How would you answer this question: What is SailNet? Or better yet, who is SailNet? Both are valid questions, because despite the fact that this company has been around for over seven years offering sailors useful articles and information to enhance their enjoyment of the sport (not to mention a full selection of sailing gear and accessories), a lot of sailors don’t understand SailNet and the scope of the company’s activities.
OK, somewhere along the line you’ve probably heard SailNet described as an on line resource for sailors. If that sounds a little vague, read on. Apart from being an on line publisher, offering an abundance of articles on all aspects of sailing and sailboats, SailNet is also website where sailors can interact with one another via topic-specific e-mail discussion lists and message boards. Another form of interaction offered by SailNet is a customized personal page, where sailors can store text and photos about themselves and their boat(s) for others to enjoy. But we’re just scratching the surface here.
Did you know that SailNet’s in-house servers host the websites of various sailing organizations from classes like the Catalina 28 Class Association, to boatbuilders like Beneteau? That’s right. And additional on-line features like SailNet’s BoatCheck offer valuable tools to assist sailors. (In the case of BoatCheck, you get the benefit of what other boat owners’ have to say about specific boats that they own.) Then there are items like the Weather Center, wherein sailors can obtain national and regional updates or create their own account to see the latest marine forecasts for their home waters. Also, for almost three years, the website’s Our Experts Respond program has helped countless boat owners navigate thorny maintenance issues And all of these features are provided for free.
So what’s the catch? Well, there really isn’t one. The theory behind all of this is that because we firmly believe that sailors truly value all the services and resources we put at their disposal, we expect that they’ll be willing to support this activity by making SailNet their principal source for the gear and accessories they need for their boat and their pastime. That’s right, SailNet is also an online store; but not just a store in conventional terms. At SailNet, you can do more than just buy winches and life jackets. You can order custom-built sails, purchase custom-made lifelines or rigging, and get just about anything you need for your sailboat except bottom paint and diesel.
OK, by now you’re finished scratching your head and you’ve realized that this article is definitely a departure from what you’re accustomed to reading in this space. You’re right. We ordinarily take great pains to avoid blurring the line between feature editorial and in-house promotion, but we also thought that a lot of readers would be interested to know about a momentous occasion behind the scenes here at SailNet. What’s this all about? We’ve moved our warehouse and reorganized some of our manufacturing divisions, and now SailNet is in the final stages of consolidating all of its operations into one location in a new headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina.
Let’s back up for a moment and start with a quick bit of history. SailNet was founded in 1994 by Sam and Cheryl Boyle, and then in 1999, the company became an on-line retailer. Shortly after that SailNet grew rapidly. During that phase of growth we purchased the full assets of JSI, a 40-year-old chandlery and sailing industry manufacturing firm based in St. Petersburg, FL. That acquisition gave SailNet two bases, one in Charleston and one Florida. SailNet’s manufacturing (of spars, rigging, sails, and canvas items) was all conducted in St. Petersburg, where the company also had its warehouse and sales staff.
Recently, we made the decision to streamline all of SailNet’s operations in an effort to become a more efficient company. The better we work, we reasoned, the better we can serve the needs of our retail customers and on line users. Certainly that’s not an earth-shattering outlook, but it often takes such introspection to ensure that you do your best work. So, we started by moving our sales operations to Charleston, and shortly thereafter moved most of the rest of the business here too. We loaded up five semi trailers with merchandise, sewing machines, swaging devices, computers, and so much more, and they headed north. After some long hours of unpacking and reorganizing, we’re up and running out of a new facility.
To accommodate all of these changes, we’ve leased a new 15,000-square-foot building wherein our offices, manufacturing, and warehousing will all sit under one roof—for the first time. For SailNet, this move means the dawn of a new era, and it’s all good news for the folks who use our website, whether you’re a retail customer who needs parts for your boat, or someone who simply enjoys reading about the sport of sailing.
As we get established in our new headquarters over the coming months, we’d like to offer you a behind-the-scenes look at the key folks here who are serving your needs, from Paul Freund in the Rigging Shop to Tom Geeraerts in AirForce Sails, to Bruce Looney who helps take orders in the Call Center, along with so many others. We think it makes sense for you to get to know these people so you can see that they’re seasoned professionals who understand the best way of resolving your sailboat problems and meeting whatever your needs are in order that you can better enjoy your time on the water.
So stay tuned. In the mean time, here’s hoping you’re making the most of your time on board. If that’s not the case, perhaps we’ve got some information or some gear item you need to turn that around. Let us know. We're here to help.