Memories of Monaco: A trip down memory lane with Jonathan Fawcett and Kevin Glancy

This year marks the 22nd consecutive year that Jonathan Fawcett and Kevin Glancy have attended the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS).

As part of a small core of firms that have attended the event for so long, and with MYS 2016 on the horizon, we wanted to find out more from the company directors about what the show means to them.


What are your abiding memories from your first show in 1994?

Jonathan Fawcett (JF): The main memory we have is of getting there, because we drove  down ourselves. Kevin borrowed a van from a good friend of his, and we loaded everything in and set off.

We had to drive via London as we were sharing the stand with a carpet company called Custom Carpets. They had some carpet they wanted to put on the stand, so we stopped in London to pick that up from their depot. The carpet was pretty much coming through into the driver’s area! We then drove down through France, stopping for one night.

Once we got there we found our way, constructed our stand - I’m not sure how, it’s always very complicated - and waited to see what happened. In truth, not a lot happened - it was a tiny show compared to what it is today.

We already knew quite a lot of people in the industry and so we looked out for them and if they came anywhere near us we grabbed them and had a chat. And slowly but surely we met new people. We didn’t come back from it loaded to the gunnels with orders - far from it, really. But there were lots of positives - I suppose that was the abiding memory. And then we had to do the whole thing back in reverse!

Then we drove back again and we ran out of fuel on the way back, still in France. Kevin was driving and he turned to me and said, “Have you ever ran out of fuel before?” I said “no” and he replied “well you’re about to now...”

Kevin Glancy (KG): He thought I was joking! We pulled over and I told Jonathan that if he went to the emergency telephone on the hard shoulder then they would speak English. So he walked to the telephone and of course they didn’t speak English, so he had to negotiate how to get some fuel with the person on the other end of the phone.

JF: This was in the days before the euro. We only had one 500 franc note - around £50 - left  on us. When the chap came with the emergency can of fuel, I asked him “Do you have any change?” He said “non”. So I said “do you take credit card?” He said “non.” So we ended up paying £50 for a gallon of diesel.

How has the event changed since the first time you went?

KG: It was a very different world back then - smaller, quieter and more intimate, but still very friendly. There was a time in the early days when we would get invited onto a yacht for breakfast by the yacht’s captain - that wouldn’t happen now, because of how big the show has become.

There weren’t a lot of people in the world with yachts 27 years ago. Now there are hundreds of boats at the show alone.

The organisers of the event were learning as much as we were. It wasn’t that busy at all at first. You only have to look at pictures of us on our stand back then - we don’t have a single photo of us with anyone on it apart from me and Jonathan. Now our pictures are full of people because it’s the biggest show of its kind in the world.

JF: It’s grown into a huge exhibition. The harbour was much smaller then, until a sea wall was built a few years ago. That changed things because the water used to get quite rough in the harbour as the sea would come in, so there were a couple of years when the boats tied up in front of us were just constantly going up and down on the waves and everyone was trying to work out how to get onto the boarding ladders and onto the boats. It’s much more sophisticated now.

Why do you think the event has grown so much?

JF: The industry has grown enormously in that time. I think people realised Monaco was a brilliant place for it and it became even better when they built the outer sea wall - there were more mooring spots for boats and the sea was kinder.

But it also grew because it was the right venue and perhaps because there was a need for a big focal point of the year for the industry. There are other shows around the world - but nothing like the Monaco show.

KG: When we started this business 27 years ago there wasn’t anyone doing what we were doing because the boat business wasn’t that big then. So, as more people have bought boats and the business has absolutely exploded, so has the number of people who want to go to a show about it.

We love the experience. The beauty of the boat show is that there is an opportunity to see everyone from within the industry all in one place.

What was the most memorable show that you’ve been to?

KG: The third year. For the first two years we didn’t get a sniff. But we committed to ourselves we’d do it three times. And at the very end of the third year we got our first client, who saw something different in us. We’ve been working together ever since.

JF: Kevin has a relative in a big advertising agency and he had said to Kevin that if you try something you need to do it at least three times to see if it works. At the end of the first and second years we were weighing up whether to keep going and at the end of the third year we were probably wondering the same thing again.

But literally as we were starting to pack up the stand at the end of the show, somebody walked onto the stand and started looking at our items - we had even unplugged the switch for the lighting at this point. We didn’t know who the person was but after a while we suspected they might be a boat owner so we plugged the switch back in and the lights came back on. That person has become one of our best returning clients over many years. That was a significant moment and we never questioned whether or not Monaco was the place to be after that.

KG: Another memory that stands out for me from the early days is that we - along with Mark Boddington from Silverlining Furniture, who we shared a stand with - used to take it in turns to choose a restaurant and buy the wine. But one night I got a phone call from a guy we knew, who wanted to know what we were up to that evening. I told him where we were eating and he said he was going to join us, along with another guy who we didn’t know. I tried to get him to change his mind because I was buying the wine, but they were having none of it!

So suddenly I’m buying wine for five people instead of three, and these two are serious drinkers. Before you know it we’ve gone through about six bottles of wine and I had spent a fortune! But the next day the guy that we didn’t know visited our stand and ended up buying £36,000 worth of ashtrays. Those are the sort of things I remember!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

JF: We’re in the same position as we’ve always been - down on the same quay front - but we have a new stand this year, which will be great. Both companies are going to be showing more products that have our own label, as well as highlighting our continued work with different brands and suppliers.

KG: We have a new stand every four years but make sure we continue to update it each year. We always try to make it an Aladdin’s cave, but this time we’ve gone for a completely new boutique style. We’re really excited about showcasing our own products and I think visitors to the stand will be as excited as us about the products we’re exhibiting.

Finally, what does the event mean for you?

JF: When you set out in business as one person on your own, you don’t really know where you’re going to end up. I think Kevin and I during the show look back over the years and think about memories of the show that show how far we’ve come. It’s never complacency - it actually pushes you on to keep going and developing.

Going there for the first time was a real eye-opener to an amazing world - I’d only seen Monte Carlo in the films so to see it in real life was amazing. And when you’re on your own you have to do everything on your own, but it’s nice now to have people who are better at doing all those individual things than you are on your own.

We take a fantastic team of people to the show, and that demonstrates that our businesses have lives of their own and a good future.

KG: We’ve always believed that we don’t sell products, we sell service. We are a relationship business, first and foremost - our business is about making relationships with people and them believing in us and thinking about us when they need tableware or linen for their yacht, plane or property. And that’s what Monaco is all about - the industry and the event has grown because of the fantastic people, the fabulous quality of service on offer and the amazing expertise people have, which is all on show at Monaco.

Jonathan Fawcett and Kevin Glancy will unveil their JF Collection and KG Collection at Monaco Yacht Show on stand QE7, from 28 September - 1 October 2016.