4 April 2024

A discussion with Mathieu Mehl, MB92 La Ciotat Commercial and Business Development Manager

When asked to describe the role which the Commercial Department plays, Mathieu characterises it as being somewhere between a delicate balancing act and a tug-of-war, vying to satisfy the needs of both the client and the shipyard. “When you hear someone explain that they work as a commercial representative or in sales, you may think that the only success factor is the sale. The sale is everything and must be achieved at all costs. At MB92, that couldn’t be further from the truth.” 

Prior to joining MB92 La Ciotat three years ago, Mathieu spent over 15 years on the client side. A yacht Captain with a commercial license, Mathieu says that “I lived and breathed yachting for many years so gained a deep understanding of the language, challenges and needs of the client. I have participated in many refit periods at different shipyards so, when I started at MB92 La Ciotat, this fed into my approach as a Commercial and Business Development Manager”.   

Mathieu cites soft skills as key to success as well as patience and being available. “I know that if a client sends a request on a Saturday, they expect a response. When working onboard, the traditional work schedules don’t always apply so it is important to recognise this and adapt accordingly. I empathise with our clients and recognise that they are also under pressure to deliver results. It is essential to remember this when negotiating the aspects of a project structure.”  

The Commercial and Business Development team in La Ciotat collaborates with the Quotations and Technical Departments to shape project parameters for both clients and the shipyard. Since the introduction of the 4,300-tonne shiplift in 2022, the team has played a pivotal role in attracting a significant number of yachts per year, marking one of the company’s busiest periods. “It is important to strike a balance between the need to fill positions in the shipyard and ensuring that we manage the high expectations of our clients. If you lean too much one way or the other, you can create real problems. Prioritising slots without delivering high standards may deter clients from returning, while agreeing to unrealistic client requests can strain resources and also jeopardise future reservations.” 

The Commercial and Business Development team work closely with the Quotations and Technical Departments to develop project profiles and rely upon their agility and experience. “We are fortunate to have a very large quotations department supported by a highly experienced technical team. This allows us not only to respond to client requests quickly but also with accuracy. For us, being able to provide a clear and realistic proposal fosters client confidence and helps facilitate a strong working relationship. Ultimately, we are looking to build long-term relationships built on trust. This may require us on occasion to push back on a request but having that trust from the client to know that we always have the best intention for their yacht, and that we have the track record and knowledge to support that, is a valuable asset. I believe this is where our added value lies. Our clients know that we will do what we set out to and do whatever it takes to minimise unwanted surprises.” 

Mathieu is open when describing his personal view of the role, one that contributes to whether a refit season is considered a success or not. “I find the position to be highly dynamic and each day brings different challenges. I am a great believer in the human aspect of this business and, despite the growing influence of A.I. and databases as incredible support tools, the importance of relationships cannot be overstated. Yes, it can be a demanding role, requiring 24/7 availability and negotiations can provoke conflict. With the planning stage so important in defining expectations for the project, this is an essential part of the process and as long as we keep the project front and centre, I do not see this as a negative at all. It shows that we are passionate about delivering the best result possible.” 


I empathise with our clients and recognise that they are also under pressure to deliver results. It is essential to remember this when negotiating the aspects of a project structure

Mathieu Mehl - MB92 Commercial & Business Development Manager

The future of the role as mentioned by Mathieu is going to be more and more supported by digital tools such as A.I. and data management. The profile of owner is also changing. Mathieu envisions that “younger owners are increasingly more knowledgeable and interested in the behind-the-scenes area of their yacht. This will play a bigger part in what the refit offer will look like and also what is expected from a yard stay.” 

For those aspiring to career in this field, Mathieu encourages diving straight in. “This business is unique. It is important to get involved and gain a real feel for what this industry is all about. Obviously, a good sense for business is important but equally so is passion. Success requires drive and the best fuel for longevity is genuine passion.”