Editor’s Note – In this series we feature a Q&A with the leading executives of passagemaking boat companies. The second installment features the thoughts of Lary Polster, vice president of Kadey-Krogen, one of the top brands of passagemaking boats. The following bio was provided by Kadey-Krogen:
Larry Polster is a life-long boater, born and raised in Cleveland, OH. As a child he explored the Great Lakes from Mackinac Island to Montreal, and became thoroughly hooked on boating the day, at age 12, he piloted his family’s sedan cruiser the last half of their voyage from Kingston, Ontario, to Rochester, NY, because both mom and dad were too seasick to run the boat. Fast forward 25 years. After ten years of owning a cruising sailboat, Larry and his wife Janet bought a Krogen 42′ – the beginning of Larry’s relationship with Kadey-Krogen Yachts. Then, completely in love with the Krogen 42′ and all it stood for, Larry volunteered to help out Kadey-Krogen at the Annapolis Boat Show. At the conclusion of the show, he was made an offer to come work for the company in Florida, an offer he graciously turned down. A seed was planted which grew into his mid-life crisis: he left his consulting job of 17 years and opened the Maryland office for Kadey-Krogen Yachts. A few years later he became a partner in the company and currently serves as vice president. Larry and Janet along with their daughter Hannah and their Portuguese Water Dog, Sasha (the office mascot), reside in Annapolis, MD.
The questions asked are all from OceanLines and the answers from Larry Polster are verbatim.
1. OceanLines: Kadey-Krogen is considered to be among the top couple of full-displacement yacht builders in the industry. When did the company really begin to gel and succeed in the marketplace? And was there a particular boat that represented that “turning point?”
Polster: The Krogen 42’ is what started it all and we built 206 of them from 1977 through 1997. The Krogen 42’ became immensely popular in the mid-80’s and I think that secured the company’s place in the industry. There was also a second turning point with the launch of the first Krogen 58’ in 2000. It was the 58 project that was the impetus for the level of refinement, both in equipment as well as fit and finish, that is found in each and every Kadey-Krogen built today.
2. OceanLines: What, in your mind, defines the Kadey-Krogen “brand?” In other words, what is it about Kadey-Krogen that customers and boaters think, that they don’t think about other brands?”
Polster: Actually Tom, I think that really is two different questions. The “brand” can be summed up in four words: Capability, Liveability, Family and Value. As for what our owners think, or more importantly know, about Kadey-Krogen, is that we represent a full and complete package – from the initial handshake to the inevitable sale when the owners are ready to move on. Look on YachtWorld at the huge percentage of our yachts that are listed with us and then look at other brands. Our owners stick with us and that speaks volumes. Yes, there are those out there that are capable of crossing oceans and a motoryacht can make a great liveaboard, but only a Kadey-Krogen is At Home on Any Sea.
3. OceanLines: Like many other builders in recent years, Kadey-Krogen seems to have concentrated on expanding the larger end of its fleet. Do you think this represents a shift of the early market away from smaller boats in general or just an expansion? In other words, is there still a good market for the smallest boats in this market segment of liveaboards and serious cruisers?
Polster: There is definitely a market for the 40-50 foot trawler. Our expansion on the larger end has been purely to fill in size gaps with vessels that can be handled by a couple. We had nothing between 48 and 58 feet, hence the 55, and we had nothing larger than the 58, hence the 64’ Expedition. Other builders are expanding way beyond 65’ but anything beyond the mid-sixties really requires more than two people and until you get near 100 feet, you don’t have proper space for crew. Perhaps that is why there are such a relatively high number of large, late-model trawlers for sale. Getting back to the 40-50 foot market, if you closely exam the Krogen 48’ North Sea you will notice that we put a tremendous amount of effort in bringing a proven model into the 21st century.
4. OceanLines: Has Kadey-Krogen looked at some of the latest technology developments, such as the various forms of diesel-electric propulsion, or perhaps newer hull designs such as the cat SWATH hulls? If so, what is the likelihood some of it will make its way aboard some future (or present) Kadey-Krogen yachts?
Polster: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The laws of physics and hydrodynamics have not changed. We feel our efforts are better concentrated on continued improvements with proven materials and equipment.
5. OceanLines: You recently announced the availability of the Krogen 64’ Expedition. While the economy is certainly affecting all new boat builders, is it possible Kadey-Krogen might offer even larger yachts, perhaps in the same Expedition series as the 55’ and 64’?
Polster: Possible, yes, likely, no. We have a design for a beautiful 77 footer that would extend the Expedition series, but we build yachts that a couple can handle with ease and confidence. A 77 footer would push those limits for most couples.
6. OceanLines: In your opinion, which systems aboard today’s yachts are the most mature and reliable; and which are the least so? If you could send a message to systems suppliers to Kadey-Krogen yachts, what would it be?
Polster: To me, hands down, the most mature and reliable is the modern diesel engine like the 6.8 liter John Deere. Here is a piece of equipment with parts moving roughly 1800 times per minute. That’s 108,000 times per hour of operation which means parts will move 216 million times before the factory warranty even expires!
As for less reliable systems, there are certainly items that one is more likely to replace than others, but that does not make it an inferior product or something a supplier needs to work on and I think that any builder that concentrates on quality will say the same thing. The overwhelming majority of the components have their origin outside of the recreational marine or yacht market and as such are well proven before we ever see them.
7. OceanLines: What features do Kadey-Krogen owners most often point to as influencing their decision to purchase a Kadey-Krogen yacht?
Polster: The liveability of a Kadey-Krogen is well recognized by the cruising community, but the way a Kadey-Krogen handles at sea, especially in a following sea, is what cements the relationship. Other trawlers either get pushed around, slalom like a snow ski or water ski on edge, or both in following seas because the aft third of their underbody is relatively flat and the entire beam of their transom is in the water. Our Pure Full Displacement hull form with fine entry and wineglass stern translate into what I call the “magic carpet ride” in following seas. The boat feels like it is hovering in place, but in reality is tracking forward as if on rails.
8. OceanLines: Are there some examples of owner-requested features aboard your yachts that have become standard?
Polster: We are a limited production builder, and as such have the opportunity to sit with each customer and review personal touches. Most recently it was the Viking range you may have seen in the Krogen 55’ Expedition and Krogen 58. A couple was moving up from a Krogen 44’ to a Krogen 48’ and they asked if we could fit in the Viking. After a design review session with our naval architect, voila, the Viking stove is now standard aboard the 48’ North Sea.
9. OceanLines: Some of the builders in the “small boat” market have done a good job of bringing new boaters in at the bottom end of their product lines and keeping them as they upgrade through the fleet to larger and larger vessels. Do you see a way for a trawler builder to do this, both from a size and price perspective?
Polster: Yes, although we feel it’s more important to keep them in the “family” which is why some Krogen owners are buying smaller, not larger. In the past eighteen months we have had four sets of owners in the “multiple” category. One couple purchased their 4th Krogen, another their 5th and still another their 6th Krogen.
10. OceanLines: Are you still satisfied with having Kadey-Krogen yachts built in East Asia? Do you see possibilities down the road for builders like yourselves to take advantage of some of the emerging capabilities in places like Turkey and Poland?
Polster: We have a very special relationship with Mr. Lin Kao Shui and Asia Harbor Yacht Builders. We have been building at Asia Harbor for 18 years. They only build for us and we only build at Asia Harbor. Both companies have worked hard to produce the quality yachts that are Kadey-Krogen today. As you might suspect from answers to some of the earlier questions, we’re not about to jump on the “greatest thing since sliced bread” bandwagon. Over the past ten years we have seen many companies leave Taiwan only to return upon realizing that the grass is not greener…
11. OceanLines: In the last 18 months, most builders in your market space have introduced new models based upon an existing hull. Kadey-Krogen has not. Why?
Polster: We’ve jokingly dubbed this phenomenon the “stretch-a-boat” concept. In the last 18 months we have seen notable manufacturers stretch a 41-footer to be a 49-footer, a 47-footer to a 52-footer, and a 55-footer to a 60-footer. They have taken existing models and just inserted five to eight feet into the mold and voila, they have a new hull without significant design, engineering and tooling costs. The problem is they have ignored architectural integrity, something Kadey-Krogen Yachts will not do.
12. OceanLines: Architectural integrity is not a concept that has received much attention. Would you please explain what you mean?
Polster: You are correct. It has not received much attention because it only became an issue in the recreational yacht market very recently as builders started stretching boats in order to save development costs. Perhaps the best-known example of violating architectural integrity occurred back when SUVs first became all the rage. Manufacturers simply took the chassis of another vehicle and put a large boxy structure on top, thereby raising the center of gravity. Remember all those early stories about SUVs rolling over?
Do I think these stretched models are going to roll over the way those early SUVs did? Certainly not, but when a naval architect designs a boat, the hull is designed to accomplish a set of goals. Designing a new boat is not done piece-meal and many decisions and measurements affect multiple characteristics. If you take a boat and stretch it, the engineering is changed. You simply can’t design the proper curvature and shape of a hull, then stretch the middle by 10% or more, or stick a larger cockpit on it, and have the physics stay the same. You can’t, using sound naval architecture principles, place the propellers, rudders, etc. on a boat and then change its length by 10-15% and add a larger engine and prop, and expect the same handling result. Take a sea trial, preferably on a really rough day. Insist on turning off the stabilizers and hand steering the boat in all conditions and you’ll see what I mean.
Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC