A keen sailor and experienced deckhand, Shipyard Supply Co.'s Adam Hunkin has a wealth of experience when it comes to outfitting the dream deck for superyacht clients.
We spoke to Adam about some of his specialist projects, what's trending, and how the company plans to move forward in a post COVID-19 world.
How did you first get into the yachting industry?
I have been out on the water from a very young age, both sailing in dinghies and on our family yacht. I started my career in the yachting industry at the age of 17 when I joined the Bluewater Yachting two-week Teen Summer School in Antibes. I got my relevant qualifications and it was a great introduction to the industry. I made friends that I am still in contact with today, and I still bump into them every now and again too.
You worked as a deckhand on a number of significant yachts before joining SSCo., what were some of your highlights working on board?
I have many highlights from working on board - some I cannot disclose! Some of the most notable however are driving the chase boat for a J Class in the Rolex Maxi Worlds 2020 and Les Voiles Des Saint Tropez, attending the Monaco Grand Prix on a spontaneous day off mid boss trip, and being invited onto a yacht party in Monaco as a guest.
What prompted your move ashore?
I decided to move ashore to progress my career and see a different part of the industry. Shipyard Supply Co is only down the road from where I live and it offered me the perfect opportunity, so I snapped it up!
When did you join SSCo and how did it come about?
I joined in January this year. I had a meeting with the MD about a potential position at Superyacht Tenders & Toys when he mentioned its subsidiary SSCo. I had an interview with the commercial manager who I had previously worked with at Oyster Yachts, and we have a very similar background so it all worked out very well.
What does your role of project assistant entail?
My role is incredibly varied. From sales and managing both big and small projects, to taking on large procurement orders for new builds, shipping and stock control, you name it, I do it! That is just one of the exciting things about being part of a company like SSCo – no day is ever the same.
How important is it to have worked as crew when it comes to understanding the possibilities and limitations of equipment on board?
In my eyes, it’s the number one factor. I have experience being a deckhand, desperately needing a product tomorrow or trying to solve a complex problem on board. I understand the limitations and possibilities of the boat and crew, and I am also used to the demands placed upon crew by the guests and owners, so I know how it feels to be on the receiving end when deadlines are fast approaching. Having inside knowledge and the know-how of the industry makes the job fun and means I can give more to my client.
Does SSCo supply only certain brands of deck equipment or can you source whatever a client wants?
SSCo will supply whatever the client requests. Having lived in their world for the past five years, ‘no’ is not an answer we supply.
Last year SSCo launched its own range of deck equipment – what does this include and where is it manufactured?
Our deck product range consists of equipment for tenders, toys, mooring solutions, garage solutions, procurement and bespoke operations.
What is the most popular item or range that you offer?
The most popular range we offer is for tenders, in particular Tender Mooring Whips. Every yacht has them, and we are the market leaders in this product.
SSCo also manufactures custom equipment and deck furniture – what might this include and what are the most common requests?
Our Bespoke Operations Portfolio is vast, from dive equipment rails to fully bespoke tender chocks, storage boxes for guest areas and vehicle storage chocks. Nothing is too large or small for us. We don’t really have common requests as every request is tailored to the client’s needs, although dock steps seem to be popular at the moment!
What is the overall split between repair and refit supplies compared to outfitting new builds?
The overall split is around 50/50 at the moment. However, this is likely to change as the business and industry grows. More and more yachts are being converted from commercial vessels, and more expedition style yachts are being launched which provide the perfect opportunity for SSCo to get involved from the get-go.
To what extent do you have to think outside the box to fulfil clients’ wishes?
Every request from a client needs thorough thinking, whether it is a completely new bespoke product or a stock product. Our clients want the best of the best – it’s why they come to us as we can supply this service.
What was the most unusual or challenging project you’ve worked on and did you succeed?
So far, the most challenging project has been the R&D phase for a new product due to launch soon. There are lots of international regulations to comply with which has been difficult at times. I am new to developing products from scratch so it has been a very steep learning curve, but we are on track. Watch this space!
How is COVID-19 currently impacting business and how has the team adapted on a day to day basis?
COVID-19 had a huge impact one week before and one week after lockdown. It has now settled to more ‘normal’ levels of business. This is great news as it means we can continue to trade, and our clients continue to be satisfied.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt in your job so far?
The most important thing I’ve learnt so far is to take a step back sometimes, take a breath of fresh air and re-visit the project five minutes later. By giving yourself a break, you can freshen up and face whatever it is with a clear head and 110% focus.
What are your thoughts on when the industry will get back to normal and do you foresee any changes in how you operate in future?
Whether there will be a season this year is anyone’s guess, however, I more European countries are starting to open up, such as Croatia, Greece and Spain, and they are relaxing restrictions, so fingers crossed! Regarding changes, I think yachts are likely to be more conscious of the environment and how fragile the world is than ever before.
If you weren’t working in the superyacht industry, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t in the superyacht industry, I would have joined the Royal Navy as an officer (both my parents are ex-Royal Navy so it would be obvious path to choose). I actually started my application for the Navy just before I got my first job.
Who has most influenced or inspired you in your career so far?
My father kickstarted my career in the industry. He was the one who suggested joining the industry and not the Royal Navy. He has stood by my side and advised me all the way through my career. He left the Royal Navy as a Commander/ Squadron Commander for the Royal Navy Mine Hunter Fleet. His determination to reach the top of his field has rubbed off on me.
What will you be doing 10 years from now?
10 years from now is anyone’s guess. Five years ago, I didn’t think I would be shore based working for a startup in business. Ideally, I would like to have been promoted within SSCo, pushing hard with the company with a number of employees as well as starting my collection of classic cars!
What’s your motto?
My motto is from Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.