Alexei Mikhailov, is a former Soviet-era academic and engineer who specialized in hydrogeology in Magadan, a Siberian city located on the Sea of Okhotsk. He admits to leading a comfortable life during the Soviet era. His parents were also engineers with high positions in an electric distribution company and engineering firms, which accorded them privileges the general public did not have. He worked in a large research laboratory and was studying for his PhD, but that changed with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Two things in his life fuel Mikhailov’s passion—boats and business. He wasted no time establishing the latter. A short time after the country’s political implosion, he applied for a business license (his was number fourteen in a city of over 100,000), after which he created a consulting firm that catered to the region’s mining industry. Within three years he had 300 employees. With a partner, Mikhailov purchased and refit a 136-foot crew boat, turning it into a megayacht-cum eco cruise liner. Magadan is also known for its fishing fleet and naval base. He used the expertise of the former and the facilities of the latter for the refit, gaining valuable experience with and appreciation for steel construction. For a while, Alaska Airlines flew tourists in and his ship ferried them around the area’s natural sights. At the time he was 26 years old.
In 1993, Mikhailov traveled to the United States for the first time to visit a friend. He had $3,600 with him. His businesses in Russia were no longer thriving and he was casting his net for other opportunities. He liked the economic and business freedom in the US and decided he wanted to stay, but wasn’t sure what he should do. At first he shipped clothing to Russia, then cars, but neither was very profitable. Then, a friend in Russia complained about the scarcity of poultry in markets there. Mikhailov shipped half a container of frozen chickens, then ten containers. A year later it was a shipload of containers. He’d found economic success, but he remained unfulfilled.
In 2002, while cruising aboard his 36-foot fiberglass boat in North Carolina a fire broke out, caused by a fault in a recently installed anchor windlass cable. The fire quickly engulfed the boat, forcing them to abandon her. She was a total loss. Mikhailov and his family had been cruising offshore all day, and the fire occurred after they had returned to sheltered water. The potential tragedy was not lost on him; it became yet another inspiration for building his own boat and for building it in steel.
In 2007, he started Bering Yachts, launching the business headlong, and unknowingly, into the now infamous recession. He built a 55 on spec and cruised it with his wife from North Carolina to Maine and then to Florida. They sold it in 2009. Bering has grown steadily; thus far they have completed four vessels, two 55s, a 60 and a 65, with orders now on the books for several more. As other builders sank beneath the waves, Bering continued to grow and as of this writing has four vessels are under construction—B65, B70, B77, B80.
The company offers an after-sales support service for clients in the Mediterranean. Bering’s new partner yard in China, along with Bering Naval Yachts in Turkey and a staff of 18, make up this growing concern. Their leader is a man with a passion for building in steel, and building the best steel yachts in the business.