Entrepreneur in Yachting: Founder of Gym Marine Edward Thomas

Written by Georgia Tindale

SuperYacht Times recently sat down with Founder and Director, Edward Thomas, to discuss his Gym Marine Yachts & Interiors business and why people should include it on their superyacht.

Give us the elevator pitch: What does Gym Marine Yachts and Interiors do?
Gym Marine is a specialist retailer and designer of wellness spaces. We design and sell equipment ranging from gym equipment to spa equipment, to well-being equipment such as yoga and Pilates kits. Our origins are in yachting, however, a vast percentage of our work is also on land within the hospitality and residential industries. Edward Thomas - GymMarine What makes Gym Marine Yachts and Interiors different? 
We stand out because we are totally independent experts. We work incredibly hard to craft the equipment and designs around the customers to ensure that these are tailored to them and come from an unbiased standpoint in terms of brand and selection. The fitness market is full of the craziest gadgets and fads, but our value proposition is based around crafting extremely useful and sensible spaces that will stand the test of time. All of our customers, no matter what business they’re in, appreciate the superyacht level of service we provide. GymMarine Artis LineTell us your entrepreneur story
When I left school, I went and worked as yacht crew for both motor and sailing yachts and finished up as a chief officer. During that time, I found that the service offering for gyms was really light. Between 2010-2013, wellness and health were becoming massive global phenomena and more charter guests and owners were concerned about how they would maintain their wellness regimes on board. 

You might have a sports star coming on who wanted a treadmill for the trip, and when we got it on board, it wouldn’t be right, or they would barely use it, and then we wouldn’t be sure what to do with it at the end of the charter. Addressing these issues prompted me to start the business in 2014, and we now offer equipment rentals for charter which are phenomenally successful. On a personal level, starting the business was also about wanting a change in lifestyle from being crew, whilst still being able to travel to all the places I want to. GymMarine Artis LineIs yachting slow to innovate?
Not at all. In the industry, we are blessed with clients who are exceptionally wealthy and are willing to try new things, so we have the opportunity to experiment with new technologies, materials and working methods long before the mainstream marketplace. 

On the flip side, one of the biggest challenges for us is trying not to look costly. People see yachting and assume we must be really expensive, but we’re not. We don’t charge anything for our consulting service. Our PR firm uses this line which they think is very funny: “The world’s leading gym designer doesn’t charge for his services.” The challenge is innovating and coming up with something that you can’t get anywhere else, without it appearing to be ludicrously expensive. GymMarine Artis LineLots of entrepreneurs fail. Why didn’t you? 
We've got a great niche and have stayed true to our roots. One of my biggest inspirations in business is James Watt, founder of the beer brand BrewDog. He always talks about thinking small and not getting distracted by the big picture. When businesses stop thinking about their value proposition and become fixated on graphs, finance, scaling and HR, they can lose sight of what matters. 

When we first started the business, it was just me walking up and down the docks trying to deliver the amazing service I’d learned about as yacht crew, and that’s what has got us where we are today: we will have a turnover of more than two million euros this year.GymMarine Artis LineHow has the pandemic affected businesses globally?  
This traumatic economic incident has prompted a complete reset in thinking, with new opportunities and markets emerging. People are thinking more about health and well-being, virtual work and the green economy. We’ve had a chance to step back and see the positive impact we can have on the world by slowing down and becoming more localised. 

Through Gym Marine’s Green Wings Challenge, we have offset three and a half million kilometres of yachting industry air travel from 2019. Plus, with more meetings being conducted virtually in the industry, this brings down travel costs which can be a significant barrier to entry for startups. GymMarine Artis LineFinally, your top tips for budding entrepreneurs
My main tip is that in yachting it pays to be a good bloke – or the female equivalent! Think with a bit of empathy, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand the pressures they are under. Yachting is very often B2B2C, and the person you’re speaking to might be getting pressures from the owner. We always ensure that we are acting in the way we’d like to be treated as a business and that goes a long way in maintaining our reputation as a great company to deal with. Always stay true to yourself and the reasons why you started the business in the first place. 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. To receive all future issues straight to your door, subscribe to the newspaper here.

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