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Legendary Leaders of Yacht Brokerage

Legendary Leaders of Yacht Brokerage

  • Daniel Ziriakus, president and chief operating officer of luxury yacht brokerage Northrop & Johnson, shares insight, tips and trends for the current yachting and chartering market.

In 1949, yachting aficionados Jim Northrop and George Johnson founded yacht brokerage firm Northrop & Johnson in New York City. Today, under the ownership of Kevin Merrigan, what was once a small brokerage has now turned into a prospering company with over 15 offices worldwide (Naples, Florida, is the newest location). The growth started when Daniel Ziriakus, the newly promoted president and chief operating officer, decided to rebrand the company.

Ziriakus spent many years in the luxury world, working for Estée Lauder, Bridger Conway and multiple high-end real estate developers. With the yachting industry booming, we spoke to him to get his take on why seasoned yachters continue to choose Northrop & Johnson and what advice he would give to newcomers entering the boating world.

What is behind Northrop & Johnson’s growth and success?
The real formula for our success is that we take care of our people and their families—that’s our priority. Behind the scenes, it’s our stringent focus on and heavy investment in technology and intelligence, which allows us to know who our customers are so that we can provide them with extraordinary experiences.

Where are most of your clients from?
As a true international brokerage house, we have clients from all over the world. In the past, we were heavily focused on the U.S., but today, we are a global firm with global reach. We’re currently the fastest-growing brokerage house in Europe, and with offices from Asia-Pacific and back to San Diego, our clients are found in all four corners of the globe.

What effect has the pandemic had on the boating/yachting business?
It’s had a positive impact. There is security on the consumer demand side when you tell people they can’t go to restaurants, go to the mall or play golf. So, what do people do? They go boating!

How is yachting a safer travel option?
Yachts are incredibly hygienic, insular environments. Whether you own or charter a yacht, the level of protection found on board is simply unparalleled to a luxury hotel or even a private villa. Yachts promise a level of safety and security that is second to none, which has many new clients thinking differently about enjoying their time on the water rather than ashore.

What is your goal for the company?
As a full- service yacht brokerage, we are here to bring clients through their entire life cycle, from their entry through charter to purchasing their first yacht, selling a yacht, putting their yacht on the market for charter and even building a new yacht with the expertise and assistance of our new-build specialists. Our goal is to provide an extraordinary 360-degree experience for clients in every facet of their yachting journey.

What size yachts do you offer?
The 60- to 80-footers are our starting point, with 100- to 164-footers being our core. We also offer megayachts ranging from 200 feet and longer. We deal with these sizes for sales, purchase, charter and charter management.

What are the current trends in the yachting world?
Trends in yachting are tough because all clients have different tastes and preferences. Someone might like old wood and dark faucets, while another might like ultra-modern, minimalist vessels. As a general design trend, you can look at what’s happening in real estate. For example, where more modern-looking places are being built—like Miami and New York—you will see parallels in our business.

What is the most important advice you would give to someone entering the yacht market?
Finding the right broker—one you get along with—is critical! Don’t try to cut corners; it will cost you in the end. When research is done online, the decision is purely product-based. I’ve never seen a person charter a boat they initially inquired about. That’s just the entry point. With the right questions, a broker can help analyze the deal and find a boat that is right for a customer’s needs and wants. If you’re new to the industry and haven’t been on boats often or fully understand how layouts can affect your lifestyle, you could end up not being as comfortable as you could be. As you become more familiar with boating and layouts, you’ll progress and become a better boat or yacht owner—and by using a good broker, you’ll shortcut your learning curve. Northrop & Johnson’s ethos is to deliver extraordinary to every client in every aspect of their yachting experience. It’s essential to work with a yacht broker who believes that you are the most critical aspect of the deal to ensure your experience is extraordinary.

What makes your brokers qualified?
Many of our brokers have been yacht captains, chief stewards or on a yacht in some capacity, which means they know the mechanics in and out, the layouts of the boats and how they’ll best suit your lifestyle. They also have a good network of industry partners they can refer. They’ve traveled the seas—from New England to Alaska to the Caribbean and beyond— and they know life on board. They’re able to organize activities, know where reservations should be made and navigate trips to the right places to suit your needs—whether it’s a boys’ trip or a family getaway. But it’s more than just our individual brokers. We have a collaborative culture at Northrop & Johnson. Not only do our brokers rely on our internal network, but they also have vast networks of colleagues throughout the industry on which they can rely. Additionally, as the only genuinely tech-savvy brokerage, we equip our brokers with the tools and intelligence needed to provide the absolute best for their clients.

What’s on the horizon for Northrop & Johnson?
We will be opening some new offices and locations throughout 2022. We also have a couple of very cool tools for clients coming live later this year. We are very excited about what’s on the horizon and look forward to continuing to deliver extraordinary every single day.

To view what boats and yachts Northrop & Johnson currently has for sale or charter, visit northropandjohnson.com

This story is from our 2022 Annual National and Florida editions. Read more here.