1. Tell us about how Dockside got started?
In 1975, Lila Rosen arrived in the Caribbean after years of working on charter and private yachts. She had a unique skill set and knowledge of the needs of yacht owners, crew, and guests at a time when the industry was just starting. She founded Dockside Management in 1990, and I joined as a partner in 1994 with experience from sailing and the cruise ship industry.
2. The industry has grown tremendously over the last 20 years. How has Dockside changed as a result?
As traffic grew in the region, we decided to move from our original head office in Philipsburg closer to the yachts. It was then that we opened two centrally located lagoon side offices first in Simpson Bay and then at the Yacht Club Isle del Sol. This was a strategic move and one that has proved helpful for us as we are in close range to yachts on both the French and Dutch sides of the Island. We still maintain a small office facility in Philipsburg to service our many very large yachts who use the commercial port.
3. You are a well-known figure in the industry and involved in many aspects of the industry. How did it all start?
While I was working in St. Maarten as a shoreside excursion provider for the cruise lines in the early ‘90s, I had the opportunity to assist a local agent when I was going on board the ships for our own business and learned a bit about how agency services work for yachts. In December 1995, a yacht captain came looking for someone to help him with some logistics needs for a 5-week charter, and I had connections through the cruise industry. At that time, there were no solely dedicated yacht agents in the Caribbean. Cruise ship agents mostly worked the phones and fax machines and sold set packages with tour companies, so I saw there was a need for yacht specific services. There were not a lot of big yachts back then, so I turned to my business partner and told her about my vision that this yachting thing will get really big in St. Maarten one day. In the meantime, we didn’t quit our day jobs.
4. Tell us about your first clients?
Our first big project was to organize recreation activities for the crew members aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, and that provided a steep learning curve for our company and taught us useful problem-solving skills as we had to satisfy the needs of widely differing stakeholders. The VIP yacht & guest services division was soon formed in response to requests from a number of megayacht captains who needed a Caribbean agent that could make arrangements and coordinate logistics throughout the Islands for them.
5. Tell us about a highlight from this year?
It is always special to have a new captain come in to my office and say, “I don’t know if you remember me, but years back I was a deckhand on a 60-meter yacht and am now a captain of a 35-meter yacht, and I would like you to look after us.” Year in, year out this is always a highlight for us to hear.
We are also proud to be mentoring several captains who have stepped ashore and started an agency in places we really need them. Being able to pass clients on to them and watch their businesses grow is just too cool.
Cover photo credit:caribbeanandco.com