Looking to the future of yachting, YATCO interviews several fresh faces in the industry to discover how they got their start, their career highlights so far, and what they predict for the future of the yacht market.
This month, we are speaking with Aaron Antonson, yacht broker for Denison Yachting.
Featuring Aaron Antonson
Tell us about how you got your start in yachting.
My family has a naval heritage going back to World War one, where my great-grandfather served as a submarine captain. From an early age, my father, also an officer in the US Navy, taught me how to restore old wooden boats while living in New York. That passion was amplified when I moved to South Florida to attend the University of Miami. I quickly realized that my first Florida boat needed to be a Zodiac inflatable boat that I could deflate and sneak it into my dorm to begin the restoration. After a flawless and profitable sale, I rented a workspace and started scaling the business to larger vessels of all styles – with much higher value. At one point, I had 17 projects under restoration.
I discovered what essential values made my boats sell faster and at a higher price point than any other for sale, which ensured I returned a profit each time. When my clientele started to buy larger boats, I needed to join a yacht brokerage team that could provide my network with the finest service possible. I approached the industry leaders Denison Yachting and within the first month of working together as their youngest broker, we had 10 yachts under contract. It was a perfect match.
As a professional in yachting, what trends have you seen and what do you predict for the coming years?
The future looks very promising. The last few years there has been record breaking with new families entering the yachting world, and I expect the trend to continue far past 2022. This has resulted in an explosion of interest and capital in almost every aspect of yachting. A few of my clients have personally made investments in the industry, from developments of new marinas to innovations in yacht building techniques. We are seeing an influx of new ideas from many new people who want to see the industry advance and evolve for the better.
We are seeing an influx of new ideas from many new people who want to see the industry advance and evolve for the better.
What kinds of challenges have you been up against in yachting and how do you overcome them?
My largest challenge has been a lack of inventory so to tackle this, I traveled to Turkey with the Denison team to look for more options for our clients. During my tour of the shipyards, Evadne stood out to me with its Vripack-designed pocket-explorer yacht. The Evadne team is building some of the highest quality and over-engineered explorer yachts available today. I am proud to represent their yard and will have their 85′ ROCK on display in the Cannes and Monaco yacht shows.
During my tour of the shipyards in Turkey, Evadne stood out to me with its Vripack-designed pocket-explorer yacht
Please tell us about some of your most memorable and successful moments, professionally.
The Monaco Yacht Show in 2021 was unquestionably one of the most memorable moments thus far. I felt extremely fortunate to celebrate the debut of our Monaco office with the figurehead of our company: Bob Denison. Bob has not only built the best yacht brokerage firm but has made it truly a family. This trip to Monaco was one of my favorite moments and made me the proudest to be part of Denison team.
I would say one of my most successful moments was making one of my clients over $300,000 in profit on one of the yachts we bought and sold together this year. It proved that my profit principles are even more successful when applied to larger yachts.
Bob Denison has not only built the best yacht brokerage firm but has made it truly a family.
What do you aspire to for the future?
I want to continue to grow more as a broker and give my clients the best competitive edge when buying and selling their yachts. I was fortunate enough to have Alex Clarke as a mentor while entering the Denison family. Alex has been more than just a mentor to me – he is someone I aspire to emulate one day. I learn from his experiences and his unique perspectives on navigating these sometimes-challenging transactions daily. It’s a great advantage having him on my side.