Born in Regensburg, Germany, David moved to Chicago at the age of three, spending his childhood on the shores of Lake Michigan. After serving in the US Marine Corps, he and a friend spotted a gap in the market for a full-service custom photo lab and, in January 1974, Ross-Ehlert Photo Labs was born. Over the course of 20 years, the company grew to more than 200 employees, serving thousands of international photographers, ad agencies, and Fortune 500 accounts across two locations in Chicago and Orlando. David exited at the right time, selling in 1992.
The following year, David made his first splash into the yachting industry, acquiring custom yacht builder Burger Boat Company. He would stay there for 16 years, spearheading its transformation into a world-class state-of-the-art yacht design/construction business. David revamped the shipyard and mustered a 500-strong team across the main offices in Wisconsin, brokerage/charter in Florida, and international sales in Monaco. 36 superyachts ranging between 25 and 48 metres came to fruition during his tenure.
In 2009, David ironically sidestepped from ‘Burgers’ to ‘Dogs’ – hot dogs to be precise. Embracing his inner foodie, he escalated from a humble hot dog stand (Dr Dawg) to a modest chain of three restaurants. Having scratched a seven-year gastronomic itch (and perfected the ultimate Chicago-style hot dog) David returned to yachting in 2016 as CEO of the US division of international brokerage, charter and management group YACHTZOO LLC, based in Florida. In 2019, he transferred his skills to Miami brokerage Reel Deal Yachts as VP of the superyacht division.
Having observed Hamilton Marine from the other side of the Atlantic, watching it flourish into one of the most innovative marine consultancies in European yachting, David approached Jonathan with a view to taking it stateside – of course he jumped at the chance. With an incredible ability to inspire, energise, and connect with people at all levels, David’s vision and extensive maritime experience were exactly what Hamilton Marine International needed as it quietly expanded its geographic reach.
David lives in Fort Lauderdale and thoroughly enjoys the tropical lifestyle. His multifarious hobbies include motorcycling, ELR (extreme long-range) competitive shooting, high-intensity exercise, oil-painting and cooking – not just hot dogs.
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“Having a yacht is a reason for being more cheerful than most.”