Bob Saxon is an iconic figure in the global yachting community. With over 30 years of experience he has been in pioneer in yacht management, crew management, yacht build projects and yacht charter specializing in the luxury yacht space. He is regarded by many as the patriarch of yacht management and charter, bringing a highly professional and rigorous approach to the effective management and operation mega-yachts around the world.
He has held a series of senior executive and leadership positions in the industry working with prestigious brands. Bob was President of Camper & Nicholson’s USA, the largest full service yacht brokerage, charter, management and new build specialists in the world. He held the position from 2002-2008 after selling his own business Bob Saxon Associates to Camper & Nicholsons. Prior to his role with Camper & Nicholsons he had owned and operated Bob Saxon Associates for 15 years a leader in professional yacht management services. Earlier in his career Bob was President of the Sacks Group and Vice President of Whittemore & Williams, the forerunner and pioneer of yacht management services. Presently Bob is President of the International Yacht Collection, a globally positioned firm engaged in the superyacht business.
Throughout his career he has worked with some 3,000 yacht owners on a broad number of yachts and types and a diverse array of projects. He is well known among yacht owners, crew and industry peers as having the highest standards of integrity, fastidious attention to detail and relentless tenacity.
Bob is also the Founding President of the International Superyacht Society, an industry trade group that supports the global superyacht industry and serves to facilitate best practices and networking across the industry at large.
Bob recently was recently honored by the International Superyacht Society with its inaugural and prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of his exemplary body of work in the yachting arena.
He is a licensed broker-manager with Florida Yacht Brokers Association and a leading industry spokesman and advocate. As an accomplished public speaker he has addressed a variety of groups and associations on matters related to the industry, served as master of ceremonies at yachting affiliated events and been interviewed quoted by a range of leading media including the New York Times, Yachting, Showboats, The Economist, CNBC, and a number of other trade publications and media outlets.
Bob graduated with a BA degree from Florida Atlantic University and has lived in Fort Lauderdale most of his life. In his leisure time he enjoys coaching his grandchildren’s junior league baseball team.
Going back to when you first started with your organization to now, what has been your proudest personal accomplishment?
It’s been but just one year since I joined International Yacht Collection as President but I am pleased to tell you that the company enjoyed its best year during 2011 in volume sales since being acquired by Trinity Yachts several years ago. We’ve taken the company through an entire re-branding process with a whole new look, feel, theme and approach to business as a response to a dramatically changing marketplace.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Yachting is the kind of business wherein every day presents new business vistas. I’m not one who resides well with the status quo and I am out to challenge staff and others at IYC to be the best at what they do, whether sales, marketing, or administration. I’m an old high school English teacher and baseball coach. I thrive on those moments when I find myself in the teaching and coaching modes in the office and can bring the team to superior performance.
Do you have a mentor; someone who has been there to guide you or consult with you when you needed their input?
There have been a few “guiding lights” during my career….outstanding teachers and professors, business gurus, and friends. One of my long time attorneys, Jim Porter of Hodgson Russ Andrews and Goodyear, is a favorite in that when I ask an opinion I don’t get cited legal chapter and verse. He always begins his answer by looking up to the sky, taking a deep breath, and saying, “Let me tell you a little story” which always provides the practical application of what I am asking.
You are out in the public arena quite often; who is the most interesting person you have ever met?
Warren Buffett and Muhammed Ali. I had a chance to show Ali a card trick one time. I have a score of yacht owners who are really interesting with their stories of how they made their fortunes….from the guy who is the world’s leading producer of bread crumbs to the guy who bakes and sells 67% of the world’s supply of fruitcakes! And in between another few thousand other fascinating success stories.
Is there a charitable event(s) you really look forward to attending each year?
Winterfest supports scores of charities with the boat parade and has become one of my favorites for that effort. I had the chance to emcee the 2011 version of Winterfest and it was a hoot! That holiday event brings out the best in people and showcases Fort Lauderdale it’s finest light.
How do you relax?
I have a Sunday morning ritual that finds me just north of Sunrise Boulevard catching the sun coming up over the horizon as I sit in a beach chair with a collection of Yeats in my lap. It tends to reset my internal clock and provide a refreshing perspective on things. Mother Nature at her finest.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
I like nothing better than taking a long weekend in New York City arriving Thursday night and grabbing a Broadway play, dinner at the Water Club, rolling through Greenwich Village, the museums, and a drop into the Iridium, one of my favorite jazz spots. Climbing the walls of the Red Rock Canyon in the desert west of Las Vegas is right there in second place.
What do you wish you could have a never-ending supply of?
One-liners that poke fun at human nature and make people laugh. I like the sport of what I guess you could call ‘jesting jousting’ – mixing it up with friends over a good glass of wine and enjoying the revelry.
Are you where you hoped you would be at this point in your life?
Beyond my wildest dreams. From being a high school English teacher at Cardinal Gibbons, Fort Lauderdale fireman for two years, high school baseball coach, Superintendent of Recreation for the city of Fort Lauderdale, and having started and sold my own yachting business, as well as now in the position I am in heading up a global megayachting business, I count myself amongst the most fortunate of individuals.
What do you still hope to accomplish?
Frost said it, “And miles to go before I sleep.” I suffer a basic unrest that keeps me plugging away at the ever-changing business panorama. What potential accomplishment it is, I am never sure of until I find it in my path. At that point I either walk around it or accept the challenge and set forth toward achievement. Everybody has that “bucket list” and mine is quite lengthy.
In order to thrive and survive in the corporate workplace, we sometimes have to desensitize ourselves in order to get ahead. Not being real and authentic, isn’t that a big sacrifice to make?
That question has a little bit of Wharton 101 built into it. I guess it’s okay to suggest you have to ‘desensitize’ somewhat and extract emotion at times, but I don’t feel that to be a basic tenet in order to guarantee success. Instinct, passion, and plain old ‘gut’ feelings often are the bases for success stories and getting ahead. Sure enough you have to at times step back and see the world in black and white, but there is a lot of room for technicolor as well at times.
You are evidently a very capable and talented woman/man, what other talent do you wish you had been born with?
I think like most other kids – and I still feel “kid-like” – I wanted to be a major league ballplayer. Had I my father’s frame (he was 6’3” and weighed in at 225 pounds) I could have taken my somewhat developed baseball skills to greater extremes. Such is life. We go with the cards that were dealt to us and I ended up coaching the athletes built like my old man.
Oh, I wish I was one of those lucky ones who can sit down and play a musical instrument without a single lesson. I want to learn to play the ukulele so that I can accompany myself singing Christmas carols to my grandchildren. I bought the instrument and now begins the discipline of learning how to play.
What magazine do you look forward to reading each week/month?
I look forward to getting my weekly edition of The New Yorker. I find a spot at Capital Grille on a quiet night and pore over it with focused care and attention.
What will we find you doing on a Saturday night?
Wandering the haunts of Las Olas in search of the perfect musical chord and intresting conversation. I am a big fan of live music venues and sure do miss O’Hara’s with that funky jazz scene.
What do you have to say to all the young women/men out there ready to take on the future?
Persevere. Adopt a ‘never give up’ temperament. It is indeed a “Brave New World” beset with all kinds of pitfalls and snares but if one can continue to press on and find that market niche, there are no limits to what can be realized. It’s not quite as simple as ‘find out what somebody wants and sell it to them’ but in reality it’s not that much more complicated.
What is the greatest problem we are facing in this country today?
Unemployment and the failing industrial complex. For my industry’s considerations, the positioning of wealth as the source of our economic ills and the negative positioning of affluence is curious. The American dream – the Horatio Alger story that can take one from rags to riches – has become a diminished theme in our country. There abounds so much criticism of the wealthy but folks tend to forget that when somebody builds a yacht they are employing several hundred workers over a four or five year period resulting in hundreds of thousands of man hours of labor. The yacht gets delivered and the infrastructure necessary to support the yacht further results in active vendors, and jobs, jobs, jobs. South Florida alone boasts of over 200,000 jobs associated with boating and yachting support.
Bob is an exceptionally talented individual who has been a significant contributor to the growth, professionalism and stature of our marine industry !
Thanks for being part of my "Have You Met" on Blacktie-Southflorida.com. Ginny