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The decision to build a new trawler, to include your own input on details and features, modifying an existing model or building an entirely new design is incredibly rewarding. A new build costs more and takes longer, but allows you as the buyer to get the latest thinking and to build the trawler to better suit your personal needs. Make no mistake, trawler brands primary and most important business is selling and building new boats, the used boat / brokerage aspect (often times as trade ins) is regarded by most as “icing on the cake”.
The decision to build a new trawler, to include your own input on details and features, modifying an existing model or building an entirely new design is incredibly rewarding. A new trawler build costs more and takes longer, but allows you as the buyer to get the latest thinking and to build the trawler to better suit your personal needs. Make no mistake, trawler manufactures primary and most important business is selling and building new boats, the used boat / brokerage aspect (often times as trade ins) is regarded by most builders as “icing on the cake”.
It all starts with a fresh design and a yard to build the tooling. There are several ways that new trawler designs come to market, typically they are a collaborative partnership between two firms, one a design engineering /sales marketing company that owns the brand and the other firm the physical construction facility – this is, for example, how Nordhavn and Kadey-Krogen do business. It is rarer these days to have the boat building company also do the sales and marketing of the end product – as an example this is how it is done by Northern Marine.
To develop a new model a naval architect conceives a new profile and interior layout and outlines the construction method as well as identifies the equipment to be included. A set of standard specifications is developed so that the yard knows how to quote the wholesale price to the marketing arm for a trawler completed to these “standard” specifications. Options are also discussed (Will a flybridge be included? Single or twin engine?, etc.) and a set of factory options is created. With a drawing, specifications and pricing the new model is ready to be introduced to the boating public.
Most builders realize that a buyer will not likely walk into the office with a checkbook and leave later that day having signed up to build a new trawler. Many trawler companies have a production schedule that shows how many of each model are under construction with start dates and yard completion dates, and will sit down with you to determine which hull slot would be best (normally it is the next available hull!). A “letter of intent” with a deposit (usually refundable) is put in place to reserve a hull number/production slot. This LOI provides a reasonable amount of time to work through the details of the order and allow for pricing to be completed. The goal is to develop a purchase agreement that you are comfortable signing as the buyer so the construction phase can begin.
Upon signing a purchase agreement a series of payments commences, each builder does it differently, some ask for as little as 20% up front with the balance due upon completion, other spread out 5 -10% payments during the build payable as progress milestones are achieved.
Once the trawler is completed and turned over to you as the new owner a warranty clock begins and a good warranty backed by a strong company is one of the biggest advantages of building a new trawler. Good builders are always improving, they don’t rest on their laurels and so if you study a brand you will see the evolution of their thinking and subtle improvements based on boat use out on the water and good ideas from clients and employees.
The business of building new trawlers in today’s market can get pretty top heavy in overhead – management, design, engineering, project management, accounting, administration, IT, commissioning, sales, etc. The top trawler companies have dozens of employees on the sales/marketing/administrative side and hundreds of works at the yard to fulfill the construction side. This is a big business that depends on new orders to keep the pipeline rolling.
For two decades I was involved in the construction of new cruising sailboats and trawlers. It is incredibly gratifying to work through the details with a client to make sure everything they want is priced and included in the contract. Once the dotted line is signed, the fun shifts to communication during construction and I particularly enjoyed visiting the yard to check progress. It is very satisfying to see the completed boat march through commissioning and ultimately take off to chase sunrises and sunsets. My favorite moments are those shared when we are finally underway for the first few hours, with the excitement of finally enjoying the finished boat balanced by the anticipation of what might happen…
With the hard learned lessons of several dozen new build trawlers the experience and understanding of the new build process has become one of my specialties. As an independent, not aligned with any particular builder, my unbiased services are available to work with clients interested in any new trawler build project. If you are going to build a new trawler there are definitely some key things you need to be aware of and my involvement with your build will help save you a lot of heart ache, headaches and money.