Based in the Turkish superyacht hotspot of Antalya, Sarp Yachts may have only opened their doors five years ago, but are already making a distinct mark on the industry. With the backing of two of the country’s largest companies behind it as well as one of the most comprehensive facilities in the region able to accommodate yachts of up to 70-metres in length, the future certainly looks bright. We talked to Shipyard Manager, Emre Şandan, who revealed a little more about the vision, strategy and philosophy behind the new kids on the block.
Tell us a little about the Sarp Yachts story.
Sarp Yachts was set up to breath new life into the Turkish superyacht industry with professionalism, contemporary management systems, financial stability and loyal client relations at its core. The partners of Sarp Yachts’ partner company, Eti and Sarp Logistic, are some of the largest corporations in the region - Eti is actually one of Turkey’s top 20 largest companies, whilst Sarp Logistic is one of the country's largest logistic fleets with a 2000-employee strong workforce. Together, these two corporations decided to invest in the custom superyacht industry after 70 years of leadership in their respective, successful fields.
Your inaugural vessel, the 46 metre La Passion, was delivered last year; what other projects are currently ongoing at the yard?
At the moment we are working on some refit projects and also talking to potential clients who would like to build their next yacht at Sarp Yachts.
Do you see there is a growing need for a yacht builder’s association within Turkey to help regulate operations and promote the region on the global stage?
I believe that this has to be one of the main priorities of superyacht builders, not only in Turkey, but in every region. I feel that some of the existing associations are not effectively used by the shipyards; they’re often only used for promoting their own areas and companies and not for improving their products or client relations - as the main focus should be. This makes the shipyards blind by feeding their egos and not listening to the client’s request about the actual situation, all of which has an affect on their [the shipyard’s] improvement.
I believe that if we really want to develop the superyacht industry we all need to set fair rules and standards for the superyacht builders in order to solve the unbalanced situations for both the owners and the builder.
What is your view on the use of well known yacht designers for young shipyards, and how do you find a balance to involve local designers as well?
There are clear advantages for young shipyards in involving a well know designer in their projects, but these shipyards need to be careful in resting all their expectations and hopes on the reputation of such a design studio. You cannot set your own business on someone else’s name and success. Your target should be to be as successful as the designers that you are working together with.
We approach the selection of local designers in the same way. They do not need to be local either - as long as they are not so well-known, they can be from any part of the world. If they have real passion, vision for future trends, natural talent, and unique designs, we do not have any reason for not working with them.
How is the shipyard set up to be future-proof for either the expansion or decline in activity that the Turkish yacht building industry might experience over the coming decade?
We do have some strategies set up for expanding our part in the Turkish and global yachting industry. Many people are aware of our company’s strong financial backing and how we are driven in working with industry professionals to meet the quality standards as set by today’s demanding yacht owners. We are constantly thinking in the long term in regards to our business and setting our plans for our two, five and ten year visions. We are fortunate to have a company owner who has created a healthy professional environment, and I feel this is our biggest advantage.
Do you predict that the uncertain political landscape of the country will affect Turkey’s industry in the near future?
This is certainly affecting the Turkish yachting industry, but it is not a problem unique to our country. Other parts of the world such as the U.K, Greece, France and the U.S. too are experiencing difficulties. This will slow down the business which may stagnate for a while but after that we are expecting a healthy growth in the Turkish yacht industry. I am definitely sure about that. The biggest advantage of the Turkish industry is its people. People who have become used to living in such uncertain conditions will rise to be more powerful than they once were.
Many Turkish shipyards are owned by wealthy individuals who are often also yacht owners themselves. The problem is that often they lose interest after a few years. Does this concern you in regards to Sarp’s business model?
This is not a setup you will only find on the Turkish yacht building scene, but across the world. I do not find this concept strange, however. These individuals are driven by the pleasure of being involved in something different than what they have done before, and to many it is a hobby. Some of these people make a success out of it, others experience great losses.
The important thing is that people have to realise that this is a serious business with its own unique dynamics. Sarp Yachts is aware of this which is why we have set up the company as a business from day one and not just a hobby. It has only been four years since our doors opened and today we are certified higher than certain companies who have been in business for 15 or 20 years in the region.
What’s next for Sarp Yachts? Where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?
All shipyards in all regions are experiencing tough times at the moment. Times weren’t much different when we were setting up the company five years ago so this is not a surprise for us. We see all crises as opportunities - if you know how to handle it. We are expecting to be one of the most competitive shipyards in regards to the quality/price ratio, as well as in responding to owner’s requests.
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