CEO Series: Q&A with Westport President Daryl Wakefield
The Virtual BOAT Show speaks to Daryl Wakefield, who became Westport president in 2000.
What developments have taken place at the company during the past few months?
A crash course on social distancing, revising ingress/egress to maintain 6’ distance on the boats under construction. On the other hand, we have been able to deliver two 38 metre boats to Florida, sold a 50 metre and are about to close on a Westport 112 in the next week.
How do you think the superyacht industry will change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?
It has affected every aspect from meeting with clients, design changes, décor selections, all have become virtual. Boat shows are now virtual. The material supply chain has frozen in some cases. Travel restrictions have slowed for service and support travel. Hopefully after the coronavirus pandemic gets under control, we will be able to go back to face to face meetings
What has been the most enjoyable experience during your time as president?
Our growth during the mid-2000s, building new construction facilities, introducing new models like our 50 and 40 meters. I have enjoyed the relationships with customers. Many of them have built 3-5 boats with us. I have also enjoyed the addition of the owners rendezvous. Many of our customers have developed into friends and are people I can consult on business matters and get their feedback from their perspective.
What has been your greatest challenge?
We have always tried to give the most value for the dollar. In recent years that message has been diluted or in some cases lost altogether. The superyacht industry has developed into a global market, thus there are more competitors in the marketplace.
How do you foresee the company evolving over the next five years?
The pandemic has put a freeze on our new product development. With several new designs pretty well ready to go, getting them to market has been a challenge to say the least. Westport will survive and come out on the other side of the pandemic with these new products and hopefully keep our place in the worldwide market.