Maciej Stompór, a co-owner of Dobre Jachty, shares his thoughts on his fleet of sailing beauties. Interview by Sankhyayan Datta
WBJ: Sunreef Yachts before. Dobre Jachty now. How far does your association with yachts go back?\
Maciej Stompór: Sails and boats have been present in my life since early childhood. My first sailing attempts took place in the Kashubian Lake District [northern Poland] during a family vacation when I was maybe just 8 years old. Later, I started going to the Masurian Lake District [north-east Poland], where I obtained a sailing license, then I spent every summer on the water – first as a camp participant and later as an instructor. Finally, it was the turn of the sea escapades – at first on the Bay of Gdańsk, then on the Baltic, North Sea, Atlantic, and then on one of the most beautiful reservoirs in the world – in Greece, where during university years I organized semi-commercial sailing trips. So when the opportunity to work at Sunreef Yachts appeared, I knew that the broadly understood yachting industry is something that I would like to tie my career with.
What inspired you to be a yachtsman?
From the very beginning, my parents supported my interest in sailing and helped me to experience new things as much as possible. My first job related to yachts was running cruises and working as an instructor. During this period, I met many people who addressed sailing professionally, including professional skippers and regatta sailors, and their work seemed extremely attractive to me.
Then for the first time, I thought that this could be a way of life for me too. Later, by organizing my own partly commercial cruises, I gained even more appetite for this form of professional life, and the next fascinating characters only confirmed my belief that this is an industry full of extremely interesting and inspiring people. It still stands today.
Tell us more about all your vessels.
Dobre Jachty is the sole representative of the top French shipyards Jeanneau, Lagoon, Prestige, CNB and the Italian Cranchi shipyard. We sell sailing and motor yachts, having a very wide range of boats from 6-24 meters long. These are units for long-distance oceanic cruises, as well as smaller boats for lakes, that, like Jeanneau Merry Fisher, can be transported on a trailer.
How are they different and better than those of your competitors?
Our French yachts Jeanneau, Lagoon, Prestige and CNB belong to the Beneteau group which is the largest yacht producer in the world. All of these yachts and the Italian boats from the Cranchi shipyard, which by the way celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, can boast of excellent workmanship and excellent nautical properties. The best industry specialists work on yacht projects, eg VPLP design office, involved in many racing projects and many years of experience in yacht construction is a guarantee of high quality.
Your most prized possessions? Why are they so significant?
One of the yachts from our offer is the magnificent 24-meter Lagoon 77 catamaran. It is a unique boat for me because it is a really large and luxurious catamaran, sailing perfectly with a great design. This unit offers an unusual level of comfort on-board and the possibility of autonomous navigation in distant waters. And I have the biggest fondness for such yachts since my Sunreef Yachts stint.
It has been widely reported that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ordered a hydrogen-powered yacht - a relatively green alternative. How environmentfriendly are your vessels?
Recent press reports about the likely order of the yacht by Bill Gates are for the time being an extremely ambitious project, which, hitting the hands of such a shipowner certainly has a chance to arise. However, this type of vessel is completely unachievable for most yachting enthusiasts. A great plus is that when creating unique designs, technology may arise or develop that will eventually become everyday use.
Dobre Jachty’s offer includes many sailing yachts, ie driven by wind. You cannot deny them the title of relatively ecological constructions. The life span of the size of currently built units is quite large. Yacht manufacturers have a lot of challenges, not only for yacht propulsion – especially motor yachts – but also for the materials from which they are made. And more precisely – how to re-use the so-called parts.
What are the business plans for 2020?
2020 is a special year for us. After a very successful period for the company in 2018 and 2019, maintaining growth will be a big challenge. For the second time, we were on Forbes’ Diamonds list (2020, previously 2017), which we treat as a big distinction, given the niche nature of our business. We have a lot of work ahead of us, not only related to the promotion of specific models of yachts from our offer but the promotion of yachting as a way of spending free time, a prestigious hobby. We want more and more Poles to try the adventure of yachting and join the exclusive community of private shipowners.
What have been the biggest challenges your company has faced since its inception?
Challenges in the Polish market are not lacking especially those in a relativelyniche and slowly-growing industry. Adapting to economic realities and fiscal regulations, acquiring good funding for our customers, as well as promoting yachting among our target audience and acquiring new customers are key challenges. Of course, we have had difficult technical or logistical problems, but over the years of our activities, we have learned to limit them and solve them effectively. The most important thing, however, is to gather a good team. And although we are not a big company, I very much appreciate our employees and colleagues, their energy, professionalism and readiness to overcome new challenges.
How has your company grown since it was founded?
Since its inception, Dobre Jachty has developed consistently from year to year, but over the last 6-7 years, we have managed to gain momentum, implementing ambitious projects, expanding the offer of yachts and reaching new customers. Our turnover, both taking into account the number of yachts sold and their value, are incomparable with those in the past. However, we do not settle on our laurels – in my opinion, it is an excellent basis for further development, further bold business steps.
Mistakes and problems are, I think, inevitable. But we try to learn from all the difficult situations and avoid them in the future. I consider our biggest mistake was to focus on effectively solving technical problems and neglecting a somewhat direct relationship with the customer.
Where does the room for improvement lie?
In customer service. Most often we sell yachts, which for our customers are purchases related solely for pleasure, for the realization of their dreams. It’s a great feeling to be part of such a process but creating a long-term, sincere relationship requires hard work. Sometimes the true value is not to make a transaction but just an interesting friendship with extraordinary people.