In less than 30 years, Horizon Yachts has grown to become an international powerhouse. It has yacht and megayacht buyers in the United States, Australia, Russia, and more. It offers seven different series, comprised of yachts from 46 to 163 feet. John Lu may not have envisioned all of these exact details back when he started Horizon in 1987. But, he has always kept his eyes firmly fixed on taking advantage of growth opportunities. In fact, Horizon is now the fifth-largest custom-yacht builder worldwide in terms of volume. In our Leadership Series discussion, John Lu shares how Horizon has reached this point. He reveals how important Horizon’s Open House events are for literally showing clients what goes into each yacht. And, he explains why being the only Asian builder in the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) is also important.
Megayacht News: How do you determine what new styles and sizes to add? Is it mostly based on feedback from current customers, or do you also research a lot of what is going on overall in the yachting market?
John Lu: All the above. Feedback from our owners and dealers is imperative to make sure we listen to the market and react accordingly; but equally as important is trying to be ahead of the curve when it comes to product development. To do this we have to be proactive and research what may be the trend of the future…if we can do that and be successful, we will continue to be a leader in the industry. Horizon would rather lead trends than follow them.
Megayacht News: Do a lot of customers attend the Open House events that you host at the shipyard? What are the primary goals of the Open House?
John Lu: Yes we do, and we have clients from around the globe (Japan, USA, Europe, Australia, Russia) that attend the Open House, which is held every two years. The Open House event is a great way to bring people to Horizon to fully understand the depth of the company and what goes into a Horizon yacht. With 24 naval architects, 800 employees, 4 shipyards, and 27 acres of manufacturing, seeing is believing. We find owners and potential clients come to the shipyard and are amazed at what they see and the word spreads, equally so with the media, suppliers, and dealers. The more people who come to the shipyard, the more knowledgeable people there are on the Horizon product…not all are buyers but all of them have a voice That is the important thing, get the word out about Horizon and what we can offer.
Megayacht News: Horizon enjoys a good deal of success among American buyers. What are some of the key differences in what American buyers want and how they use their yachts compared to their counterparts in other countries?
John Lu: U.S. owners use their boats for more time and in more varied environments than many other buyers/markets. The U.S. North/South boating philosophy means that many of the boats are used in the Caribbean or Bahamas in the winter and then head North to the Great Lakes or North East for the summer. Virtually all-year round use is not unusual. This means more time on the boat and the need for stronger, better-built boats that have been designed with easy maintenance in mind and redundancy as main criteria.
Megayacht News: Among the megayacht models you offer, are there any in particular that seem to be the most popular, or most promising? What makes them that way?
John Lu: The new P136, built on a 28-foot beam with a GRT of 460 tons, is attracting a great deal of attention at present. This sort of interior volume is incredible on a 136-foot vessel, and Horizon’s flexibility in creating interior design and decor that suits a client’s lifestyle is unparalleled. It truly does mean “no compromise is necessary.” Also with dockage being scarce during the season, both in the Med and in the U.S., having that interior volume and exterior deck space in a “moderate” size range makes practical use of the boat far more effective. For anything over the 140-foot size, dockage is one of the main issues when cruising, so the 136 offers the increased volume in a bit more manageable size.
Megayacht News: Many megayacht builders see rising interest among Asian buyers, as well as ones from Latin America. Where do you see the best growth opportunities for Horizon?
John Lu: The Asian market, especially the Taiwanese market, is just waiting to be explored. The critical thing to understand is that the wealthy segment in Taiwan are not familiar with yachting and what it can mean to them and their families. Therefore, educating the buyers and potential clients is key to developing many Asian markets. Latin America has always been a goal area for Horizon to establish a foothold within, and we will continue to move in that direction. We are currently looking at the Latin American shows and evaluating how best to partner in the region to maximize our exposure and get our brand and image across to the market.\
Megayacht News: Horizon is the only Asian builder in SYBAss. How important is this to you? Does your membership have an impact on your ability to reach people who are new to yachting?
John Lu: SYBAss is fast becoming a strong voice within the international maritime industry, not only in yachting but also they have a voice in the IMO, which in turn gives Horizon access to the important issues and a way to contribute to the future of our industry. SYBAss has an important role as a communicator, and by being informed of what issues are at hand and what we need to do to address them—whether it is in a new build design or addressing emissions or regulations—it allows us to be prepared. SYBAss are also working hard to bring new clients into yachting with a combined approach from all members and a coordinated marketing program that will be seen in the near future.