Winn Willard: Bringing Venerable Designs Forward

By Eric Haun
Friday, October 18, 2013
Winn Willard

Hunt Yachts, founded by Raymond C. Hunt in the mid 20th century, is probably best known for its “deep-V” hull, a feature long revered as its signature. The business originated with the design of speedcruisers and motor yachts, evolving into military and commercial markets. Winn Willard, Director of Hunt Yachts and Vice President of Hunt Associates, has been with the company since 1970 and is responsible for some of Hunt’s most influential designs. Mr. Willard spoke with Maritime Reporter about Hunt’s tradition, industry presence and outlook on future building markets.   
 

What advantages do you reap from having three companies under the Hunt name?

    We’ve worked hard to expand the Hunt brand while continuing to carry out Ray’s life mission to always be innovative. Ray was never afraid to try a design just because it was different. To Ray, that was all the more reason to give it a shot.
When we decided to start Hunt Yachts, we had a beautifully designed Surfhunter. Still, some thought a design firm would never succeed at also building yachts. It was a risk. Today, Hunt Yachts offers 18 highly-customizable models, including day cruisers, coastal cruisers and express motoryachts. It broadened our customer-base, created a new line of business, and more importantly, offered additional revenue. The same is true for Hunt Marine Services. We saw a gap in the market to bring the same elite customer experience offered in our design and boat building process to the service sector. Creating a new business is a risk, but ironically, those risks have now diversified our business, allow the Hunt brand to grow in a time other brands were forced to fold.

What benefits do you gain from designing in both commercial and consumer markets? Are there drawbacks?


    From a business perspective, a major benefit is having a diversified client base allowing us continuity. We have never had a layoff. Quite often the commercial and the pleasure sides are on different business cycles. Then there are concepts, details and practices that one sees in each market that can be applied in the other. For example, a major draw for our larger pleasure craft customers, such as the Hunt 44, 52 or 68 Express Motoryacht, is knowing that the hull on their yacht is virtually identical to the hull on the Hunt-designed pilot boats servicing our ports. Pilot boats must perform at a high level, regardless of the weather conditions, which provides our consumer customers with peace of mind to tackle foul weather conditions. On the downside I see a lot of opportunities worldwide that we can’t always chase or concentrate on. There are only so many hours in a day.

What portion of your business is commercial?


    Right now, about 65-75%. There are signs of a comeback in the consumer markets, but it is very spotty and not strong yet. The commercial side is also slowing, in particular the military and quasi-military segment. We’ve been very fortunate to develop a reputation for reliability and dependability in the safety and security and pilot boat communities, in particular. Hunt pilot boats are used in more than two dozen of the busiest ports throughout the nation. Law enforcement agencies, the Coast Guard and Navy also use many Hunt designed boats to patrol oceans, rivers, lakes and even war zones.

What do you consider to be the most interesting commercial project you’ve recently worked on?


    Probably the two sizes of new, very fast and multifunctional patrol response boats for the NYPD. The first of them will be launched later this year. They will be capable of 40 knots, use waterjet propulsion and carry all the latest high-tech gear for disaster and terrorism response. Although we are unable to talk about it in detail (for obvious reasons) our extensive work in the homeland defense sector over the years is quite exciting.
 

Briefly discuss your business since the global economic trouble of 2008. How do the coming 12-24 months look?

    The pleasure boat market ground to a standstill in 2008-2009. Many companies are gone. Survivors are half their former size, and there is still too much capacity, so more may go yet. However, Hunt Yachts has actually tripled its business since 2009. We’ve used a zero-debt business model and an investor-backed system for rolling out new models to escape the crippling overhead which doomed other boat builders. At Hunt Design, we survived being small and flexible, the benefit of being in both the consumer and commercial markets. We had a big surge in the patrol boat market when the Navy, Coast Guard and local law enforcement geared up with new boats filling a long neglected void. Now that market is well satiated, so it will be mostly replacements and service going forward. We believe this will be an opportunity for Hunt Marine Services which further demonstrates the advantage of being such a diversified business.

Economic, legislative, competitive – looking ahead, what do you consider to be the biggest challenges to your business, and why?

    The worldwide general economic malaise has left little enthusiasm for fun of new business. To overcome this, Hunt must continue to innovate across all three business entities. Whether it be maximizing our commercial opportunities at Hunt Design, offering unique, owner-centric programs such as our two-year Carefree Purchase Program at Hunt Yachts, or finding new ways to add value for our customers at Hunt Marine Services, the most successful companies always tend to be ones where “innovation” is more than just a buzzword. Ray Hunt was always up for a challenge, designing and racing sailboats and powerboats in a style that no one could ever imagine at the time. Hunt will continue to look for new ways to carry on this tradition.

Winn Willard, Director of Hunt Yachts and Vice President of Hunt Associates, graduated from Babson College with a degree in Business Administration and Economics. He studied naval architecture at the University of Michigan, is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and has been with Hunt Associates since 1970.
 


(As published in the October 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Gazprom Transgaz Ufa Organizes Arts Festival

Over 200 healthy children and children with disabilities from Bashkortostan as well as the Volga Region participated in the Breaking the Barriers second interregional children’s arts festival,

President Pryor Retires from ExxonMobil Chemicals

Stephen D. Pryor, president, ExxonMobil Chemical Company and vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has elected to retire on January 1, 2015, after more than 44 years of service.

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Shipbuilding

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Everett College to Launch New Research Boat

Everett Community College’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) will launch its new research vesel on November 22 with a celebration at 11 a.m. at the Port of Everett.

Video: Reefer RoRo Ship Design Rebooted

Expanding on the Reefer RoRo Ship design release in September last year, naval architects group Knud E. Hansen A/S has continued the development of the new Reefer RoRo Ship design with version II.

Workboats

Pair of ASD Tugboats Delivered to Keppel-Smit

The ASD tugs KST Passion and KST Pride were were delivered to their owner, Keppel-Smit Towage Pte. Ltd of Singapore in October 2014. The two vessels are the first

Ice to Close Upper Mississippi from Nov. 20

The shipping season on the upper Mississippi River will end on Thursday as ice surrounding locks and dams near Minnesota's Twin Cities forced the earliest winter

RSC Bio Solutions: SVGP Compliant Fluids & Cleaners

RSC Bio Solutions said that its EnviroLogic Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EALs), including hydraulic, stern tube and thruster oils, and SAFECARE cleaners

Navy

USS Oscar Austin Deploys to 6th fleet

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) departed Naval Station Norfolk Nov. 21 for a deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

Steven Palazzo Visits HII, Newport

Huntington Ingalls Industries today hosted Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., for a tour of the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division. Palazzo represents the fourth district of Mississippi,

Australia: Maritime SAR in Asia Pacific a Priority

Defense force personnel from Australia are in China for Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2014 which begins today. The exercise aims to enhance coordination and cooperation between Australia,

Naval Architecture

Video: Reefer RoRo Ship Design Rebooted

Expanding on the Reefer RoRo Ship design release in September last year, naval architects group Knud E. Hansen A/S has continued the development of the new Reefer RoRo Ship design with version II.

CSCL’s New Containership Sets Two World Records

Largest boxship undergoes tests, powered by largest engine China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd. (CSCL) ran sea trials from October 17-20 on its newbuilding,

Fulcrum Buys BMT Snyek Technologies

BMT Group announced the sale of BMT Syntek Technologies Inc to Fulcrum Corporation. Fulcrum Corporation, based in Arlington, VA., providies customized services

Coast Guard

7 Rescued from Sinking Freighter Near Haiti

Seven crewmembers were rescued after their 100-foot coastal freighter began taking on water and sank approximately 45 miles north off of Cap Haitien, Haiti, Friday.

Update: Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

An explosion occurred aboard a production platform Thursday at West Delta 105, operated by Fieldwood Energy, resulting in one fatality and three injured. The Bureau

Seaspan Shipyard's Prompt Response to Canadian Coast Guard

Seaspan Shipyard’s long-standing relationship with the Canadian Coast Guard was proudly showcased in recent days, with simultaneous repair and maintenance work

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pipelines Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.4932 sec (2 req/sec)