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Old 04-11-2008, 04:43   #1
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It's the economy stupid!

Living here in South Florida, where the yacht industry has been booming for years, but is now slowing down dramatically, it is amazing how the workers have not quite caught on. We have recently started a refit here, and the attitude I am encountering among some workers is would be laughable if it were not so surreal. I recently had some work that needed the touch of experienced carpenters, here in a town with thousands of them out of work due to the housing collapse, and yet these "boat carpenters" (basically floating cabinet makers) thought nothing of not showing up on time, not cleaning up their work area, padding their hourly bill by lots of hours, and basically working the job in whatever order they (not me) wanted, and starting jobs I didn't want done, and then telling me I would HAVE TO finish it now that they had torn it apart, all the while not finishing other jobs that they had already started. Yet when I fired them, they looked like deer in the headlights, and I had to repeat it several times "Don't ya get it, you're fired". They were quickly replaced with guys who understand how to do a good job, price accordingly, and actually listen. Is this going on elsewhere as well? If so, then maybe we are entering an era where customer service is making a comeback, with pride in workmanship will prevail.
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Old 04-11-2008, 06:35   #2
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What you have described has been going on the Marine industry for as long as I can remember and we have had economical downturns before without anything changing as you have just stated. I don't have a lot of sympathy for the boat owner though, since in your post you state you eventually found the right contractor. How did you find him? Why did you not use those resources to find the right one in the first place? The first guy to show up and give you an estimate may not be the guy you want on your boat. You need to ask around from several sources for a good contractor. Listen carefully at how that contractors work practices are described. Look at work the contractor has completed. It takes some time and research and failing to do this, you get what you get. The guy that can't get to you for a week or more is probably the guy you want. The ones that never showed up you don't want and if you had ask around you probably would have found out these guys would never show up and saved yourself the time you spent sitting around waiting.
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Old 04-11-2008, 06:51   #3
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the attitude I am encountering among some workers is would be laughable if it were not so surreal...
Despite occasional wonderfully competent marine professionals, what you describe is all too prevalent in the “yachty” world… been there did that, now if I need work I usually either learn to do it myself or hire folks who the watermen hire… Unfortunately, semi-disciplined shysters color the reputation of the entire industry… glad you found some that actually took pride in their work…
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Old 04-11-2008, 07:15   #4
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Try a Cabinet Maker!

We recently had some woodwork done on our boat by an out of work home building industry cabinet maker. The job had been started a year earlier by a "Yacht Carpenter" who charged us a fortune, worked when it was convenient for him,left jobs unfinished and then quit showing up at all after I mentioned the cost over-runs and corrections that needed finishing.

A few weeks ago I happened to run into a fellow that had done some cabinet work on a friends house and I asked him if he did any work on boats. He said he never had and wasn't sure he could handle tne work. "Can you mak a pattern?" I asked. "Yep" he replied. "Can you cope a beveled corner moldng?"; "Yep". "Fine--your hired!"

Within two working days he had finished the undone work; and, a bunch more, and had done a fantastic job on compound curved corner and edge moldings and hull liners with matched grain--all from scrape planks of teak from Teak Decking in Sarasota that he milled to the right thicknesses. Moreover, his final bill was so low, much less than his estimate, that I thought he'd made a mistake, but he assured me he had not. (We actually paid him somewhat more as we could not, in good concience, do otherwise.)

If anyone in the Tampa/Sarasota area has need of such work, PM us and we'll send along his name a phone number.

s/v HyLyte
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Old 04-11-2008, 10:13   #5
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I think SV HyLyte’s experience highlights the differences between individuals plying their trade in different areas.

A cabinetmaker competing with many others in the LARGE industry of homebuilding and renovations has to be good, cost effective and organized, or else he doesn’t survive because the primary building contractors judge more harshly and won’t use or recommend him, if they are sloppy.

In yachting, we have a mish-mash of less professional, less efficient tradesmen (characters) who tend to stake out their turf at the various marinas who promote them.They can charge a premium to novice Owners and overbook jobs so as to almost guarantee crisis management.

No one really holds them accountable and an unhappy yacht owner does not carry much weight in their business as the perception is that we are rich, numerous, treat it as a toy and can afford it.

It is only when at times like this economic downturn, that the cream from the more disciplined trades are looking for work, can we judge their disparity.

Unfortunately, there is more security in the home building trade, so the good ones will not be available for long.
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Old 04-11-2008, 10:52   #6
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"Don't ya get it, you're fired".
Good for you..

Everything else I wanted to say already has been.
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Old 04-11-2008, 12:00   #7
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now if I need work I usually either learn to do it myself or hire folks who the watermen hire…

Yep, me too. I can usually figure out how to do everything I need to. I at least get it right the second time and learning makes me more self sufficient for when there is no help available.
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