Yachting News » Events » AERÉ Marine Group Bringing World Class Docking Solutions to Caribbean Charter Yacht Show

AERÉ Marine Group Bringing World Class Docking Solutions to Caribbean Charter Yacht Show

With the inaugural Caribbean Charter Yacht Show less than three months away, many companies have been keen to signal their support of IGY’s pioneering new event by signing up as show sponsors.

One such business is AERÉ Marine Group, suppliers of world class docking solutions to yachts all over the globe. Based in Coral Springs, Florida, the company’s roots were established over 20 years ago by Vicki and Gary Abernathy following a particularly serendipitous stroke of luck.

“We moved to Florida when I was asked to run a telecoms company,” recalls Vicki. “Gary was an entrepreneur and he hooked up with a friend who was designing and manufacturing small sailboats with inflatable hulls.

“At that time, our only exposure to the industry was that we had a trawler we used to use at weekends. We were both in high tech careers, but this business started accidentally when, during a hurricane, Gary quickly took cushions from some of the sailboats to put around our boat in the Keys, transforming them into makeshift fenders.

“Our boat came through the storm very well and other people at the marina started asking, where can we get these fenders? My husband said, from me! We started with one colour and one size in 1998 and the business has grown from there. Our son Daniel now runs the fender cover side of the business - he worked at his first boat show at 11 – and we have 14 employees.”

AERÉ Marine Group manufactures and supplies innovative products for docking solutions, including over 40 different sized inflatable fenders, fender covers, marina products, inflatable work platforms and inflatable docks, to customers all over the world. They also supply the US Navy and US Coastguard as well as Alaskan State Ferries.

“We are continuously looking for new products to launch,” adds Vicki. “We came up with the work platforms a few years ago, and people love them because they are always working on their boats. The platforms are sturdy and stable and won’t hurt the boat if they hit it.”

After an unpredictable 18 months, Vicki is proud of the fact that AERÉ Marine Group has not only made it through the pandemic but also saw their online sales increase dramatically.

“Our sales were bad for a couple of months in 2020,” she recalls. “We closed our office and production area for about a few weeks before redesigning it to create social distancing between the work force. They have always worn masks because of the different fibres used so that was nothing new for us.

“Our sales started to rebound in small boats very quickly. Other companies tend to concentrate on the big boats but we also make fenders for small boats and as a lot of Americans bought boats last year to enable them to do fun things with their families safely, we picked up those sales.

“The idea of an inflatable fender which you can deflate and stow when not in use has always resonated with the big boats but suddenly, the little boats got on board with this too and we started doing a chunk of business with boats 40ft and under.

“Once the big boats started moving again, our sales in that area came back quickly and we are now ahead of 2020 sales so far this year. We have had some supply chain issues – our yarn is from North Carolina and they couldn’t get raw materials for a while - but that is straightening out. The cost of shipping has gone through the roof and with a lot of our clients in Europe, that’s a challenge but we are working through it and our customers are very understanding.”

Joining forces with IGY as a sponsor at the first CCYS was a natural progression to pitch AERÉ Marine Group to a wider customer base comprising chiefly captains and crew who take care of day-to-day boat protection.  

“We have watched IGY grow over several years and it is a class operation which is managed well,” says Vicki. “They do a very good job wherever they go. We pride ourselves on having a premium product and we like to work with other companies that we consider premier companies. IGY is definitely one of those.

“We are looking for more visibility in the Caribbean and through CCYS, we look forward to growing our relationship with IGY. This is a wonderful way to do it. Charter shows are fun and we hope this will be the first of many events we do with them. We’ve been talking for years about working together so this was a great entrée for us as well as a wonderful way to meet people and find a new clientele.

“Big boats are our strong suit and they’ll be at the show so we’ll meet the captains and crew and do consultations with them. One of the things charter yachts love is that we embroider the boat name or logo onto the fender cover. We also make wine coolers out of neoprene and give them to the boats.”

With the onus on CCYS being quite different in feel and atmosphere to other charter shows, Vicki took the decision to attend the St. Thomas based show instead of Antigua with Gary and AERÉ’s director of sales Mike Yorston.

“St Thomas is a wonderful destination, it’s very easy to get to from the States but a lot of people don’t think of going there,” she adds.  “The beautiful marina setting makes this a good sales pitch for a stunning location – the island is beautiful all year round, the people are wonderful and you can lose yourself in the hills. It really has everything and we are very much looking forward to being there.”

Aere docking solutions logo

Post your comment

You cannot post comments until you have logged in.

Login to post a comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments



Search articles with keywords