I have recently returned from Amsterdam, where I was attending The Superyacht Forum. I have to say, the cold, grey and damp weather did little to motivate me for the last show of the ‘season’. However, The Superyacht Forum, housed within the impressive RAI, proved to be an interesting and informative affair offering the opportunity to discuss the industry’s issues and contemplate the future with some of my contemporaries – a welcome change from the frenetic nature of MYS and FLIBS.
My primary reason for attending the Forum was to present Pinmar’s new paint standard, the Pinmar Standard 2.0, six years on from the launch of the original benchmark. The first Pinmar Standard presented a set of empirically measured parameters, which demonstrated that a premium paint result could be defined with clarity, and thus simplify the acceptance process for customers. This empirical approach was adopted by the industry and led to the launch of several similar publications, including the ICOMIA guidelines for superyacht finishing and refit projects. Undoubtedly, the original Pinmar Standard acted as a catalyst for change, which resulted in a significant improvement in communication, quality and professionalism in this sector of the industry.
After six years of using the Standard to facilitate the acceptance of hundreds of paint projects, this prompted us to re-evaluate and to explore new ways to improve the process of defining and measuring performance with the goal of adding value to our customers.
In developing the Pinmar Standard 2.0 we have sought to address several specific issues. There are new products and manufacturers playing a bigger part in the market today. As yachts get bigger, we have seen a larger number of surveyors getting involved in the contracts, which is positive, but not all of them use the same equipment to measure quality and performance. The average size of superyachts has risen dramatically in the past 10 years (Pinmar’s average yacht in 2006 was 54m and in 2016 it was 78m), and despite the significant increase in the size of the vessels, there is a demand to maintain the same refit schedules and budgets. A pragmatic approach is therefore required from the applicator, inspector and customer to recognise and address these important factors.
A binary approach to standards of performance is not always helpful and can lead to unnecessary delays and expense for the customer. The Six-Sigma approach to quality assessment provides a range of targets to be set with a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable outcomes. The adoption of this approach, which has worked well in many other industries, enables the team to aim for excellence, accept the reality and reject the sub-standard.
Not all topcoats exhibit the same parameters and perform in the same way, necessitating product- and project-specific targets to be defined. Manufacturers of coating products are constantly seeking to balance regulatory compliance with product improvement, so it is imperative that performance standards allow for this variation and facilitate the ongoing product innovation.
The new standard has been in development for more than 12 months and the Pinmar team has collaborated with leading paint consultants and manufacturers to define a process and set of topcoat-specific values that are fully fit for purpose and will enable our customers to clearly see the value of a Pinmar finish. I was extremely proud to present the Pinmar Standard 2.0 to an interested audience of my peers at The Superyacht Forum (TSF) and sincerely hope that it will prove as valuable to the industry as its predecessor.
Outside my paint-specific agenda at TSF, I also participated in several of the general business discussions facilitated by Martin Redmayne, as he sought to define a 10-year blueprint for our industry. My non-exec chairman, Stephen Murphy (ex-CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group), and I were quizzed about the flotation of GYG plc on the London stock market and the City’s perception of our industry. I have to say, in contrast to some of my colleagues at the Forum who seemed decidedly cautious and even pessimistic, I think the future is bright for the superyacht industry. As the sector and wider market continue to grow and mature, it will only become more invest-able, leading to greater access to capital. With wise investment in people and technology, continued efforts to improve industry standards and communication and a focus on sustainability, we can create a long term profitable future – it’s in our hands.