Montenegro is an emerging market for chartering business. We decided to find out more about the key elements of successful business development and spoke to Sergei Mazur, the general director of the company Simple Sail, who shared his expertise, vision, and experience of working in Montenegro.
#mnetoday: When did you start?
SM: My sailing history began when I was 9 years old. After finishing at the Secondary Maritime School for boat mechanics I attended the Academy of Makarov in Saint Petersburg and graduated with a master’s degree. I worked as a second mate to the captain on commercial boats. My entire life has been connected to yachts and I’ve done a lot of different things including ice-racing.
#mnetoday: On what principles do you work?
A. Do not re-invent the wheel; do what others have done.
B. Build a relationship of trust with customers; it will lead to referrals.
C. Form a team of honest and reliable people.
D. Don’t skimp on safety and cleaning specialists.
#mnetoday: What’s a good way to start?
SM: Be at the right time and the right place. We started out with our investors and without boats, berths or a team and managed to sell 20 weeks of charter. There was an interest in Montenegro and with the structural changes it allowed me to establish a presence and gain a share of the market. Not requiring a visa and my existing network of friends in Montenegro also helped.
#mnetoday: What are your development plans?
SM: We want to expand our business and open new bases in countries like Greece and Croatia. Since Montenegro is a developing country, expansion here is limited.
#mnetoday: What’s your team’s greatest achievements and passion?
SM: Our investors in the business are passionate about sailing. The Simple Sail team has just participated in the Rolex Sydney Hobart – one of the hardest 600-mile yacht races in the world that has become one of the highlights of Australian sport along with the Australian Open and Boxing Day. This race has been attracting huge media coverage and a passionate audience from all over the world for 72 years. The Rolex Sydney Hobart is often called the most breathtaking and the most exhausting race in the world. After starting at Sydney harbor the fleet sails through the Tasman sea following the south-east coast of Australia and across the Bass Strait and then sails down the east coast of Tasmania towards Tasman Island.
We experienced technical difficulties at the start which resulted in us leaving Sydney Harbor in the last place of all the starting yachts. Nevertheless, we were fighting for first place in our division after only a day. The tense competition on all 3 days of the race did not allow the crew to rest or relax. Thanks to the coordinated work of the crew and the boat owner, a New Zealander, Murray Owen, we were able to finish second, losing only about an hour on the recalculated time in the PHS1 division. It is worth noting that except for the boat owner from New Zealand, all the other crew members were from Russia.
#mnetoday: What’s winter like for sailing and chartering in Montenegro?
SM: During winter the sailing schools are quite popular, especially for our Russian clients who are not afraid of the Montenegrin winter. There is a potential for sports events, since the wind is better here in winter and the weather doesn’t matter to the professional sailors. I think Montenegro can be a good base for sports people and sports events.
#mnetoday: Is there anyone that you admire?
SM: I don’t idolize anyone. I like the life I’m living, I’m comfortable where I am and I wouldn’t change anything.
#mnetoday: What are you proud of?
SM: I like developing, progressing, seeing the results and the happy customers. The quality of the services I offer is very important.
#mnetoday: What question can’t you answer right now?
SM: What we’ll do in two years’ time when we reach peak development in Montenegro.
Montenegro’s tax regime is favorable for the charters. For example, there’s no duty on the fuel and no VAT on importing the yachts used for the charters like there is in neighboring Croatia (Dubrovnik is only 4 hours north per boat). However, yachting in Montenegro may not be exempt forever. As Montenegro becomes more popular the chartering service expectations will increase.
There is a saying, a true leader sets high standards and refuses to tolerate mediocracy or poor performance.
We will continue to watch the chartering industry in Montenegro and wish Simple Sail the best of luck in this market.