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Former Chief Steward Opens Detailing Service

16 September 2021By Laura Shaughnessy

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd, working on house projects, or binging on Netflix.

If there’s one word that describes life aboard yachts, it’s luxury. Thanks to his nearly seven years working aboard superyachts as crew, Jack Coppola, CEO and founder of Coppola Concierge (C/C), has been able to translate his experience as chief steward into providing something that high-end clients want. His latest endeavor is a high-end detailing service that comes directly to you, called Worth A Wash, which will launch this fall.

In addition to C/C, which he created in October 2017, Coppola now is even busier with the detailing company. Some of their offerings include putting ceramic coats on boats, Jet Skis, and cars, as well as interior leather conditioning, dusting, and interior steaming, which may be of particular interest during COVID as it kills germs but is easy on surfaces, says Coppola. Marine detailing is an additional service they’ll offer.

“The yachting industry requires a fine attention to detail, which I was never able to find in any other mobile cleaning service I’ve used. My goal with Worth A Wash is to combine the high-level of detailing with added convenience for my clients,” he says. He continues to explain that they’ll use homemade surface cleaners that he learned to make while working on yachts, which are organic and mainly for the interior. “So, it’s all full circle. This eliminates needing Windex and other conditioners with complex chemicals.”

The former crewmember’s last charge was as chief steward/butler aboard M/Y Odin. “I was a male on the interior — I’m also gay and happy to be. Some captains, mates, and engineers did not want or like that on board. BUT (and there’s always a but) in a pinch, I was and continue to be always ready to go. So, sometimes they did not have an option. Once I was on board and a captain saw my skillset, they saw me as an asset. This enabled me to receive a high day rate, pick and choose my jobs, and have a blast on board, while making it an epic trip for the guests, which was always my goal.”

How Being Yacht Crew Propelled Him into Creating His Businesses

Although he left life as a crewmember behind after six and a half years, it wasn’t because he stopped enjoying it. He was first exposed to it when working full time as a private jet flight attendant. “My main principal owned a few boats, but the first yacht I went on was an 80 meter. I was on board as the owner’s rep, personal assistant, and butler.”

“The yachting industry requires a fine attention to detail, which I was never able to find in any other mobile cleaning service I’ve used. My goal with Worth A Wash is to combine the high-level of detailing with added convenience for my clients.”

Coppola describes himself as being incredibly mind-blown — not only by the big boat and water toys, but by the crew. “The logistics, the setup, how pretty everyone was, the attention to detail, and the fact that they were there full time and did not live out of six suitcases (which is what I did).”

After his flying contract ended, he decided to give yachting a try. Coppola says he knew he could apply his wakeboarding and waterskiing skills, service skills, cooking, and personality to a charter yacht, on top of getting awesome tips, living debt-free, and having his expenses covered. However, it wasn’t until year two that he began making a good salary along with cash tips. This was when he was freelancing between aviation and yachting (aviation paid a lot more so he dabbled in both).

Juggling Act

Not one to procrastinate, the founder started C/C while in yachting. “I opened the company when I was yachting because I did a lot of freelance so I had expenses and was able to write off a lot of it,” he recalls. “I know how businessmen work and having a crew [that’s] able to invoice, accept credit card as a form of payment, and being an entity is better for the owner. I set myself apart from the others — I was able to invoice on the spot to make it easy for all captains and owners.”

Thus, Coppola Concierge was created in October 2017, initially as a better way to get paid and assist with taxes. “There wasn’t a grand opening. The company allowed me to be able to accept credit cards, invoice yachts, and [I] was able to be reimbursed much easier,” he says, adding that it took nearly three years for the company to get to where it is now.

“We did many private jet charters, as people were in panic mode and wanted a safe way to travel. I’m also a licensed yacht broker so I sold a few yachts to clients who wished to get out on the water. After selling my first yacht, I applied my skills and assisted outfitting the yacht, helped them crewed up and also trained the crew to the clients’ needs, which is a service that most yacht brokers cannot provide,” he says.

“With Coppola Concierge, I am able to juggle four major industries: cars, yachts, jets, and properties. Since they all aren’t 24/7, when one slows down, another will pick up and vice versa. The properties are consistent for the most part and I have a team alongside me that helps manage them.”

When discussing his many businesses, the young CEO says things have been amazing, but that it has its moments. “In any new business, it is a roller coaster to start, but the main focus has always been to have my eye on the prize and to never give up. This was my same mindset when I began in yachting. I have true appreciation for that industry. Since then, the word is certainly getting out, but we are very selective with our clientele,” Coppola says about his multiple companies.

A WhatsApp Groups Resource for Crewmembers

In his spare time, Coppola also manages his WhatsApp groups that he’s created as a resource for yachties. He refers to these private crew groups as “silent groups.” Currently, there are four group with different focuses: interior, deck, captain, chef/galley. They post jobs, ask questions, and the answers can be sent directly to members of the WhatsApp groups.

 “Invest your charter tips rather than buying that Prada or Chanel bag in Monaco,” Coppola says.

This yacht crew resource is meant for yachties all around the world — it helps the crew connect. “Sometimes, someone will be in Monaco and needs to know of a 24-hour dry cleaning service and someone else was able to answer,” he says, adding that the reason for creating these WhatsApp groups was to offer resources for other yachties and to be connected. “When I started in the business, there was no way for me to connect with others. I had to figure it out on my own and in the moment. Now, with over 200 people around the world within the same group, a question can be asked and within minutes they are being given recommendations.”

The groups are free to enter but it’s exclusive and by invite only — current members can refer friends. Instagram posts and DMs bring in leads and he vets the yachties before inviting them. “I check their Instagram, look closely at their creativity, professionalism, and presentation,” he says.

Advice to Crew

If he has any advice for crew, it’s to remember the importance of saving and not overextending your wallet. “Invest your charter tips rather than buying that Prada or Chanel bag in Monaco,” he suggests. “Real life is expensive. I see many yacht crew leave yachting and then hop right back into it because the reality is life is too expensive and they did not save.”

The CEO’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to “DO IT! If you are thinking it and doubting it, then it won’t come true. If you have a passion and you want to build your own road, then put that hard hat on and get ready because the beginning isn’t pretty,” he says. “Don’t let anyone’s words take you down and just stay focused and envision your future, which will become your reality very soon if you work actively towards it.”

This column is taken from the October 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

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