22 years ago I met Lars for the first time. He's big, solid and Swedish - and if you've ever read Pippi Longstocking he would definitely remind you of (a young version of) Pippi's father, the seafarer and cannibal king. Although I don't think neither Ephraim nor Lars were into cannibalism.
Pippi's father, eh, Lars, left, owner hanging from boom like a monkey on the right, assorted deckhands in the middle
Lars and his at that time girlfriend, Robbie, were hired as crew on my boat, a Swan 59, build number 8 (current Thingamy build is 2.2.12 I think...) a white beauty named "Sassy" built up north in Finland (my third Swan no less).
For three years Lars ran the boat with deft professionalism and Robbie ruled the galley while Lars' nephew Lennart inhabited the forepeak and oiled winches when he was not making the best piña colada ever (a dash of bananas I think it was).
Antigua race week, 21 cases of Heineken consumed on first race day, owner sitting in shade
We even had our "own" chauffeur in English Harbour in Antigua, Jim, who normally ran one of the taxis. His son was a member of the local soccer team where Lars and Lennart joined in during the winter charter season. Myself I was limited to sponsoring the team uniform, numbered garments that were collected after each game to avoid too much wear and tear during the rest of the week.
Our team in baby blue sponsored team suits
Good times indeed. But every phase in life has an end so in 1988 I sold the yacht and Lars and I opened a yacht brokerage in Antibes, the yacht centre in Europe, and the world for that matter.
Since then Lars has run and built that business with the same diligence and professionalism as he ran the boat - I was merely the passenger and intermittent supporter as before. [The Fenderkicker blog is here by the way.]
One year ago time was ripe for yet another change as Lars moved on to New Zealand (his wife is Kiwi) but still keeping a keen eye on the operations up here.
And with that we felt an increased interest in our business among potential acquirers. Not only has the business been profitable for almost twenty years, it has a very good reputation and extremely capable people while being one of the few, if not the only mid sized yacht broker in this area not yet gobbled up by the big operators. In other word a perfect target.
The combination of having an interesting asset on our hands, a decision to move on and a need to shore up my wine budget (already under undue pressure from thingamy development) simply made us open the doors.
So now we're in multiple discussions, and if none of the current crop pans out we'll allow others to enter the fringe - we're sellers now. Just mail me if you want to enter the yacht business... ;)
A very good time it has been, but life goes on, and our co-workers deserve owners/partners with a more forward-looking yacht focus as I have shifted my focus ever so slightly to less salty business areas.