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Industry mourns longtime Grand Banks broker

Grand Banks broker Harold M. “Hal” Jones Jr. died Dec. 27 in Texas. He was 89.

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After serving in the Army Air Corps and the Air Force, Jones left his hometown of Indianapolis and moved to Palm Beach, Fla., where he worked in the automobile business before being drawn to boats.

An avid sailor, Jones began as a yacht broker and started his own company, Hal Jones & Co., which became a Grand Banks dealer in 1977. Jones was commodore at the Lauderdale Yacht Club and an active member in many other marine industry organizations.

He became a well-recognized name representing Grand Banks Yachts in North America and helped to create a tight-knit family within his organization. Close relationships were formed at Hal Jones & Co. with brokers, employees, technicians, Grand Banks enthusiasts and all who passed through the doors of Hal Jones & Co..

Jones had a reputation for being frugal, both personally and in his business endeavors, according to Grand Banks owner and friend Milt Baker, who bought his first and second Grand Banks from Jones.

Jones always lived in a nice home, drove a recent Mercedes-Benz model and owned at least a dozen Grand Banks yachts at any given time, but would cut corners in other places, Baker recalled.

“His habit was to eat breakfast at a small deli in Fort Lauderdale, not far from the Hal Jones & Co., and his standard breakfast was one-half of an egg white omelet,” Baker told Trade Only Today in an email. “ ‘Why pay for more than you want to eat?’ he always joked. But he was dead serious.”

That was one of the reasons most of his personal boats were called Charley Jones in the early days, then later Legend, and lastly Annie J, after his wife, Baker said.

“Hal knew exactly how much it cost to have those highly varnished Grand Banks name boards and light boards refinished with new names, so he moved the old name boards and light boards from boat to boat,” Baker said.

That frugality came in handy in business matters, Baker said.

“Among Grand Banks owners, Hal was known as a great source of odd parts and pieces for Grand Bankses,” Baker recalled. “Need to add a new Grand Banks brass lamp? Replace the fixture for a running light? A fridge door closer? A couple of Grand Banks chairs or a table for the saloon? A valve cover for your old Lehman diesel? Hal had hundreds of such Grand Banks artifacts in his warehouse.”

“He'd rarely allow a customer in the warehouse, but if you needed something he'd disappear, then return awhile later, object in hand,” Baker said. “His prices were outrageous, but he understood supply and demand as well as any economist. He had the supply and he could charge most anything he wanted to.”

“He was a good friend, a ready source of good counsel [and] a mentor,” Baker said in the email. “One lesson he taught me I'll never forget: Never fall in love with a boat you don't already own. Hal was an icon in the trawler world of the 1980s and ’90s, and I miss him already.”

Jones will be honored with a military funeral in March in the Palm Beach area.

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