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Refining the Seas: Xavier Mercado’s Visionary Leadership at ptw Shipyard

Xavier Mercado, CEO of ptw Shipyard, combines decades of yachting passion with astute business acumen, transforming the superyacht refit and repair sector. At the helm of ptw Shipyard, Xavier has crafted a unique vision that resonates with the evolving demands of the industry. In this interview, he delves into the sustainable innovations at ptw Shipyard, the importance of skilled project management, and his insights on the future of yachting, revealing how personal passion can drive professional excellence.

With over two decades of experience in the yachting industry, what inspired you to establish ptw Shipyard, and how does your vision for the company reflect the evolving needs of the superyacht Industry?

 

I founded ptw Shipyard, driven by my love for the yachting industry, a passion that has spanned over three decades. This journey began in my teenage years, spending summers on a small boat with my family. Those formative experiences cultivated a deep-seated passion for the sea and boating.

Over the years, I managed to blend this passion with my professional life and various business ventures in different fields. In 2014, a pivotal moment came when I decided to undertake a full refit of a motor yacht for personal use.

It was during this project that my partner, Josep Torrell, and I identified a unique opportunity in Tarragona. We saw the need for a specialised technical service for yachts and their crews, a place where owners can trust the skilled labour and technical knowledge required by these superyachts, covering all the major disciplines they demand.

Our mission at ptw Shipyard is to provide such a haven, ensuring every vessel receives the utmost care and professionalism.

As someone committed to reducing the carbon footprint in the Superyacht industry, could you share some of the sustainable practices and innovations ptw Shipyard has implemented or plans to implement?

 

Deeply committed to reducing the carbon footprint in the superyacht industry, I am proud to share the sustainable practices and innovations ptw Shipyard has implemented and our plans for the future. Our journey towards sustainability is not just a business strategy; it’s a commitment to preserving the environment we all cherish.

Firstly, our focus on safety and compliance plays a crucial role in our sustainable approach. Through our online documentation management platform, we ensure that all companies, contractors, and subcontractors fulfil their obligations regarding risk prevention in line with the Labour Risk Prevention Law. By insisting on full compliance, we promote safe and environmentally responsible working methods. Additionally, to safeguard our environment, we have implemented a comprehensive drainage system throughout our facility. This system leads to a WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP), ensuring efficient waste management and environmental preservation. We have also established numerous waste collecting and sorting centres, underlining our commitment to effective waste management and overall environmental care.

Most notably, ptw Shipyard has recently completed the installation of 174 solar panels, a significant step towards sustainable energy use. With a total output of 98kW, using PERC technology, these panels are set to reduce our carbon footprint substantially. The projected annual reduction of about 26K kilograms in CO2 emissions aligns with our goal to contribute to a cleaner and greener environment. This initiative is not just about harnessing renewable energy; it’s a testament to our dedication to environmental stewardship and our role as a leader in the maritime industry’s shift towards renewable energy.

By integrating these sustainable practices, ptw Shipyard is not only reducing its impact on the environment but also setting a standard in the industry. We are excited to continue this journey, constantly seeking new ways to innovate and contribute to a more sustainable future for our oceans and the planet.

PTW ADVICE FOR ASIRING PROS

Can you elaborate on the role and importance of your in-house Project Managers in ensuring projects are delivered on time, on spec, and budget?

 

I recall a challenging project from a few years ago that faced unexpected challenges. Our in-house Project Manager, Miquel Salazar, showcased exceptional leadership and skill. He worked in close collaboration with the client, seamlessly coordinating with our specialised teams.

This project highlighted the vital importance of our Project Managers at ptw Shipyard. They are not only responsible for efficient coordination and clear communication with all parties involved but also play a crucial role in budget control and the precise scheduling of tasks to prevent delays.

Their technical knowledge and ability to harmonise different teams and cultures ensure each refit project is completed successfully, meeting deadlines, budgets, and nonetheless specifications. The meticulous documentation management is fundamental to the project’s success and client satisfaction.

I truly believe PMs are invaluable team players. They are essential in maintaining quality and efficiency at ptw Shipyard, ensuring peace of mind and confidence for the yacht owners.

What do you believe sets ptw Shipyard apart from other refit and repair facilities, especially in terms of your in-house capabilities and the strategic location in Tarragona?

 

Let me share a story that encapsulates what sets us apart. A client once expressed their appreciation for working with our dedicated in-house teams at ptw Shipyard, rather than dealing with external contractors.

We offer a one-stop shop. Our nearly 100-strong team covers all major disciplines, ensuring that we can tackle a wide range of projects, from routine maintenance to complex refits and repairs.

From Yard Services, Engineering and Metalwork to Electrics, Systems, AV/IT Networks, Yacht paint, and Carpentry & Interiors, we have all the necessary expertise under one roof, streamlining the process and ensuring consistency and quality throughout.

Our specialisation in CAT® Marine Power sets us apart in the industry. We have the knowledge and experience to handle CAT® engines and propulsion systems, ensuring that vessels receive the servicing and upgrades when it comes to these critical components.

These comprehensive capabilities, combined with our strategic location in Tarragona, uniquely position us in the industry. Additionally, Tarragona’s mild climate allows us to provide year-round service, minimising weather-related delays.

ptw Shipyard Port Tarraco Works

How does ptw Shipyard ensure a transparent and honest collaboration with clients throughout their projects, and could you share an example of how this approach has benefited a recent project?

 

Ensuring transparent and honest collaboration with our clients throughout their projects is our top priority, and this approach has significantly benefited recent projects.

One prime example was on a classic 80-metre yacht, where we faced unexpected delays due to late deliveries. We immediately informed the client about this issue, and our honesty not only prevented any potential problems but also led the client to entrust us with additional tasks during the downtime.

In another instance, during a top overhaul of CAT® C18 generators on a 70-metre yacht, we discovered engine block damage that required extensive repairs. We provided the client with a detailed report and a repair estimate. Our communication in this complex situation was greatly appreciated, leading to the client’s approval of all the proposed work.

Both of these cases have led to ongoing relationships with the respective clients. In one of the projects, we currently have more than 15 professionals working on extensive carpentry tasks, while four others are performing detailed electrical and plumbing work. This level of involvement and the scale of our commitment reflect the deep trust and confidence our clients have in ptw Shipyard which results in strengthening our ongoing client relationships.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the superyacht refit and repair sector, and how has ptw Shipyard adapted to overcome these challenges?

 

Addressing the challenges in the superyacht refit and repair sector at ptw Shipyard, our initial and significant hurdle was establishing specialised work teams adept at handling the specific demands of superyachts. Understanding our clients’ unique needs, which encompass high standards of quality, efficiency, and agility, was a complex task. Constructing these teams from scratch was a substantial effort that took years, but it has resulted in a strong foundation for our operations, as mentioned in the previous question.

The process of building these teams was critical, as it involved not only gathering the right skills but also cultivating an understanding of the intricacies and high standards expected in the superyacht industry. Our success in this endeavour has been a key factor in our ability to deliver.

Additionally, while our location has provided certain advantages, our focus has been more on the internal development of our mastery. This emphasis on in-house development and the nurturing of specialised skills has been pivotal in transforming the challenges we faced into opportunities for growth in the superyacht refit and repair sector.

Could you explain more about the benefits of being an Authorised TPA facility, particularly for non-European yachts, and how this impacts your international clientele?

 

Being an Authorised TPA facility, we offer significant benefits to non-European yachts through the TPA customs inward process. This allows yachts with non-EU flags and ownership to be exempt from VAT payments. Activating this process requires some paperwork and a specific invoicing procedure, which we efficiently manage for our clients, especially for major projects. This facility is a key advantage for our international clientele, reducing costs and simplifying the refit and repair process.


You’ve mentioned that sailing with your family is your favourite pastime. How has this personal passion influenced your professional approach to the yachting industry?

 

As mentioned before, my passion for sailing has persisted despite venturing into various businesses across different sectors. This persistent interest has had a profound impact on my professional approach to the yachting industry. It has given me a deeper appreciation for the joy and freedom that yachting can bring to people’s lives. It’s about creating lasting experiences and memories for individuals and families.

My personal experiences on the water have made me acutely aware of the crucial importance of safety, mastery, and attention to detail in yacht design and refit. I want to think I understand firsthand how essential it is for a boat to be reliable and comfortable for extended trips, providing all the necessary amenities for a memorable voyage.

Moreover, my passion for sailing has allowed me to connect with fellow enthusiasts and understand their needs and desires. This has driven me to strive for excellence, translating into a professional commitment to delivering refits that enhance water travelling for those who share my love for the open sea.

Where do you see the future of the superyacht industry heading, particularly in terms of technological advancements and sustainable practices?

 

The superyacht industry is poised to embark on a transformative journey, heavily influenced by technological advancements and a strong commitment to sustainable practices. In the realm of technology, we anticipate a surge in the use of Artificial Intelligence and smart technologies, designed to enhance operational efficiency, safety, and personalization. These innovations will redefine the yachting experience, offering a blend of luxury and high-tech convenience.

Sustainability will take centre stage, transitioning from a choice to an imperative. The industry is expected to increasingly adopt eco-friendly materials, renewable energy sources, and advanced waste management systems. This shift is not only in response to growing environmental concerns but also aligns with the global movement towards reducing carbon footprints and preserving marine ecosystems. Ultimately, the industry will evolve to meet the expectations of a new generation of environmentally conscious clients, ensuring its long-term viability and relevance. The synthesis of technology and sustainability will chart a course for a more responsible, innovative, and future-oriented superyacht industry.

Finally, what advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to enter the yachting industry, especially in the specialised field of superyacht refit and repair?

 

Drive is key. Over the past 20-25 years, the sector has evolved, now demanding high levels
of expertise. The trend of mergers and acquisitions is reshaping the landscape, increasing the concentration of shipyards and specialty groups.

The future will see more M&A activity, further consolidating the industry. While larger entities are becoming predominant, there’s still room for smaller specialists. I would say to balance their enthusiasm with a commitment to adaptability and continuous learning, and to never forget that, like every unique yacht story, their journey should combine passion with professional growth.