by John Curnow
These Dallas based international, online chandlers are anything but cowboys. Mauri Pro Sailing has been around since 2003 and was the brainchild of South American sailor Juan Mauri.
Mauri Pro Sailing Team members (Rod Favela, Giacomo Mauri and Juan Mauri) sail testing the Viper 640
There is a dedicated and passionate band of multi-national sailors behind the brand and online shop, who can assist you find the right clothes to wear, arrange your deck gear for all types of sailing and virtually anything in between. You can even talk online with the consultants to help them understand your needs and provide you with the correct solution, at guaranteed best prices. And all in five languages, no less!
Just how the online chandlery came in to being and why it's based in Texas is in an interesting story.
Juan is Peruvian by birth, which is not a country necessarily connected with sailing, but then as Juan says, 'We must have done something right because our Optimist team is really strong. We just won the Worlds and finished second in the Team Racing. It was a Peruvian youngster (Sinclair Jones) who won the last World Championships.' By way of reference, Peru has just 150 Opti sailors.
'So Peru was not always big in racing and team racing, but it has become an important sport now. I started in the late 70's sailing Sunfish. From there, we used to have a class in Peru called the Windmill which is similar to a Snipe and we sailed these off the coast of Lima. It rolled into J24s in the early '80s and IMS keelboats, as there were no Lasers in Peru until the mid '90s. That's when I started racing the Laser and definitely had a lot of fun', Juan added.
Juan went on win many national and South American titles in different classes, but left his then-troubled country in 1999 and settled in the USA, where he became a sales consultant for Doyle Sailmakers.
Creating Mauri Pro Sailing's headquarters in Dallas, Texas, means that he gets to sail on the giant Texoma Lake, north of Dallas. Juan and his sailing team are just two hours from any North American sailing destination and just six hours from most of South America.
Understanding the products they sell is vital explains Juan. ‘The main difference between our online business and other operations is that we actively work with both racers and cruisers. What we did from day one was to appeal to mostly the small to medium size keel boat owner, from a J22 up to a Beneteau 40 or 45 footer. '
Any good organisation is more than just one person and with Juan is a truly multi-national team that has years of experience with trimming systems, sail and rig tune, deck layouts, managing racing campaigns and plotting sensational cruising adventures.
They also use the very same equipment they recommend to you and they sail on waters that will no doubt, be very similar to your own.
The Mauri Pro Sailing team are there for their clients throughout the buying process, to provide information on all the elements listed above, so you can buy with confidence and receive support as you set about achieving your goals and dreams, no matter where they are on the globe and what level they may be.
With a smile Juan explains ‘We have a number of boats (within our crew and staff) that we use to test products at different levels.
'We have a Farr 39 ML (IMS / PHRF / IRC racing), a Henderson 30 (Sportsboat and PHRF racing), a Hobie 33 (One Design and PHRF Mid size boat), a J-24 (One Design Racing / Small keelboat gear test platform) and three Hobie 18’s, which are great for testing multihull gear. We have two Sunfish for dinghy racing and dinghy gear and at the opposite end two Hunter 35.5's - we use them to test cruising gear, furlers and coastal cruise gear.
‘Right now we are working on getting a Viper 640 to be able to stay on top of the new small sport boat trend.
'Lake Texoma (just north of Dallas) is big enough for overnight cruises and there is an active racing program with windward-leeward races and point A to point B regattas.
‘As a sailing team, each year we travel at least 10 times outside our area (within the USA or overseas) to race or cruise; each of them is a new opportunity to meet customers, share experiences and to test products.’
The Mauri Pro Sailing team are keen to talk with other sailors about sail trim, deck layouts, racing techniques and more and this all stems from Juan's passion for sailing and his background in industrial design.
The sailing team also competes regularly and has racked up many wins and podium placings in the kind of boats they help their clients modify and maintain.
'Weekend or occasional racers and coastal cruisers comprise the largest number of vessels in the US and what we tried to do from the beginning was to be their source of information. We found that everybody was having trouble trying to decide which was the best part for his or her boat.
‘We've focussed on building a website that provides an easy to use selection guide. What we have set up here, is a team that will provide technical information to anybody regardless of if you are buying from us or not', Juan proudly added.
Expansion and development of technology has allowed this passionate group of international sailors to use their experience to provide the most appropriate information to help all manner of sailors select the correct sailing equipment and hardware for their boat or needs, right across the entire world, all with the highest standard of customer service.
Customer Service to the Mauri Pro Sailing team is something that is not just a mantra to be rattled off, but rather a genuine core value and reflects what this group is all about.
They really do mean it, because Juan is available via email for your questions or you can call him directly on 1-817-224 -2209.
Juan says ‘Better still, contact us through the live chat on the website. More and more customers are using the live chat system.'
They are a multilingual group selling around the world. Juan laughs 'If you talk to me slowly in Portuguese I will understand, but we also have within our group Spanish, English, Italian and French speakers.
'One of our members is continuing his German studies, so that will eventually make six languages that our helpful team can speak.'
Another point of differentiation for Mauri Pro sailing is that they can reach all South America customers in their own language.
If you go to the Mauri Pro Sailing website contacts page, it indicates all the languages spoken. You can always write to them in your own language and you will get a reply (in your own language) from somebody you can talk too.
However it is not just South America that has benefited from this multi-lingual organisation's pursuit of customer satisfaction.
'Our customers come from everywhere - the Americas, Britain and Continental Europe to Australia and New Zealand.
'We are finding that customers in Asia are using English to make contact with us. I think language really is the key to establishing a great relationship with our customers', Juan added.
'The live chat is one of the main ways we help our global customers, because it allows us to extend our ‘opening' hours. We then work 14 hours but it is all part of our customer service promise.
'A typical example of one of these global interactions will be a client who has a Beneteau 36.7 and wants to upgrade their general lead guards, or a client who buys a 36 footer that was a cruising boat but they want to do something with it, so that they can also race the boat.
'We will work with them trying to put together a proper mainsheet system or we fit a spinnaker pole and gybing system. We were never going to be a store that would just sell parts, but rather really become a source of information and assistance to help our clients pick up the right parts that would all work together solve their issues.
'If you have a problem selecting items, we will select them for you. That service has always been free.
'Even if we are on the opposite sides of the planet, we can still help you. We will be there. If you can send us an image of your boat we can say, this is what needs to be upgraded or not.
'We use our chat for this purpose, as it has a share screen facility that allows both parties to have the 'same hymn sheet', so to speak.
'Furthermore we can even highlight the information or the item on a screen, during a chat session, if you can't find what you're looking for in the technical section', Juan pointed out. ‘We can of course also email detailed graphics.'
Websites, like any tool, take a lot of planning and maintenance. Now if you are going to be committed to your customers and effectively have a 24/7 opening hours policy, then the management of the technology, which provides that service, becomes of paramount importance.
'I don't know why people still think setting up your own website is easy - it's a nightmare!' says Juan.
'On the next version of the website, which we are going to launch soon, you will be able to purchase goods in six different currencies. Also we are improving our search tool within the website. We have always insisted that the website is user friendly, as it is frustrating for any boat owner when they cannot find the parts, because the website is not clear.
'I think these latest developments are really going to help our valued customers and new prospective clients alike.'
So then, if you need sailing equipment or assistance in finding the right gear, don't go looking for a cowboy, simply ask Mauri Pro Sailing.
You can also reach and follow Mauri Pro Sailing via Facebook, Twitter and their blogsite, all of which are accessible from their website, http://www.mauriprosailing.com
The final word from Juan. ‘Mauri Pro Sailing is not just selling parts - we are providing solutions.’