Just as his father instilled a love of boating in him, Stanley Hubbard is spreading the wealth with his own clan.
By Liz Pasch — February 2005
You know what? They’re not any more fun when they’re bigger. You can just take more people. Now, that’s all I can tell ya,” he says, signaling the end of our conversation in his trademark to-the-point manner. For the past hour the owner of not just one, but two megayachts has been telling me about Anson Bell, his 161-footer, and explaining why Mimi, the 125-footer, spent her summer on the St. Croix River near Stillwater, Minnesota. Not your typical place for a megayacht. Then again, Stanley S. Hubbard, chairman of Hubbard Broadcasting, isn’t your typical megayacht owner. He’s a true boater.
His father, Stanley E. Hubbard, founded Hubbard Broadcasting, based in Minnesota, and owned KSTP Radio, reportedly the first station to be completely supported by advertising. The younger Hubbard started boating in the 1930’s when KSTP owned a boat. “It was a 65-foot Grebe named Standick, after me and my brother Richard,” he says, leaning back in the chair in his office. Always on the lookout for new advertising clients, the Hubbards made a yearly trek from their home in Minnesota to Florida, where people like Harvey Firestone (of tire fame) and Herbert Hoover (of vacuum-cleaner fame) wintered. They used the boat extensively in the summer for KSTP clients, and in the winter his parents used Standick for personal fun as well as to entertain network executives, Twin City friends, and advertisers. “I spent most of my growing years during the summer months on or around the Standick,” Hubbard fondly recalls. For his parents the boat was a convenient and safe place to entertain their children during the polio epidemic, away from movie theaters and other public places where they might be exposed.
After World War II started, his parents donated Standick to the U.S. Coast Guard for temporary use as a patrol boat, until the government could get its sub-chaser building program on track. While many private yachts were donated to the cause, the thought of the family boat being used for military use was still curious. “My dad and mother used to joke about how they gave the boat to the Coast Guard and the very next day they were driving down Government Cut, and there goes their boat with a bunch of people having a big party on it,” he chuckles. The family received the yacht back in the summer of 1944. Eleven-year-old Stanley and his brother went with their dad to pick up the boat from Navy Pier in Chicago, taking her through the Illinois Canal to the river system, then home to Minnesota, where they restored her to pre-war grandeur.
After the war his father was determined to expand the company by branching into television, so having a large boat took a backseat to focusing on the business. But with the eventual success of KSTP-TV, his son explains, the elder Hubbard “bought a 60-foot Matthews in the early ’60’s, and he called it the Hubb, and we were back in the big-boating business.”
Once the younger Hubbard joined the family business in 1951 and was named president of Hubbard Broadcasting in 1968, he was ready to follow the boat-buying tradition. Together father and son bought a 67-foot Matthews named Fairlee in 1973. Over the next 20 years they bought and sold multiple boats and made the annual trip between Florida and Minnesota, entertaining clients and other guests in both locations.
Business was booming, and although many companies chose to sell their corporate boats due to a change in tax laws, the family found the boats to be irreplaceable sales tools. By the 1990’s Hubbard was carrying on the legacy started by his father of pioneering new broadcasting territory. He expanded into satellite with a business partner, Rod Burwell. The bigger company was ready for a bigger boat—a much bigger boat—and bought a 125-foot Burger, built in 1977, from Illinois Tool Company. “We wanted to redo it,” Hubbard recalls, chuckling. “It had blue leather couches, just like a bus depot.” His desire to bring her to Minnesota and turn her into a beautiful yacht required the help of someone with years of experience. In his opinion, Jack Hargrave was the “greatest 20th-century powerboat architect” and told Hubbard “he could work just as well in Minnesota as he could in Florida.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.