Since its inception in 1997, Hargrave Custom Yachts has been in the hands of Michael Joyce, a longtime figure in the yachting industry. Joyce is spinning it off in the coming months. It will therefore be an independent company, which will further seek a business partner, to keep growing.
While an investor does not yet exist, Joyce plans to sell 50-percent ownership. Currently, his family trust holds full ownership.
Hargrave Custom Yachts gets its name from the late Jack Hargrave. A renowned naval architect responsible for more than 7,000 vessels of all kinds, he died in 1996. Joyce worked for Hargrave from 1977 to 1981, when he left to establish the brokerage house Colonial Yacht Sales. He then began working with Hargrave again in the mid-1990s on a book about his life when the designer suddenly died. Joyce was convinced that Hargrave’s legacy could transition into a yacht-building brand. He also believed the legacy could parlay into a personal touch with customers. He therefore acquired the rights to the design office from Hargrave’s widow. “We literally could launch a new project in hours because of all the design, engineering, and proven test data that we already had in hand,” he explains.
While it wasn’t hours, the first Hargrave motoryacht saw delivery in 1999. Hound Dog—known today as Boxes II—measured 87 feet (26.76 meters). This sky-lounge motoryacht led to additional, and larger, Hargrave Custom Yachts projects. To date, nearly 100 motoryachts and megayachts bear the brand name. In addition, in October, Hargrave Custom Yachts stated it has more than 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of orders in build. Among them is the G-120 (above), which departed for U.S. shores this week. This total puts it among the top 20 builders worldwide in terms of order books. Furthermore, the brand enjoys strong repeat business from customers. Perhaps not coincidentally, the largest-ever Hargrave is currently in build, for a three-time customer. LOA: 184 feet (56 meters).
Joyce says that when he realized Hargrave Custom Yachts landed in that top 20, it was time for change. Most of the other shipyards, he explains, belong to wealthy individuals or large corporations. These, he adds, have spurred their growths. “When I looked at the competition, I realized that my personal passion for being a small family business was actually holding everyone in this company back,” Joyce says.
While Joyce actually stepped down as president in 2007, in favor of Michael DiCondina, he has remained the full-share owner. He credits “Mike D,” as customers and vendors refer to DiCondina, with strong leadership. “Now he has the company poised to expand into even larger yachts,” Joyce asserts. These include the above-mentioned 184.
Furthermore, Joyce credits the Gong family, owners of Kha Shing Enterprises, with the brand’s success. While other shipyards are involved, too, this Taiwanese yard is responsible for most of the yachts. “When I first went to the yard, I was impressed with both their facility and the unique skill set they had developed,” Joyce says, meaning adapting to custom yachts. “Most of all, I was impressed by the Gong family and their integrity.” Indeed. “I never had a contract with the yard,” Joyce continues. “The president and founder and I just relied on our handshake at the Miami boat show. Now, 20 years later, we’ve built 95 custom yacht projects together, with more on the drawing board.”