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. Its 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.
Whats 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 cant 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
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
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
What aspects of your job do you most enjoy?
I love the challenges, the thousands of people Ive met and
the reputation world wide Ive 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
what I love with my love.
Owner/Partner Suzanne Holliss Interview with Royal
Gazettes 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? Whats
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 Ive 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
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 Austins band. We dont 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
My major work stresses.. I dont 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
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 wasnt 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.