How do you sell a brokerage boat in Florida in a bad economy? You put up a booth at the Shanghai International Boat Show, of course.
“China has the demand but no inventory of brokerage boats,” says Jeff Erdmann, President of Bollman Yachts. “We’ve got the weather, yards, marinas, destinations and boats to serve that market, so we’re coming to them.”
It’s actually the Florida Yacht Brokers Association (FYBA) that is buying booth space in China next April, but it’s part of what Erdmann has been working on for the better part of the past five years since he joined the FYBA Board of Directors and became the Chair of the Legislative Affairs Committee. His continuing advocacy to rebuild the boating market in south Florida has included retaining the Florida Yacht & Ship Brokers Licensing Act in 2011, helping to pass the $18,000 sales-use tax cap in 2010, and extending the 90-day post purchase sales tax exemption to 180 days in 2009. It’s estimated that boating has an economic impact on the state in excess of $18 billion and over 200,000 jobs, so there is all kinds of interest in matching boats with buyers and hopefully even keeping them in the area for additional tourism and refit revenue.
With nine brokers in Lauderdale and a satellite office in Jacksonville, Erdmann also has plenty of incentive to bring the buyers to him. His offices sell used boats 40’-150’ with the sweet spot in the 55’ – 75’ range. In terms of boats sold, about 65% are sailboats and 35% are powerboats with those numbers almost reversed when referencing dollars versus units.
The focus on sailing reflects Erdmann’s own passions. He is a Deerfoot/Sundeer specialist, has a Pacific Cup Race (from San Francisco to Hawaii) under his belt, and even did a 30,000 mile circumnavigation of sorts in five weeks with a combination of chartered sailboats, 747 jets and help from his longtime friend John Kretschmer.
Bollman Yachts was founded in 1984 and Erdmann bought it in 2001. He believes his key to a decade of success has been consistency; since most of his brokers have been with Bollman over twenty years, are always ready to provide good advice to both buyers and sellers, and generally work as a team with their customers.
“Buyers in the US are constantly bombarded by the media with bad news about the economy so they’re missing confidence and at best are cautiously optimistic,” says Erdmann. “But there is incredible value out there with lots of attractive price points right now. So while the US sorts it out, we’re expanding our reach to people from other parts of the world who want to get into boating with the goal of bringing them to Florida not just to buy a boat, but to use it here as well.”