As part of my marketing strategy to promote my blogging business, I spend some of my time networking. As a result, I have met some wonderful people working in all sorts of businesses. With my innate interest in “all things business” I invited Lisa Caddick from Val Wyatt Marine in Wargrave, to tell me her business story. Here it is…
Writer meets… an Unexpected Marina Director
There’s “messing about on the river” and there’s messing about on the river with style, panache and on one of the most picturesque stretches of the River Thames.
I met Lisa Caddick, Managing Director at Val Wyatt Marine Ltd, the morning after Bryan Ferry had swept Henley off its feet at the Henley Festival 2014. Lisa and her husband and business partner, Ben, had moored their Interboat against the booms to listen to the music and to soak up the festival atmosphere.
Like numerous other boats around Henley, Lisa’s boat was carrying a festival hamper from the Local Larder (Val Wyatt’s own riverside coffee shop) and a group of good friends. The boat was soon surrounded by other Interboats and Val Wyatt customers for the entire musical event!
Tell me more about Lisa & Val Wyatt Marine
Val Wyatt Marine, established in 1845, is a traditional, family-run business that’s full of heart and character. Lisa’s father had bought the business from the Wyatt family in 1977; thus the backdrop to Lisa’s upbringing was the marina business, boat trips after school and stunning river views from the marina’s Wargrave setting.
After a career in the corporate world working as a chartered accountant, which gave her a unique understanding of corporate finance and business, Lisa saw the potential in the family business and she decided to bring her own brand of youthful charisma, drive and energy to what was already a very charming and much loved local marina. A short while later her husband joined her, bringing with him his passion for sales and, together with their fantastic and knowledgeable team, they are now investing in the business and bringing a sense of community and fun to the boating sector.
What are Lisa and Ben doing to take the business forward?
The word ‘community’ is at the heart of everything Val Wyatt’s Marina has to offer.
As a member of the public, we are welcome to come in to browse around the beautiful boats, grab a coffee at the Local Larder and sit by the river. There are 120 moorings at the marina, with 16 more being planned for this year. The boat owners treat their boats and the marina as natural extensions to their own homes, some even bringing their own plant arrangements to add to the ambience of the marina.
Lisa and Ben are passionate about investing in the marina to make it the best place it can be for their customers, their partners, their team and themselves.
I think it’s working!
As a member of the public, who may or may not have any knowledge of boats or boating, to have an open invitation to walk into a marina is unprecedented.
As I live in the local area, I have visited the Val Wyatt Marina on several occasions: my family went to the ‘Henley & Wargrave Boat Show’ in the marina earlier in the year; my husband and I dropped into the Local Larder for a cuppa one Saturday afternoon; I took the kids there after school for an ice cream and I have had several informal meetings at the riverside tables. The marina is now one of my ‘go to’ places; each time I have visited, I have been struck by the beauty of the setting and I can’t help thinking how lovely it would be to have a boat…
Tell me about the boats
In keeping with Val Wyatt’s own family business ethos, their boat suppliers are also traditional family-owned businesses. It is the Val Wyatt premise that boating should be accessible to everyone. For example, the entry level boat – the Corsiva – is positioned at a price point that is attractive to young families who might want to dip their toes in the water. At the more luxurious end of the market, Val Wyatt offers the handmade Interboat brand which is the best of its kind in the marketplace.
There are four brands:
Corsiva - Starter open boats to get you on the water at a price which will not break the bank.
Interboat - Top quality, handmade open day boats, perfect for solid cruising in luxury with friends, just as Lisa did with her friends at Henley Festival.
This boat is also ideal for using at speed along the coast!
(This year is Interboat’s 20th birthday. You might be interested to know there are Jubilee offers running until 15th October 2014.)
Intercruiser - Traditionally styled, sociable, handmade cruisers which you can live aboard for a few days or for weeks at a time. Perfect for exploration of the waterways. (Built by Interboat).
Jetten - Steel yachts for extended cruising in luxury in the UK or further afield.
Val Wyatt at the The Southampton International Boat Show
This is one of the largest boat shows in Europe on the water. Val Wyatt have a prominent position at this event where the NEO C-line, the NEO S-line, the Interboat 640, the Intercruiser 27 Cabin, the Corsiva 570 and the Corsiva 590 will all be displayed with pride. Just like at the marina, the door is wide open for you to step on board to have a look.
Check out the NEO C-Line. This boat rewrites the design book; it breaks the mould when it comes to modern boat design. It was awarded the ‘Boat of the Year 2014’ by the Dutch Marine Association (HISWA) at the Amsterdam Boat Show for its distinctive character and innovative space utilisation concepts.
Messing about on the river…
Boating is a recreational lifestyle activity. Lisa and Ben’s business ethos reflects this through the marina’s relationship with the community, but also in the integrity of their business transactions.
It’s about fun on the river – but with the right boat that is right for you, your family and your lifestyle.
If you would like to talk to Lisa or Ben about what’s involved with buying and keeping a boat on the river, you would be very welcome. Alternatively, if you would like to keep in touch with what’s happening at the Val Wyatt Marina, please ‘Like’ their Facebook page or visit the Val Wyatt Marina for further information about boats and the boating lifestyle.
All photographs reproduced with the kind permission of Val Wyatt Marina.