Market Q&A: John Cohen of Merle Wood & Associates

Written by Laura Nicholls

John Cohen is a well-respected industry veteran who, after having worked alongside Merle Wood for over 24 years, has many anecdotes about his time as a professional broker. Having been a captain, manager of a yacht and aircraft company and a boat owner himself, Cohen is most certainly a passionate and dedicated attribute to the industry. Taking the time out in between yacht visits during a busy FLIBS, Cohen shares his fascinating and extensive expertise with SYT.John Cohen of Merle Wood & AssociatesPhoto: Merle Wood & AssociatesWhat is your opinion on the American market at the moment?

As one of my clients says, you have to remember: the American market has always been the strongest market. When we have our downtimes, the American market is the first to come back on top. There was a big change in 2008 when the financial markets came down but we weathered through it and had some of our strongest years as a result. If you look at the majority of the new builds around the world today, a good percentage of them are for Americans. The American market is very important. Quantum of Solace yacht by Turquoise in MiamiPhoto: Merijn de Waard / SuperYacht TimesWhat advice do you give to new owners coming into the market and looking for a yacht?

It must be acknowledged that any new owners coming in are successful business people. Through hard work, they’ve put themselves in the position to be able to afford a 121-foot yacht. As brokers, we are there to provide advice and guidance and to cater to the needs of each individual. Owners earn their money in a variety of ways and they’re each going to do their yachting differently, so there is no cookie-cutter advice for owners. If we’re working with a client, we have to also be working with their mindset. O'mega anchored off MonacoPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / SuperYacht TimesDo you have a preferred method of getting to know an owner so you can cater to their needs

Just listen. There’s nothing new in what we do. It’s just listening, paying attention and learning what their likes and dislikes are. It’s understanding their way of life and helping them find the yacht that works for them, that has the crew best-suited to their lifestyle.2018 Palm Beach International Boat ShowPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhat is your strategy for learning about every detail of a boat?

Prior to shows, we do broker walkthroughs and spend hours on board so we know every inch of the boat. Our brokers have to be able to speak freely and off the cuff each time they bring a client on board, and if there’s something they falter on, they had better figure out how to improvise. Merle has high expectations and so everyone on our sales team has to have an understanding that each boat has a different culture aboard, and how best to convey that. 2018 Palm Beach International Boat ShowPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesWhat excites you about the industry?

It’s always exciting to see the new yachts coming out, and the big ones are amazing, but we can’t lose sight of the smaller superyachts. We’ve got to keep in mind that what’s leaving the production facilities will ultimately enter into the brokerage market. We’re brokers, we’re salesmen, so we need to have and take care of not only what may be coming in the future, but also what’s already in the world fleet today.

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