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Worth Avenue Yachts - Celebrating 10 Years of Growth

Written by Sam Fortescue

There’s the deep, throaty roar of a vintage Harley in the background as I speak to the founders of Worth Avenue Yachts. But Michael Mahan is no hardened biker. This successful yacht broker is touring through the Rocky Mountains with two of his motorhead colleagues, heading for a rendezvous with Brian Tansey in Park City, Utah, his co-founder at Worth. A business trip, it is not. “I’m doing around 300 miles a day with our Seattle partner, Ray and our Newport partner, Jonathan.” Michael tells me with a quick grin. “It’s all mountains; we must have done about 700 turns today.” I ask him what he rides, and he hesitates. “It’s a Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX.” I must look blank, because he continues: “You know those bikes you see going past at 150mph? It’s one of those.” Then he quickly adds. “We’re super safe, though. I have to say that with Brian on the line.”

The joshing goes back and forth for a moment. They’re like that, these two: totally complementary. When I ask them to pinpoint each other’s strong points, there’s no hesitation. “Michael has an amazing ability to defuse sticky situations,” says Brian. “When you’re in the quagmire, generally when you have a buyer and seller at odds with each other - he has a way of keeping everybody calm.” Brian is the organized one who takes care of the numbers and keeps the business ticking over in the background. But he’s also something of an alternative thinker. “He thinks out of the box when the rest of us hit the wall,” says Michael. “He has great ideas.” The chemistry between the two is perhaps one of the keys to the runaway success that they’ve made of Worth Avenue Yachts. Now in only its tenth year, the brokerage business has gone from start up to industry leader and now houses 46 people, with locations in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Monaco, Seattle, San Diego and Newport. It all began in 2011 when Michael walked into then-boss Brian’s office to hand in his notice. Far from trying to dissuade him, Brian agreed with his sentiments and they quit together. Appreciating each other’s working styles, they set out to look for a brokerage that would take them both. “The plan soon morphed into ‘let’s set up our own store’ with our own business model – more ethical, more professional.,” explains Brian. Betting big and aiming bigger, they gambled on a move to the rarified surroundings of Palm Beach. “After all, it’s one of the wealthiest zip codes in America.” They started to build a team that would share leads and information to benefit each client. “We wanted to be really careful about who we brought in; that everybody gelled and grasped our unique team-based approach.,” Michael explains. “To this day, no one in our firm has titles. Our sales meetings are just a huge wealth of sharing knowledge.” This philosophy must be working because Worth lands the majority of its sales from repeat customers. And they’re not small sales, either: among the scores of sales, the 257ft Abeking & Rasmussen Eminence (asking price $80M) stands out. Then there’s the build of the stunning 223ft Benetti Seasense and a 180ft Newcastle to name just two. Both charter management and charter retail are booming as well. From the beginning, Brian and Michael werXe determined to offer a physical shopfront to potential clients and chose the most exclusive retail street in Palm Beach (Worth Avenue – hence the name). “We had a walk-in for whom we built a 68m Benetti,” says Michael. “His wife was one door down in Gucci and he came to look at something for himself.”

Not that it was an easy deal – it took real experience to get over the line. But then Brian and Michael grew up around boats and have worked all their lives in the marine industry. They both started out in shipyards, albeit at opposite ends of the country, and Brian’s first job in Florida saw him commuting to work in a Chris-Craft 31 Scorpion – perhaps the boat equivalent of driving a Mustang. Now, after a decade of working for themselves, they’re dreaming bigger – perhaps a 45m Alloy Yachts for Michael and an 85ft Princess for Brian. “Brian’s could be my chase boat,” Michael jokes. It seems clear that their gamble has paid off. “We’ve always had the confidence in ourselves,” he adds.

You‘ll be able to see that confidence in person at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from October 27 to 31. The team will be there with a selection of the show’s biggest yachts, ready to service all your boating needs. Find them on the face dock by Hall of Fame and Bahia Mar. In the meantime, the brokerage list is bulging with exceptional boats for sale, ranging from up to 300ft. And there’s a selection of the finest yachts available to charter as well. Backing it all is the experience of one of the broadest and most collaborative teams in the business. If they can’t find your dream boat, then she probably hasn’t been built yet - which is also something they can help you with.

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