Navigator catches up with Northrop & Johnson Managing Director Asia Josh Lee to discuss all things yachting.
Q: What is your background within the yachting industry and how did you come to be a yacht broker?
A: After graduating from school, I dreaded the thought of more study, so university was out of the question for me. I decided to write down a few things that I wanted to do. The list comprised traveling, exploring and relaxing on the beach. After reviewing the list, my parents advised me to consider the maritime profession. I then enrolled in a college course called “Elementary Sea Going Skills,” which was an eye-opener. Part of the curriculum was to apply for a job at the end of the course. I was fortunate enough to get a position as a deckhand on a fast ferry in the Whitsundays. After a few years with the company, I was able to achieve my master’s ticket. At age 19, I was the captain of a 78-foot (24m) fast ferry with seven crew and 120 guests.
Eventually, I purchased my own 35-foot (10m) sailing yacht and lived aboard it for a year or so before setting sail for Asia. Four months after arriving in Phuket, Thailand, I decided to sell my yacht and rejoin land-based life. I realized, however, that there were no yacht brokers in Thailand. With so many beautiful islands and so many yachts and boats, there was definitely a market for brokers, so in October 1997, Lee Marine was born.
Q: What is your best advice to a first-time yacht buyer?
A: First, choose a reputable yacht brokerage and find a broker that you like and trust. Don’t settle; keep looking until you do. It all starts from there. Your broker should help you by understanding your real requirements. If you haven’t yet established your requirements, your broker will help create them step by step. You’ll then move onto yacht selection, survey, after-sales advice and re-sale. Hopefully, you will have a long and enjoyable relationship with
your broker; good brokers care about
Q: What is the most important facet of a successful yacht sale?
A: That’s a difficult question. I would say balancing everyone’s requirements in the correct way by being personal, patient and understanding. Relationships are the key to a successful sale.
Q: What, in your opinion, are the biggest trends happening in yacht design?
A: For our region, one of the biggest trends is definitely full displacement, which allows yacht owners to slow down and go further with more stability and lower costs.
Q: What is the current state of yachting in Asia?
A: The current state of yachting is Asia is most definitely an upward trend. Asians are entering the market in record numbers and service centers and marinas continue to grow. Like most places, the government seems to be the slowest to get on board and support the industry; however, it’s the next big cruising area of the world and it’s slowly opening up for everyone to enjoy; we are sitting right in the middle of it!
Q: What makes N&J stand out among other brokerage companies?
A: I think Northrop & Johnson in the Asia Pacific region enjoys a reputation of old-school values and a high success rate in sales and charter. People recognize the classic brand and tend to trust it as opposed to the new wave of companies with fast names and logos now appearing in the area. Asians don’t like risks when it comes to new things like yachts, so we enjoy the edge over competitors thanks to a solid, established heritage.
Q: What are your five must-have features on a yacht?
A: For me, a fun crew, excellent chef, and adequate entertainment, like music and Wi-Fi; a view of the sea from below and, of course, a well-stocked bar.