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Hatteras and Cabo president talks about the future

Under new ownership, Hatteras and Cabo yachts will focus on its new Fort Lauderdale-based Hatteras Cabo Yacht Center, tapping Cabo’s former sales vice president Don Smith as the general manager of the center earlier this month.

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“The yacht center is and will continue to be an important part of our strategy going forward,” Hatteras and Cabo president John Ward told Trade Only Today. “The dealers all understand that and embrace that.”

The company had begun to move away from a traditional dealer stocking model just prior to Brunswick Corp.’s announcement early this year that it planned to sell the brands, which occurred just about the time the new yacht center was up and running. With the exception of “a couple straggler units,” most of the field inventory is gone, Ward said.

“Part of our strategy was creating a venue where customers and prospects could come that is accessible from anywhere in the world, and also accessible year-round,” Ward said. “That’s working out very, very well. We’re seeing more and more traffic and activity going on at the yacht center in Fort Lauderdale. We just brought Don Smith back on board as general manager. He’s an industry veteran, and he’s going to manage the sales, the inventory and the facility. We’re really excited to have him back on board.”

Smith had spent more than four years with Cabo prior to his departure in June 2012, when he became vice president of sales at Bertram Yachts. He has worked in sales since 1990 for companies that include Chris-Craft, Galati Yacht Sales and MarineMax.

After the brands were on the market for six months, Brunswick sold them Aug. 6 to Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management LLC affiliate Navis HCY Acquisition. Versa announced that Ward, a 24-year marine executive whose experience includes roles with Boston Whaler and Mercury Marine, would continue to lead Hatteras and Cabo as president and CEO.

Versa reinforced to dealers at a forum last month that it bought the company to invest in it, to grow it and return it back to its greatness, and that it was keeping its management team, Ward said.

“Our investors are taking a supportive approach,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of great competencies [and resources] that we can draw on when and if we need them.”

See Tuesday’s Trade Only Today for the second of two stories based on the interview.

— Reagan Haynes

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