High-end work on the high seas - Making the deadline

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“I met with [Griffin] and his captain in Los Angeles,” says Greenwood. “The [stateroom] was originally a media room. We took everything away on the main level because he was getting older. We ended up with a master stateroom, new bathroom and closet. It was the first time I’d worked for Mr. Griffin, and it only came about based on the captain’s recommendation.”

Occasionally, Greenwood will place an advertisement in a boating magazine. Otherwise, all of his other marketing efforts are devoted to Yorkshire’s Web site, www.yorkshirewoodwork.com, which features some of the company’s best work.

Making the deadline
The critical component of landing a job is the ability to complete it as scheduled, says Greenwood. A yacht that is not used as a private vessel is most always used as a charter, commanding as much as $350,000 a week. Therefore, it costs the owner a lot of money to have it out of service. This is what makes the interior yacht furnishing business fiercely competitive.

“If I can’t get it done, someone else will do it. But we are fortunate enough to be regarded as one of the best shops in town.”

A typical workweek is not something employees can count on. Greenwood referred to a job he completed in fall 2007 on the M/Y Polar Star, a Russian yacht. He and his crew worked on the project seven days a week — 60 hours straight at one point — over two months to meet deadline.

“Many times our installation is delayed due to holdups with other trades (A/C, plumbing and electrical). This pushes our schedule back and we lose precious time to complete our installation since the deadline does not change with the delay.

“If something is the wrong color, or if we fall behind on something, we have to work through the night because the boat might be leaving the next day. Fortunately, we’ve always managed to complete the projects on time.”

Greenwood has devised a time-saving system in which he will fly out to meet clients, measure the vessel, then start designing and building at the shop.

Yorkshire uses many types of materials and wood species, including mappa burl, Carpathian elm burl, bubinga, pear wood, and domestics such as cherry and maple. The shop doesn’t bother to keep much inventory because Greenwood first has to see what materials are used in a yacht’s interior, then purchase lumber and veneer accordingly.

“That’s why it’s so important to fly out to meet the vessel, take photographs, and start work right away. We usually try to get as much lead time as possible of the arrival of the vessel.

“Cost is secondary; the clients need the best materials. So if you start out with the best materials, your end product is the best. Weight restrictions require most of our work to be done with veneer. I would say about 70 percent is veneer.”

Projects take anywhere from two weeks to a year to complete.

The right shop
Greenwood moved to his 3,000-sq.-ft. shop, located in a cluster of two-story commercial bay warehouses, about six years ago. He has four full-time employees, including Gibby Winsor from the Isle of Wight off the coast of England; Noel Morgan from the southern Caribbean island of Bequia; Nathan Wrigley from Poole in Dorset; England; and Miguel Carcione from Argentina.

“We work as a cohesive unit to finish each project. I do not assign a specific task to any one person. All employees are capable of completing a piece from start to finish. I may design and give specific measurements, materials needed and guidance. This is essential to keep a project moving. Production cannot stop because we have to wait for someone to finish their part of a project.