Member Profile: High Seas Yacht Service March 28, 2017
When he was just nine years old, Chris Brown moved to Coral Springs, Florida with his family, consisting of three kids, his parents, a dog, and a cat. Having lived in Massachusetts, New York, and Bermuda before becoming a permanent Floridian, Chris was happy his father chose to put down roots in Coral Springs, where he attended middle and high school. He left to study computer science at an engineering school in upstate New York, but found himself back in South Florida, scratching his head and wondering what to do with his life.
He found his answer one morning in 1982 while reading the business section of the Sun Sentinel newspaper, where a story about a company building racing sailboats caught his eye and inspired him to jump into his Volkswagen Beetle and drive to the small factory in Palm Beach Gardens. The company, owned by former Navy commander, William W. Soverel, specialized in building high-class 30’ to 50’ racing sailboats, which was an established passion of Chris’. He introduced himself to Commander Soverel and explained that he was there for a job. When the commander asked him if he knew how to grind fiberglass, Chris admitted he did not, but insisted he was a quick study and a hard worker, at which point he was outfitted with a paper suit and handed a grinder.
At a time in the 1980s when a young person just starting out could still afford to rent a place on the beach, Chris moved to Juno Beach to be close to the factory. He then spent the next six years learning everything he possibly could about how to build boats. When Commander Soverel died and the company was sold to North Carolina-based, Tartan Marine, he declined an offer to move out of Florida and instead chose to manage the Soverel service yard in Palm Beach Gardens, known today as Soverel Harbour Marina.
Eventually, Chris wanted to try his hand at something else. He was approached by an individual whom he considered to be a business mentor, who offered him a job in what would become an international electronic security supplier. He accepted and went to work for Sensormatic Electronics in Deerfield Beach. During his 17-year career at Sensormatic, Chris held numerous executive positions, highly focused on customers, sales and marketing, and mergers/acquisitions. He learned the importance of delivering great customer service and building relationships with his customers and the long-term value those traits brought to the business, which became the cornerstone for Chris’ approach to every business venture. He left Sensormatic in 2000 when it was sold to a large conglomerate and the internal company dynamic changed dramatically. He then spent a handful of years with an Israeli security company that offered solutions for detecting counterfeited products and goods, like cigarettes, brake pads, and clothing. After 24 years of near-constant business travel, Chris became dissatisfied with spending most of his time in airports, hotels, rental cars, and trains, and longed for the simplicity of a life at home.
He set out on a quest to acquire a small company and discovered High Seas Yacht Service, whose owner was ready to retire and move out of state. In January of 2009, Chris purchased, and became president of both High Seas Yacht Service and its sister company, Straight Line Marine, located at Lauderdale Marine Center. High Seas Yacht Service eliminates running gear vibrations by addressing everything in-house from the motor mounts to the rudders and Straight Line Marine is a machine shop that does the shaft work for High Seas Yacht Service, as well as outside vendors, straightening, machining and reconditioning shafts, fabricating new couplings and bearings, and other functions related to running gear service. Four years ago, Chris formed High Seas Hydraulics dedicated to marine hydraulics on 100’ to 250’ yachts to further complement the service offerings for his customers.
Chris believes his background and experience of concentrating on customers and service is what has allowed him to triple the size of High Seas since he first acquired the business. He is now in a position to expand his operations to branch locations in Florida and beyond.
In addition to his zeal for growing business, Chris also has a passion for his 26 employees who work out of Lauderdale Marine Center. He is proud of the very capable people working in his companies. With the planned expansion of the business, he is now aggressively looking for five or six more employees as the April 1st opening of his first new location at the Rybovich North yard approaches. He loves hiring talented people, teaching them to become skilled craftsman, and providing a source of income that affords a good living. As Chris keeps his eye on trends in the yachting industry, he hopes to continue to provide hydraulic and running gear services to customers up and down the Southeast U.S. – as long as he can spend most of his time at home with Lee, his better half of 28 years, and never has to wait in another dreaded TSA line.