I will tell you the truth about Roland C.and SailBreeze Sailing School. For readers it is a warning. For Roland it will be a reminder of his lack of honor. For me it is a record of events I will never forget.
Roland got started with sailing 3 years ago, February 2019, when he joined an IYT sailing course at SailQuest, the #1 Sailing School in Thailand. He had recently retired and moved to Thailand and was looking for ways to fill his time as he settled into his new lifestyle.
As the director and chief instructor at SailQuest I encouraged him to get more involved with sailing which he did, joining in on a SailQuest Yacht Delivery from Ocean Marina to Port Klang, Malaysia and another SailQuest Mile Builder Voyage over the next year or so.
During this time Roland and I met up on occasion and he began to make a habit of sitting in on the last day of our scheduled sailing classes, having his lunch and observing our student exam process. We discussed the possibility of his getting more involved with SailQuest and I put him on track to get his IYT Instructor Certificate.
We also discussed other ways Roland could work with SailQuest on the admin side of things and so considering his business experience and computer skills it wasn't too surprising when Roland showed up one day and announced he was building a website because he had nothing better to do and just wanted to see if he could do it. He asked me if he could use the site to promote the SailQuest Sailing School's IYT training courses and other sailing events and if he could use the SailQuest and IYT branding on the website pages.
When he told me he was calling the site SailBreeze Sailing School I objected. The name is nearly identical to SailQuest Sailing School and I was concerned about diluting my SailQuest brand and causing unnecessary and unwanted confusion in search results and various marketing platforms.
Roland assured me that he was only doing a little experimenting and that the SailBreeze site was created to promote SailQuest Sailing School and if it didn't work out, or if there were any issues, it would be taken down.
Over the years, I have spent a huge amount of time and money building and promoting my SailQuest brand. Under any other situation I would have not have agreed to this proposal or the use of a copy-cat name. But i trusted Roland and what was presented as a friendly effort to support my business. I had no reason to suspect that he may try to take personal advantage of the situation or that he had any desire to go into business, certainly not the sailing school business, for himself.
And so, putting my concerns aside and even feeling a little guilty to have mentioned the potential for abuse, which had drawn a pained reaction from Rolando, I gave him permission to use my SailQuest and IYT branding and to have a crack at finding some sailing school customers.
This permission came with one over-riding and inflexible condition: any and all contacts or leads generated thru the SailBreeze/SailQuest website (or any other platform where our branding was used) containing any reference to sailing school, sailing courses, learn to sail, yacht training, sailing lessons or other related terms be forwarded directly to me without interference of any kind. Those contacts belong to SailQuest.
And Roland agreed in full. Soon the website was launched, good efforts were made in SEO and marketing, some leads appeared and SailBreeze was on the job.
For a while now Roland had been looking for a yacht of his own. I agreed to inspect and join sea trials on boats being considered as I have done for many SailQuest students and in late September 2020 he took the plunge on a well equipped Beneteau 41,1 Clipper. After completing initial needed repairs and struggling a bit with the realities of ownership he formed a partnership on the boat with another SailQuest student i had introduced him to and together they have continued to look after the yacht and gain more sailing experience.
And as our man settled into yacht ownership the SailBreeze site began to grow... along with all the fake intentionally misleading photos of yachts, sexy bikini models and copied posts, a charter section appeared featuring Roland's yacht and he began to run an occasional day trip. Other marina services were added to the site and it was obvious that he was now building his own brand and going into business for himself.
I don't know if he was lying to me from the start and masterminding a plan to start a copy-cat business or he decided somewhere along the way to disregard our agreement and continue to develop the SailBreeze brand on his own.
Either way, Roland had brought things to a point where he was ready to break off with SailQuest. But rather than be honest and upfront, he started cherry picking the leads and started working them on his own, even when sailing school related messages were received and while the SailQuest and IYT logos were being displayed on the SailBreeze site. I let this go on for a while, not wanting to confront his blatant dishonesty and trying to figure out how a person who i thought was a friend could be intent on damaging my business and my livelihood.
When I finally called him out for breaking his promises and withholding SailQuest leads, he was very happy to take my branding off his site. Now he was free, ready to push SailBreeze Sailing School to the next level. The SailQuest branding has done its job to the end, as irresistible bait, the only credential needed to form a hasty partnership with Island Breeze Sailing School. This was a clever move for Roland because it gave him an excuse to continue searching for sailing school customers and capitalize on the dirty deeds he had played and was a intentional middle finger to me personally.
I don't appreciate being taken advantage of, Roland has not tried to explain his harmful activities to me. He seems to be quite happy stealing my business name, a name I have developed for over 13 years even though he knows that it could effect my business. Other than pointing out his recent malicious activity, I have never had any problems or knowingly given him any reason to justify his actions.
It is a mystery. He is not making the best choices and I would like to know why, but I haven't heard back from him yet:
From: Captain Tim
Sent: Wednesday, February 9, 2022 22:45
To: Roland C.
Subject: I have no problem with fair competition.
Hello Roland, you told me you were building a website using the name SailBreeze in order to promote SailQuest Sailing School. You asked my permission to use the SailQuest branding and I agreed, under the condition that any contacts relating to SailQuest business (sailing school, sailing courses, yacht training, learn to sail, etc.) be forwarded to me directly. You agreed to this arrangement.
I have suspected for some time now that you were not upholding your end of this agreement and have been handling at least some sailing school type contacts on your own, while still keeping the SailQuest branding on your website. This was confirmed when you booked a customer whose original contact clearly mentioned his interest in sailing courses, but you decided not to forward to me until I asked you directly. I will guess that this is not the only time you have broken your promise and violated the agreement.
Because you have proven yourself to be untrustworthy and deceitful, I requested that you remove links and reference to SailQuest from your website and any other locations where we could be associated. This exposed more deception on your part, namely your long term intention to attempt to offer learn to sail lessons on your own or with others.
Competition is part of doing business and I am happy to deal with it. There is plenty of room in the yacht training and charter market and many niches to tap into. Thru fair competition, those of us in this market actually help each other to expand, grow and improve our businesses.
Fair competition is about building your own brand and products. There may be standard models to follow, but when you choose to name your business to nearly exactly match another business in the same market and at the same location, you have made the choice to encroach on and interfere with your competitor. You have made to choice to not build your own brand but to misleadingly associate yourself with an existing brand. Because this is likely to dilute the copied brand, especially in the world of web-based marketing, it is generally considered an underhanded business practice.
SailQuest Sailing School vs. SailBreeze Sailing School – I am sure you can see the similarities.
When you first mentioned that you would use the SailBreeze name, I raised a concern that it was too similar to SailQuest. You assured me that you were only using the name to promote SailQuest Sailing School.
Now that you are not promoting SailQuest it would be appropriate for you to ditch SailBreeze and come up with a business name of your own. This will open the door for fair and friendly competition in the future. The possibilities are endless, Island Breeze, for example. Let me know if you need help coming up with a unique business name.
It would be appreciated if you make a change now. It is the fair thing to do.