Sparkman & Stephens has a new owner

The firm remains privately held and terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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Sparkman & Stephens, the naval architecture and brokerage firm that Olin Stephens and Drake Sparkman founded in 1929, said today that it was acquired by a group of private investors led by Brooke S. Parish and John B. Reuter.

Sparkman & Stephens said the transaction enables it to implement expansion strategies in its design and brokerage businesses for which it sought growth capital. The firm remains privately held and terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We feel a tremendous sense of pride and responsibility to assume stewardship of a brand and a company whose legacy in American yachting cannot be overstated,” Parish — who will be S&S’s new chairman — said in a statement. “We intend to put significant effort and capital into building both the design and brokerage businesses.”

Parish, an asset management professional in New York and an experienced yachtsman, owns Mermaid, a 1957 S&S ketch originally built for Austin Goodyear.

“S&S’s history has been characterized by early adoption of new technology, materials and engineering techniques for almost a century,” said Reuter, who has been named CEO. “We are enthusiastic about continuing to build on that foundation.”

Reuter is a successful entrepreneur and private equity investor and has been involved with yachts for nearly 20 years.

Jason Black, the company’s COO, based in Greenwich, Conn., initiated the transaction and negotiated on behalf of the company. Black will remain responsible for S&S’s brokerage team, business development and operations.

“We intend to maintain the company’s full design and brokerage staff, as well as adding new positions over the coming months — we’re hiring! A new office in Fort Lauderdale is also being discussed,” Black said.

S&S’s chief designer, Brendan Abbott, will continue to lead the design studio in Newport, R.I.

“We delight in our sailing legacy and will always be active in that category,” Abbott said, “but we are putting increasing effort into building our portfolio in the poweryacht arena. There are some fantastic projects already on the boards and the future looks bright.”

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