Michael Farrington - Compass Marine, Cayman
An avid yachtsman, Michael Farrington hails from South Africa but made Grand Cayman his home in 1996 then he founded Compass Marine in 2007. Sailing since he was five years old, the qualified Shipwright and Ovington Marine schooled boat builder is also the Commodore of the Cayman Islands Sailing Club.
RL: What made you decide to open a marine maintenance business in Cayman?
MF: I started working in boatyards at the age of 14 during my school holidays, then completed an apprenticeship in Southampton and subsequent Shipwright training with Ovington Marine in Newcastle combined with my love for sailing and global innovations in boat building inspired me to start my own business. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it with a beat-up van and a toolbox.
RL: How has your experience as a Shipwright and boat builder informed your decisions as a business owner?
MF: I give my clients educated advice backed by 25 years of experience. No two boats are ever the same so my broad experience is incredibly helpful when guiding clients across several areas of the marine industry.
RL: Since establishing Compass Marine in 2007 it has become one of Cayman's premier boat and marine maintenance HQ's. To what do you attribute this success?
MF: One-on-one service, honesty, hard work and always being there for the client. No job is too small or too large, there are no stupid questions and I always answer my phone. I consider myself as hands-on, working alongside my team on a variety of projects, I know clients respect hard work, and I like to think that they appreciate that I see my staff as equals.
RL: What services does Compass Marine offer?
MF: What would you like done? No seriously, we offer boat washing and polishing; electronics repair and installation, fibre glass repairs, bespoke boat and SUP building, and service and repairs for all makes of outboards, stern drives and inboard engines. Then there's splicing, rigging, hauling, towing and launching with our hydraulic trailer that can tow up to 50 feet or 20 tons.
RL: What is the new direction in boating?
MF: Customers are asking for bigger, faster engines and more efficient and lighter hull designs.
RL: What is the important lesson that you have learned as a business owner?
MF: Three things: honesty is the best policy, no exceptions ever; make every effort to listen to your staff and to be there for them; always ask, “If I were the customer, would I be satisfied with this job?"
RL: What are you working on at present?
MF: We just opened Cayman's newest boat and marine parts store. We filled the space with service parts for all makes and models of engines and all the stuff a boat owner/operator would need for general maintenance and cleaning. We're also the exclusive dealers for Tohatsu Outboard Engines, Japan's oldest and most trusted outboard manufacturer, as well as Zhik watersports wear and Scorpion Bedliner, which is a protective coating for boat decks and truck beds. Oh, and I can't forget Kaenon sunglasses.
RL: Do you still find time to build boats?
MF: I have been working on a catamaran for Cayman Kayaks. By the time you read this it will be out on the water doing bio-bay tours. Next is a 21-foot Paramount centre console power boat with a single 90hp Tohatsu which will be capable of 35-mph.
RL: What are the hallmarks of a Compass Marine built boat?
MF: There is no compromise on quality, and you have the joy of knowing that you're on the water on a boat that's completely unique.
MIKE'S TOP TEN
1. Yachtsman – Paul Elvström, Sir Peter Blake and Hans Fogh.
2. Boat – The one I am about to build!
3. Tool – My Gerber Legend.
4. Artist – Shane Aquart, aka Dready.
5. Author – Wilbur Smith.
6. Hotel – The Biltmore in Miami.
7. Book – Elephant Song.
8. Holiday – Our honeymoon, Swaziland.
9. Vice – Beer, boats, biltong & boerewors!
10. Mistake – My three rescue dalmatians. I love them but they are a handful!
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