There are few people in the world who can spot a Merritt yacht coming into port. In fact, even the wife of the company’s owner has trouble recognizing one on sight.
“She might say, ‘Is that one of your boats?’” says Roy Merritt, who has been running the Pompano Beach, Fla., company since 1971. “And I say, ‘No, dear. That’s not.’ It’s just that the people who know, know. And usually the people who buy them know. We don’t get the neophytes.”
Of course, it’s not exactly easy to pick one out. There are no labels on a Merritt. The firm doesn’t advertise and lacks a fancy Internet presence, though a simple site is being built. And the only promotional branding it does is when Roy gets hustled to put up money for a tournament prize.
And yet, by virtue of the product, Merritt has managed to become the benchmark boat for sportfishing yachts in the course of its 50-year history. And while other, similar boat manufacturers have grown and changed hands, Merritt has remained a family-owned and -run operation.
These are no cruising vessels, mind you, those Rolls-Royces of the ocean that shuttle the monied classes from Martha’s Vineyard to Palm Beach. Merritts are, first and foremost, fishing boats, meant for catching marlin in the Virgin Islands, or hunting giant tuna off the Newfoundland coast. It’s just that they happen to cost about $6 million, and contain more granite countertops and flat-screen TVs than most premium New York City apartments.
This article appeared in WWDScoop, a special publication of WWD available to subscribers.