Yachting Pages is pleased to share an article featuring an interview with Sarah Flavell from leading superyacht lights and lighting consultants Savage Marine. Sarah offered an insightful introduction to the world of superyacht lighting and how the industry is changing.
In your own words how would you describe Savage Marine’s business and how it all began?
Savage Marine Ltd was founded just over 20 years ago as a specialist lighting company for the superyacht industry. Over the two decades, the company has evolved significantly in terms of size, product range, facilities and even in terms of directorship. However, whilst the original founders of the company have not been involved for many years and the company has experienced significant growth and change, one thing remains the same; Savage Lighting is still a specialist in lighting solutions for the superyacht industry and known worldwide as a leading high quality lighting manufacturer and designer.
We are specialists in the design, manufacture and production of high quality interior and exterior light fittings for the marine and superyacht industries. Over the years, the business has developed in line with the significant changes in the focus on how light can be integrated and implemented on board in terms of technology available, such as LED and with lighting control systems enabling both light output and bezel design to be used as design features.
Whilst we still offer stock and custom light fittings just as we did many years ago, the business has developed to focus even more on the technology within the fittings as well as smarter and more efficient use of high quality materials. Our business is also no longer just about the fittings themselves, but also includes boat wide integration to control systems, lighting design, project management and custom and bespoke solutions.
How has Savage Marine developed over the years?
There is perhaps a story here of how the company has become what it is today. The ‘face’ and driving force behind Savage Lighting as it is known today is Julie Clark. She is well known throughout the industry and has been involved with Savage Lighting for well over half of the company’s life span. Originally brought in by the former directors to help get the company moving forward in terms of dealing with orders and enquiries and bring some structure and organisation to the business, Julie quickly turned initial enquiries into orders and created what was the start of long standing business relations with many of the industry’s leading shipyards and designers.
Following changes in the management and directorship, Julie became responsible for all sales and operations and in time, was made a director. In June 2011, Savage merged with Pro-Tech CNC Ltd, a precision engineering and stainless steel specialist company for the aerospace and marine markets. A change that left Julie as the remaining original director and that provided Savage with a major expansion to their services, facilities and team. Today, Julie remains as the leading and driving force of the company and is actively involved in all major superyacht projects for the business.
What makes you different from your competitors; how are you unique?
We engineer and manufacture all of our products in-house. Not only does this give us excellent control over materials, R&D, quality and costs, it also gives us the ability to customise and develop light fittings to suit client bespoke needs. As long as the design fits on our machines, we can make it!
What’s new with your business? Are you working on any new developments at the moment?
Currently we are focused on two new developments. One is a greater development of our refit product line and the second is on lighting control solutions. We have recently completed and are involved in a number of large superyacht projects that require complex integration of boat wide LED lighting control with colour change, dimming and mood settings in to third party technical control systems. Our main developments in this area are based around custom solutions for specific project requirements especially for refit projects.
Is there anything that people don’t know that you would like to announce?
This year we will be launching several new products but we are most excited about our new LED interior lighting range.
Who is your key target audience?
Our target audience is quite varied. For existing yachts (any yacht that needs light fittings) it is mainly captains and chief engineers. For refits and new builds it can be designers, shipyards, project managers, electrical contractors or captains, sometimes even owners/owner representatives. For new builds, designers and project teams are critical to us being included in the spec.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?
From a technology stand point it is the complexities of integrating LED technology in to yacht wide systems such as control and entertainment platforms.
From an industry point of view it is an increased number of refit projects looking to upgrade and introduce LED technology - that part is relatively easy but it is the existing onboard electrical infrastructure that can make it complicated.
Then of course there is the worldwide economic problem of maintaining the high level of superyacht standard products and service on reduced budgets. It just means we have to be smarter and more efficient in our in-house manufacturing processes.
How is business? How have you been affected by the recession?
Sometimes I have to take a double look before I say this, but in all honesty no, not really. The last two years have been our best to date and we were lucky to never really experience a shortfall in orders. What we did experience was a change in the type of customers we have and how we have to do business - sharper pricing, more cost effective options, longer project lead times etc... The biggest impact was the reduction in the number of new build projects we had followed by a sharp increase in refit projects.
What are your top tips in your industry?
- Listen to the customer.
- Your product has to represent value for money - being in the industry does not give you the right to stick on a high price tag
- Don’t try and do everything yourself - embrace the skills of others within the industry and team up.
What is the most bizarre client request you’ve received?
We have had several, but I will name a few as what seems bizarre to us may not to someone else.
To have all of the exterior lighting changed so that the boat was illuminated in pink flashing lights on the mast so the owner could find/identify their boat in the dark.
And what we consider the most bizarre: RGB colour changing dancing pole!
What superyachts/big clients have you worked with that you can share?
All of our projects are prestigious and important and we would rather not single out one nor could we mention many of them due to client confidentiality.
What we will say is that we are involved with many new build and refit superyacht projects worldwide particularly across the leading main yards in Northern Europe, but also for many big clients further afield. We are currently working on projects from 50m to 160m projects.
Are you attending any upcoming boat shows? Are you doing anything special?
Dubai International Boat Show - we will be displaying lots of new products and be displaying integrated lighting control systems that we have developed together with Crest Systems Engineering. Later in the year we will be at Monaco, METS & FLIBS.
Who would be your dream client?
I suppose there are two scenarios here - a dream client and a dream project. A dream client would be someone who is really looking to embrace how lighting can be used as a design feature. By this I mean both in terms of aesthetics of the actual fixture design, whether it is to use lighting as statement features or to compliment and seamlessly blend in with the interior and exterior design in terms of how the light output is used. Lighting can completely change how an area looks and is used and a client who embraces this can really use lighting to their advantage. Working with clients like this enables us to produce end results that often have that wow factor.
A dream project would be a project that has a wide variety of lighting solutions necessary as that really allows us to be creative and provide a wide spectrum of solutions. A project that needs additional solutions to the standard interior and exterior requirements such as down lights, step lights or reading lights. A project that needs handrail lighting, mast lighting, mood lighting and bespoke solutions - that is where we can really maximise our in-house precision engineering skills and produce a spectacular result.
For more information, visit Savage Marine.