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Avid Sailor Steven Hollis caught the sailmaking bug when he was just a teenager; here he tells Beverly Causey-Smith of the Royal Gazette Newspaper how he got started and why the profession is still a passion for him.

Do you believe that you are practicing in the profession that you were meant to be in?
“Yes most definitely. It’s very challenging and enjoyable and every day is a learning experience”

What motivated you to be in the sail business?
“My love of sailing. Jay Hooper asked me to work for him when he started Hooper Sails. I was 12 or 13 and after about two years of working with him I decided that this is what I wanted to do in Life.”

What’s it like being in business with your wife? How would you describe that side of your relationship?
“I love working with my wife. She brings to the business a wealth of knowledge gained working with the marine industry in the US and has been instrumental in making the business grow.”

“Initially it was hard for me to let go of the daily running of the office and she has taught me that no, you can’t do everything and be everywhere at once. Most couples could not work together but I would have it no other way”

What are your three biggest challenges in the sailmaking business?
“I would think that building a stronger, better product both in sail and canvas is our challenge.

“Keeping up with technology and design trends and assessing all products on the market, as well as producing a competitive product is one reason we joined the Doyle group and is why we are important to that group.

“Customer satisfaction – getting the product out in a timely fashion as well as being able to take on any job that comes in is challenging also.

What aspects of your job do you most enjoy?
“I love the challenges, the thousands of people I’ve met and the reputation world wide I’ve received.”

What excites you about your work?
“Having a customer who appreciates the talents we have and the end product is a perfect fit and looks top class.”

What are your greatest work accomplishments?
“Building my boat! I would think the canvas work we did on the three-masted 200-foot schooner, ‘Adix’, which in my view is the finest and most beautiful yacht in the world. The job consisted of mizzen, main and fore sail covers, (the mizzen is 72’ long) staysail and jib covers, four very large deck awnings, gig and launch covers and various other covers, we used 600 yards of fabric. I was flown to St. Tropez, the South of France, to measure the boat, fabricated all the work here and the installation was done in England. I flew over to fit the work spending a week doing so. Every piece of work fit perfectly and the job looked first class.

“We got the job because of our reputation and the skipper of the boat commented there were only two places in the world to get the work done Ocean Sails in Bermuda and Antigua sails in Antigua. I feel this is an accomplishment!”

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
“Hopfully with some hair and teeth and still sailing and working…doing what I love with my love.”

Owner/Partner Suzanne Hollis’s Interview with Royal Gazette’s Beverly Causey-Smith

How did you meet your husband? When did you Marry?
“That is a love story in itself..I was living in CT., single mother of 2 working full time. I met Steve after he sailed the Bermuda 1-2 Race to Newport R.I. with Tom Wadson on ‘Swift of Paget’ in July of 95. My friend Nancy, Toms fiancee, invited me to join them in Jamestown and I was able to get away for a few days .Steve and I met over a game of croquet, and while having dinner that night, cupids arrow struck..No one else existed.! We were married Sept. of the following year.”

How long have you worked with Steve? What’s the best thing about working with him?
“I have worked with Steve since we married in 1996. Steve and I work very well together as a team as we have both been in the marine business for many years, Steve is an extremely talented craftsman, who amazes me with his abilities while I’ve been involved in customer relations, business and the advertising side and with our combined knowledge of the business we inspire each other, he loves what he does and I love what I do.”

When you both are away from work do you still talk and think about work or do you set limits?
“ I try and set limits, Steve is much better at doing that than I am. Outside of work.. we have 2 teenage children Austin and Ashly who we are very involved with. Steve was the president of Clearwater Middle School PTA and I was the secretary for 3 years. we assist my sister and brother in law in running the YAO Baseball which consists of about 350 kids from ages 5 to 25. When my son turned 16 several years ago, I started a Babe Ruth League for the older kids. I have been coaching my sons team and Steve is my assistant coach. We are also part-time ‘roadies’ for Austin’s band. We don’t really have a lot of time to discuss work after work”!

What do you enjoy most about your work?
“What I enjoy most about my work are the customers. The majority of our customers are wonderful people, from our local clientele to the yachts that pass through each year. We meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world. We are the mainstay for many sailors providing repairs, information, internet, mail and fax services, we pride ourselves as a One Stop Shop in the Atlantic. We have developed many friendships and long standing customers over the years many return to Bermuda to have us do their work... that is rewarding.”

If you had it to do over again would you choose the same career?
“ Yes, my original interest was marine biology I used to work with the rehabilitation of whales and dolphins, I have a great love and respect for the sea and working in the marine industry brings me closer to it.”

What are your major stresses? How do you deal with them?
“My major work stresses.. I don’t have major work stresses as we have a fantastic crew and we work as a team One of my roles is to maintain a relaxed but productive work environment.”

As a sailor, have you had any major sailing adventures with Steve?
“ In 1999 I sailed my first ocean passage together with my husband and my father on his boat to Antiqua. It was one of the greatest adventures, I have done. Antiqua wasn’t what I expected, there is no comparison to the beauty of Bermuda, however; I was impressed by the facilities offered to the yachts.”

What are your greatest accomplishments?
“Personally.... first and foremost my kids. Professionally... I have enjoyed being part of the growth of Ocean Sails which Steve has been owner of since 1980 and realizing where the business is today. Buying this building and renovating was a huge task accomplished over the last five months and very rewarding. We have ‘Phase 2' of our project yet to be completed, we have some exciting ideas we feel will benefit the visiting yachts while they are in Bermuda. and enhance the future of St. Georges.”

What are your dreams for the future?
“Dreams for the future, when the kids are in college and settled I would like to do more cruising with Steve. Keeping the business successful and continue to have the opportunity to nurture friendships in the yachting community. There is so much potential in this business and we are confident that Bermuda could benefit even more from the yachting aspects. The visiting yachts make a huge contribution to the local economy, everyone benefits...restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, airlines, taxis, bike rentals the list goes on. We would like to see Bermuda and St. Georges in particular capitalize on this industry.”