Art of the Deal Page 2

Art of the Deal

Part 2: “I signed a lot of really nice contracts on that boat. It was a very effective business tool.”

By Kim Kavin — February 2004


Photo: Courtesy Ken Olsen
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• Part 3: Tiara 5200

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He closed deal after deal and built relationship after relationship on that boat. Even his boss started using the Wellcraft to entertain clients. They would cruise down to Manhattan, tie up at the famed Water’s Edge restaurant for dinner, then cruise home under the glow of the city’s lights and the moon. Even in bad weather, his guests wanted to go. One man, a client from India, insisted on setting off just before a storm even though he had his petite girlfriend with him. Olsen says the three of them had to beat their way back up the Hudson for three hours, huddled against 40-mph winds and four-foot seas. “I thought it was over,” Olsen recalls. “But when we were home, he said, ‘That was the most exciting experience I’ve ever had.’ He invited me to a tiger hunt.”

About three years later, Olsen’s captain started nudging him (as captains always do) to move up to a bigger, more comfortable boat. After all, they were now cruising not just around Manhattan, but down to Fort Lauderdale and the Bahamas during the wintertime, to entertain clients there.

Olsen chose a used 1987 Viking with a hardtop and a flying bridge and named her City Lights, after the showpiece of his client cruises. He refined his routine and found his guests were much more comfortable underway in the bigger boat. By his fourth or fifth year as an owner, he had the operation down, even keeping copies of Ray Charles’ “God Bless America” and Whitney Houston’s “Star-Spangled Banner” to play as he rounded the Statue of Liberty. “I had people crying on my boat,” he recalls. “It was an emotional experience. I signed a lot of really nice contracts on that boat. It was a very effective business tool.”

About three years into owning the Viking, Olsen felt the push to move up again. He was hesitant. He didn’t want a boat so big that it would turn his clients off; he wanted a tool to help him build relationships, something he could run himself. “There’s a fine line between going out and having a good time together and showing off,” he says.

Next page > Part 3: “Tiara’s at the top of the list every time.” > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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