Ketch Of The Month
Hal Slater, CPYB
This monthly spotlight on YBAA Members asks questions ranging from personal interests and hobbies to musings regarding the industry as a whole. In their own words, members share their secrets for success, as well as how to become a more visible entity in the community of yacht sales professionals.
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Turning a “passion into a profession” is the motto of YBAA’s new President, Hal Slater of Brewer Yacht Sales, Branford, CT.
Hal’s passion for boating and spending time on the water started at a very young age with his parents on the Connecticut shoreline, cruising the waters of Long Island Sound. The memories that were created along with the strong family bonds have continued with his wife Missy and their three children; Liza, Sarah and Dan; his two son-in-laws; Matt and Gavin and he is proud to say his grandson Hunter who loves nothing more than being on the boat with “Pop-Pop.”
If Hal was asked if he prefers sailing to motoring, he would smile and say “any boat on the water… it’s all good!” As a young boy, Hal and his family enjoyed a 27’ wooden lapstrake Grady White sport fish, which offered comfort at the dock as well as on the water. As a youngster Hal was often spotted cruising the waters around Cedar Island in Clinton, CT in his Old Town dinghy that had a British Seagull outboard motor. When Missy and Hal started their family they both agreed that one of the most important things would be to “waterproof” the kids and teach them to love and respect the water. Their early days were spent sailing on the family’s 28’ Hunter sailboat up and down the Connecticut shoreline and over to Long Island. As the family grew “space and speed” were becoming a requirement. So as the family grew so did the size of the boats ranging from an 18’ Larson with a cuddy cabin and port-o-potty to a 28’ Fairbanks Trawler, “The Mistress.” Next came the 33’ Egg Harbor, “Another Affair,” and currently a 36’ Grand Banks Trawler, “The Grand Affair”. Hal smiles and says his wife was always in charge of naming the boats and her motto always was “the boat will always be the only other woman in his life.” Missy and Hal cherish all of the time spent with the family on the boat whether it be just hanging at the dock or heading to their favorite family destination; Block Island, RI.
Hal’s career started at Stanley Tools in New Britain, CT selling and marketing to key accounts for 17 years. After getting caught up in the “downsize” of the hardware industry during the mid-nineties, Hal went to work for Milwaukee Electric Tool for the next 10 years. The corporate structure and manufacturing went through so many drastic changes that Hal no longer believed in what he was selling. When the corporate mentality put the bottom line ahead of people and their relationships, Hal realized it was time for a career change. With the support and encouragement from his wife who said, “Do something you love and are passionate about!” the obvious next step was the marine industry.
Since 2006 it can be said that Hal is one of the lucky ones! He truly loves his profession in yacht sales and he has proven it in so many ways. Hal began making the transition to yacht sales part-time in 2005 and became a full-time employee with Brewer Yacht Sales in 2006 and currently manages the Branford, CT sales office. The passion of finding just the right boat for people is so rewarding to Hal; his success has come from the many satisfied customers that he has served over the years, whether it’s time for them to “move up” or if they spread the word what a great experience it was to work with such a professional and knowledgeable broker. When it comes to selling your boat or helping you find your dreamboat, Hal does his research and follows through with every step in the process.
Since 2006, Hal has consistently turned heads not only at Brewer Yacht Sales but also throughout the entire marine industry. He has worked hard and has earned the respect of many surveyors, marine technicians, marine craftsmen and yard managers. Hal is a man of his word and will always put the customer first. Hal has earned many multiple awards over the past years ranging from Team Spirit and Most Boats Sold, as well as the coveted Broker of the Year/Top Producer award consecutively from 2007-2014. Of all of the awards that could be achieved the greatest one is that of the Satisfied Customer. Hal has served on the YBAA Board since 2009 and as Vice President for the 2014-2015 term. Hal is proud to be moving up as YBAA President for the 2015-2016 term and looks forward to working with the Board and YBAA staff. He encourages all of Yacht Sales Professionals to get involved in YBAA and to become CPYB certified.
YBAA News: Who would you say has influenced you in your life so far?
Hal Slater: I would say my dad. He was a salesman, he sold steel. He inspired me when I was young and impressionable with his work ethic. Many had told me that if I turned out to be half the man of my dad, I would do all right; they all thought very highly of him. He taught me early on to treat people the way you want to be treated.
YBAA News: What was the best/worst experience you have had in your professional life? What did you learn from this experience?
Hal Slater: Oh my gosh, there are a lot of them. There have been a lot of good experiences. I would say the one that stands out was a deal last year where I helped a family (a husband, wife and two children) pursue their dream boat; I had helped this gentleman’s other family members, including his father, buy and sell boats in the past. They started out working within a certain budget and in the end we were able to consummate a deal on a boat that exceeded their expectations. They ended up getting much more than what they thought they could for the money. What really floored me was the “Thank You” card that I got from them; including their kids, they each wrote something special, it just blew me away.
YBAA News: So that is what stokes the fire in you?
Hal Slater: It sure does. And to be honest with you, the worst experiences are short-lived. I believe in building a bridge and getting over it and moving on. I’m a very positive person. I guess I could say that one of the worst things that could happen in this profession would be seller’s remorse—when you get to the finish line and you’ve done all your work and brought a buyer to the table and the seller decides they don’t want to sell their boat! That’s happened several times.
YBAA News: What is your business philosophy?
Hal Slater: I guess that would be: You have to exceed your client’s expectations, all the time.
YBAA News: That’s great! I would love that; I would love to work with you if that is your philosophy! Now to expand on that, why should a customer work with you to sell or buy their next yacht?
Hal Slater: I would say that it will be a very gratifying experience. I will make it that way. I treat everyone with honesty, integrity and respect and it should all be a positive event. That’s my goal, to make it a positive experience.
YBAA News: So, having been in the industry for a little bit, what advice would you give up-and-comers or people who are interested in becoming a broker?
Hal Slater: Well, I think they need to have experience or study sales or marketing. They need to be a people-person, they need to enjoy interacting with people and they need to be good listeners. I would say it’s a tough profession to break into but be persistent! Seek employment in the marine industry so you get a feel for the boating lifestyle and once you can live it and talk it, it makes it that much easier to relate to your clients.
It’s a great profession, it’s very rewarding and I would encourage anybody who wants to be in sales that this is one of the best jobs they could possibly have.
YBAA News: What are the biggest challenges facing the yachting industry? What are ways to mitigate these challenges, in your opinion?
Hal Slater: One is to keep boating affordable. There are some states that don’t charge sales tax, property tax or other expenses for someone that purchases a boat. By granting those tax and expense incentives, these states are opening up job opportunities. I think we need to continue to lobby with legislators to keep taxes and expenses low, as well as keep at bay regulations within the marine industry that make it difficult to keep marinas open.
I think it is important to keep our younger people interested and educate our younger people that boating creates a great family bond. We need to get young people in the boating lifestyle, whether its parents who do this with their children or other educational programs and clubs that lend access to being on the water. We need to keep young people aware of what a great lifestyle this is, and by keeping it accessible and affordable, I think we can address those major challenges.
YBAA News: On behalf of YBAA, we are very excited to welcome you as our newly elected Board President. What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
Hal Slater: I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Board members and YBAA staff in support of our membership and mission statement, and certainly looking forward to joining my industry peers in the promotion and preservation of Recreational Boating.
YBAA News: What would you like to accomplish during your term?
Hal Slater: My targeted accomplishments include developing a YBAA Yacht Sales Professional educational training program, increasing industry endorsement and sponsorships of the CPYB program, increasing CPYB broker certifications and increasing membership.