A conversation with Philippe Escousse, Site Manager 300t Origins
My experience as a skipper has been fundamental; there are some things you can only learn on-board.
What is your background?
I have been passionate about boats as long as I can remember and began sailing at a very young age, just 6 years-old with my parents who were also very keen sailors. I started my career as a captain in 1978 in Antibes at the age of 20, during which I had the pleasure of racing and cruising over 200,000 nautical miles (23 major ocean crossings and 2 round the world trips) and by the end of this chapter, I had gained my 3000 GT Master certification.
When did you start your career in refit?
After 20 years as a captain I decided it was time to come ashore and look after my new family so I returned to Antibes to work as a project manager at the Treillard shipyard, while continuing my passion for sailing by participating in regattas such as le Figaro and the round Europe race.
Was it an easy move from Captain to Project Manager?
It’s a great career choice for a captain wanting to get back on land because as a skipper I had overseen a number of new-builds and countless maintenance and refit periods. Once you have project managed a refit in Mali, you can project manage just about anything!
Tell me about Origins?
The approach needed for big vessels is not quite the same as for smaller superyachts. The Captain and crew of a 40-metre motor yacht will be more hands on and they prefer a more flexible and personal approach. The dedicated team members we have selected for the facility are particularly good multi-taskers and perform well under pressure.
What would you consider a “successful” project?
A satisfied customer is the definition of a successful project. When the client feels he/she has achieved great value for money, high quality craftsmanship and a delivery that has been executed on time.
How would you define excellence?
Perfection, which can only happen through attention to the smallest of details. These little details are more apparent on smaller yachts whose owners tend to spend more time on board than owners of megayachts so can be noticeably more attentive to these details.
What’s important to clients of 300t Origins?
Flexibility and a clean, well-organised site with easy access to staff, who now have offices in the 300t zone. They also get great use out of the crew lounge and gym.
What would you say is the site’s most important differentiating characteristics?
If I had to pick one, it would have to be access to a huge network of highly qualified and experienced contractors. We are backed up by the services of a large shipyard that is situated in a town with an important shipbuilding heritage. So clients of 300t Origins can benefit from this local specialist contractor network as well the international providers that work throughout the MB92 Group.
What are your main objectives for 300t Origins?
My main objective is to have clients return to the yard year after year. It’s more than an objective, it’s a philosophy based on client experience of the project. They need to feel at home in the yard, which is a particularly important factor for captains who are afraid of losing quality crew members during a refit period. If they are happy, everyone is happy!
What project are you most proud of and why?
Difficult to choose, there have been so many! The new-build of SY Allure with Compositeworks was an exciting project and it’s great to see how well the yacht is ageing. The refit of MY Moonlight 2 was a very interesting transformation project as well because we had to move extremely fast and the yacht was registered as a passenger ship so had very complex class requirements.
What has been the most important factor for you to succeed as a project manager.
My experience as a skipper has been fundamental in successfully delivering most of the projects I have managed because there are some things you can only learn on-board.
How do you see the refit industry evolving in the future?
I hope one day in the not too distant future we will be able to convert yachts to hydrogen power and I believe this will become one of our main activities. We are at the beginning of a ‘virtuous evolution’ and I think this will be a driving force behind the future growth of MB92.