It's no surprise that Merle Wood is arguably the most successful yacht broker this industry has ever seen. After all, this business has been in his blood since he was a child. At the age of four, Wood moved from Massachusetts to Fort Lauderdale with his family in 1961. At that time, his father purchased a 57' boat - which the family would live on for the next six years - and began brokering yachts. After growing up in the boat business, Wood went to college with the idea of continuing to law school, however, he decided to take a sabbatical to go back to the industry that would give him a vast array of contacts in the business world. Today, Merle Wood is still on sabbatical, and having more fun than he ever could have imagined. He says, "Now, the only place I'm ever in is where the sun is shining 24/7 and people are relaxing, enjoying their toys." These high net worth individuals are Wood's clients, and he is quite skilled in working with them. "The yachts are my business but they're my client's pleasure. So, I must work very hard to make sure that they have that sense of comfort with the service I'm providing them. When I speak with my clients, we don't talk about Wall Street or economic conditions. That's not who I am, I'm the toy guy."
The self-described "toy guy" has come a very long way since he first opened his yacht brokerage company, Merle Wood & Associates, in 1988. Since then, he has amassed a list of major yacht sales that is second to none, while, together with his team, the firm has achieved cumulative sales in excess of 30 billion dollars (USD 30,000,000,000). While Wood always has an impressive inventory of pre-owned yachts available for purchase and charter, he has also been involved in many of the most noteworthy new yacht building projects since the early 1990's. In recent years, Wood delivered the world's largest private yacht at 454', and was also involved in the construction of the world's fastest megayacht. Megayachts are, indeed, what Wood is noted for, but in building his company into one of the premier yacht brokerage firms in the world, he has assembled a team of highly competent individuals to handle all aspects of the business. While Wood and managing director, Peter Croke, comprise the prestigious Superyacht Division of the company, there is a large group of associates within the Production & Custom and Charter Divisions. Both of these departments are enjoying great success, and clients from each are moving up into the Superyacht Division, all according to the plans for growth that Wood set forth early on in his career. Offering all that is necessary for a full-service operation, and with clients in all corners of the globe - including Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and, of course, the Americas - Merle Wood & Associates is recognized internationally as one of the premier yacht brokerage firms in the world.
If the last twenty years have been a tremendous success, what then, is in store for the next twenty or more? For one, Wood will preserve his dominance by staying personally involved, and by sharing with his team the lessons that he has learned along the way. "I firmly believe you must really know your product impeccably, in terms of both quality and value, and then give accurate and 100% valid guidance. It's, firstly, a very relationship-based business but, more importantly, the quality of the advice we give is what makes our clients come back to us and refer us to their friends. That, and the fact that at every step of the way, I realize you're the client and your best interests are more important than my best interests." There's one thing that's certain: The yachting industry will continue to follow Merle Wood with much interest for years to come.