Since its foundation in Newport Beach, California in 1967 Ullman Sails has always gone about its business in a slightly different way, blending core knowledge with local talent to inspire a global network.
It is a glowing testament to the vision of Dave Ullman that the sailmaking company he founded over 50 years ago continues to thrive and succeed with pretty much the same structure he created. Comparisons with the laidback, chilled-out west coast vibe of the time would be entirely accurate. This is an organisation that is driven by an all-consuming passion for sailing, one that nurtures talent, takes great pride in its successes and learns from its occasional failures too.
The current management has kept Dave’s organic structure because it’s responsive, proactive and delivers pathways to innovation, so Ullman Sails is still about competing, creating, sharing knowledge, learning, improving – and having fun – as a global community of sailmakers.
‘Ullman Sails is essentially different,’ explains head of design Bruce Hollis. ‘It’s an amalgamation of very skilled independent sailmakers who aren’t always operating big lofts, but who have developed skills in their particular niche and sail at a really good level. They love the spontaneity, the creative freedom and responsibility our structure gives them.
‘We use a central design office to provide a skilled and knowledgeable point through which these lofts can interact. This connects the ideas and experience of a very large group of hands-on sailmakers to form a giant organic sail design brain. The range of conditions and customer expectations that this covers is amazing, and also brings together skills that inform the group across what a club racer in a dinghy might want, or a cruising multihull in Singapore, an iceboat racer in Russia or a skiff sailor in Europe.