My search for a good marine mechanic began at the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol office. When I inquired there, the officer on duty enthusiastically pointed to a guy standing on the North T Pier. “You need to talk to Nick, the best mechanic on the waterfront,” he said.
(Ace Mechanic, Nick Howell.)
Leaving the office, I quickly approached Nick and introduced myself. His appearance left no doubt in my mind that he worked on engines. In fact, he may very well have just crawled out from under one. His face, lined and rugged, sported at least a five day stubble and was smeared with grease. His hair, also greasy, was a mess. And the coveralls he wore looked as if they could stand on their own when taken off at the end of the day.
This guy’s the best in the harbor?
I did my best to hide my doubts, but this was honestly my first impression of Nick. I was more accustomed to dealing with mechanics at car dealerships whose uniforms and service bays were spotless.
I extended my hand as I introduced myself and explained that the Papagallo was my new yacht and that I would like to hire him to help maintain her. He did not shake hands, commenting that his were too greasy. And the body language between us indicated that he was hardly that impressed by me or my new yacht. Not a good sign.
I knew that the first impression is all important. It only takes a minute or so when you meet someone, but it usually sets the tone for the future with that person. It can determine whether you move forward – or not at all. SHIT! The message I was receiving from this first impression was not encouraging. My hopes of securing Nick’s services were dwindling.
Looking back on it, Nick’s main business was keeping the fishing fleet up and running. These owners and captains knew their vessels well and shared that knowledge with Nick. That sharing was key to the mutual respect and camaraderie that had developed between them. It was equally obvious that I was just getting acquainted with the Papagallo and to date, had comparatively little knowledge of her. Nick knew this. And although he never admitted it, I believe Nick’s first impression of me was:
“Here’s a fancy pants yacht owner who knows nothing about boats and is a wanna be captain.”
The truth is that Nick had a point. I didn’t know anything about boats. Part of Nick’s impression was right. But as far as being a “fancy pants,” my many years in the restaurant business would soon prove that assumption to be false.
Instinctively, I knew I needed this guy more than he needed my business. Success would hinge on being able to nurture the relationship along and proving that I was a serious yacht owner.
Nick finally agreed to meet me onboard the following morning to discuss a maintenance program for the Papagallo. This was a good sign. My anxiety eased a bit. Just knowing he had at least agreed to talk with me regarding his services was encouraging.
These early stages of setting up Papagallo Yacht Charters were very stressful. I had to remind myself constantly that:
You have absolute control over but one thing and that is your thoughts.
At this point in the business, it was essential to direct my thoughts to achieve positive outcomes because, as Henry Ford said,
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
At this point there would be no turning back — I am going to be successful at making this work!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog as Nick joins me in the engine room to change the oil in the 871 Detroits.
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