By Dorie Cox
Yacht crew work and bunk wherever the yacht travels. Underway, they communicate through social media and mobile platforms. They have a sense of movement and immediacy.
Chef David Marchand remembers the lifestyle well, and he uses it to find and connect quickly with crew wherever they are for his new business, Saltee Rags, a yacht crew apparel and promotional material company. Although based in Fort Lauderdale, there is no dedicated office and no regular work hours. Marchand and his partner, retired stew Lena Rossello, are on the docks and on their cellphones to show and deliver their merchandise.
Formerly chef on yachts including Carpe Diem II, Balaju, MIM, Deep Blue, Talon and Chevy Toy, Marchand is used to working under pressure and said he is skilled at delivering what people want, when they want it. Although currently in the restaurant business, Rossello’s takeaway from her year as a stew is the same. A chief stew can have a hard time contacting suppliers, so Rossello works to be available through one-on-one relationships.
“We don’t like people to wait, their time is important,” Rossello said. “Time is of the essence. Owners want everything yesterday.”
Marchand also brings business experience with his 14 years in private banking. He was a certified management consultant in Canada and works in the United States on several different visas.
“We are based here, so we try to push as much American product as possible,” Marchand said over the sounds of embroidery and screen printing machines in the warehouse shop where the products are personalized. The shop is near the shipyards and maritime businesses of Marina Mile in Fort Lauderdale.
With a pile of recently printed yacht crew shirts in hand, Marchand pulled open a label to show an eco-friendly material and explained that the inks used are water-based and better for the environment. He is proud that the printing shop and product providers source material made from recycled products such as coffee grounds, plastic bottles and tires, and that the shop does not use mineral spirits or chemicals in the processes. Sustainability is of growing importance to many yacht crew, and with the volume of personalized products that yachts and their crew use, conservation should be important, he said.
“A regular 150-foot yacht with, say, nine or 10 crew needs five shirts each, plus five extra. Then add each size, plus day and night wear. Then add shorts, shoes, jackets,” he said. “That’s a lot.”
Marchand will always be a chef at heart, but he finds that his new interest keeps him growing and learning. Yacht logos, specific ink colors that yacht owners request, and the variety of “swag” available to choose from keep each day exciting, and the year old business continues to grow.
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart; this is fulfilling,” he said.