Just over a year ago, Jonathan Clarke took the helm of one of St. Michaels’ oldest businesses with the purchase of Higgins Yacht Yard; the only working boat yard on St. Michaels Harbor. With continued support from previous owners, Tad duPont and Bryon Reilly, Clarke has continued to offer boatyard services as well as seasonal and transient slip rentals.
With an expanded staff, a new computer reservation system and a fresh, exciting outlook, Clarke strives to not only provide top-notch service to existing customers but to increase his customer base. When you speak with him, you can tell that his first priority is honoring the integrity and reputation of Higgins Yacht Yard. “In any business, reputation is everything. I try to be fair and upfront with my customers because I want my reputation and the reputation of Higgins to be something I can be proud of” states Clarke. “I understand the amazing opportunity I have before me and I’m in it for the long-haul”.
Clarke’s passion for boats began long before he attended The Landing School and Southampton Solent University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering – Yacht and Powercraft Design. His family has been deeply involved in Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe racing since his great grandfather organized the first race in 1927. Since George H. Wilson, Sr. purchased Magic in 1923, a family member has been at the helm, with Clarke taking over when he was just 16. “It wasn’t really a choice. It was expected and I love it.”
As he heads into another winter, he reflects on his first summer season at Higgins with renewed enthusiasm. “We did most things well, but some things can be improved.” It’s this drive to constantly improve that will bring him success. He is a hands-on owner that is often mistaken for a dockhand or mechanic. “He’s not one to sit in the office and give orders. He likes to be involved from start to finish with every project from major mechanical overhauls to overnight docking” says an employee. “He wants to know that his customers are being treated well and that they know he is overseeing the work they have entrusted to him.”
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