Annapolis Yacht Sales Among Nation's Fastest-Growing Businesses

Annapolis Yacht Sales, one of the Chesapeake Bay’s biggest yacht dealers, is now one of the fastest-growing businesses in America.

The dealer and brokerage recently landed on Inc. 5000’s list, which ranks privately-owned businesses across the country based upon growth and revenue.

Annapolis Yacht Sales (AYS) is not exactly new on the scene: the company celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. But it has tripled in size and revenue in just the last six years, according to Director of Operations Kate Dawson.

AYS started in 1953, as a small corner office inside Fawcett Boat Supplies in downtown Annapolis. Since then it has expanded to four Chesapeake Bay locations: Annapolis, Kent Island, Deltaville and Virginia Beach.

Dawson has worked with AYS literally from childhood. Her parents, Sue and Garth Hitchens, owned the company when she started working in the parts department as a middle schooler. When the Hitchens decided to retire six years ago, current owners Rob Taishoff and Chris Humphreys took over with a big expansion goal. Since then, AYS has opened two new locations and added new lines.

Asked how the yacht dealer has turned its rapid expansion into revenue, Dawson says the company has been careful about choosing “the right brands to represent our values.”

AYS sells new Beneteau sailboats, Lagoon Catamarans, and powerboats from EdgeWater, Steiger Craft, and Cruisers Yachts. Dawson describes them as “high-quality, indestructible Bay boats.” It is also the largest brokerage house in the Mid-Atlantic for high-end pre-owned yachts.

Dawson also notes that they’ve been listening to customers, and have streamlined the boat-buying process as “a one-stop shop with financing, insurance, detailing, and service.”

“We’re fulfilling people’s dreams, so we’re very sensitive to that,” Dawson explains.

With new locations and brands flourishing, the company’s next focus is on the brokerage section of the market. AYS is adding video tours and professional photos to its pre-owned boat listings. The dealer will also launch a new website in the next two weeks, highlighting its Chesapeake Bay Heritage.

-Meg Walburn Viviano