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your recent appointment as CEO of Gulf Craft?
I've been a life-long boater and professionally my career has been in information technology, industrial consultancy and process automation, focusing mostly on the oil and gas industry around the world. I was consulting with Gulf Craft for over a year on matters related to strategic decisions and general management approaches. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to step in as CEO, which I accepted with enthusiasm in April this year.
2) Since being appointed CEO at Gulf Craft, you state that the yard has witnessed double-digit growth. In your opinion, how have you managed to achieve such stellar results?
We have been achieving double-digit growth in each of the brands since we made a structural change in sales and marketing. This has been achieved by executing the first part of our strategy, which was to delineate each of the brands into vectors of growth of their own right, with direct lines of accountability and resources. This has allowed our people to become very focused on each of the brands. The people that are in charge of Majesty Yachts are very focused on marketing and selling Majesty Yachts. Likewise, those who are responsible for Nomad Yachts, our adventure brand, have their focus and resources channelled to it. The new system works all the way down through to the five brands that make up the Gulf Craft group. This is what has made the difference. While we are adding new people and improving our systems, methods and procedures, it has mostly been an improvement of focus and delineation of responsibilities by brand that led to these results. Photo: Aurélien Herman / SuperYacht Times3) You recently announced plans for a new three-point strategy to strengthen the business, which includes managing each brand as a separate unit and refreshing the brands' images and product line. How do you aim to achieve this while remaining true to each brand’s individual DNA?
I think executing the strategy actually helps us more to respect each brand's DNA. Whereas, pulling them all together dilutes and blurs each brand's specificity. So, I believe it is a great asset and the fact that the second part of the strategy, which is about increasing our focus on systems, methods, procedures of quality, has freed up resources that allow us to bring out new boats at an accelerated pace. The product refreshment rate is being improved allowing us to further evolve the specific design language and branding of each of the major divisions inside the group. In short, the structure is designed to reinforce the differences between the brands and highlight what really makes them special. Photo: Gulf Craft4) Gulf Craft is also set to structure itself as a learning organisation - can you explain what this means to you and how the company’s employees will benefit from this change?
What a learning organisation means to me is that employees in Gulf Craft at all levels are continually improving their skill sets, and expanding their knowledge base throughout the entire organization. The objective that I seek to achieve with that is to attract and retain the best talent available in the industry. Top performers like to be with other top performers and just like any sports team, it is all about continuous training, working on mental and physical fitness to ensure we can not only play in the world cup but that we can win. Photo: Gulf Craft5) Gulf Craft is also working on its largest superyacht to date - the Majesty 175. What makes her unique to the other Majesty superyachts?
First of all, we are extremely proud of her. She is going to be the largest GRP superyacht in the world at over 500 GT. She is a great sense of pride to the organization and we are rewriting the industry rules with her construction and new innovative solutions with regards to her technology and use of composites. The Majesty 175 is very much a showcase of technology, representing levels of innovation that Gulf Craft is able to deliver to the market. Photo: Gulf CraftLastly, how do you foresee Gulf Craft evolving over the next five years?
I believe we will continue to grow and gain momentum and achieve a more balanced global recognition for our quality and excellence in our chosen markets. This week I have been going through a lot of our future models and I am personally very excited about what the future holds for all of the Gulf Craft brands in the next five years.
SuperYacht Times - The State of Yachting 2019
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