One of the Fort Lauderdale yachting world’s biggest players is getting some Italian flavor. Lauderdale Marine Center, the sprawling complex to the east of I-95 on the New River’s south fork, recently made room for a big tenant’s expanded presence – the center is now the North American headquarters for the Ferretti Group.
The Italian yachting giant’s LMC expansion gives it 30,000 square feet of space including a parts and service shop, other workshops, covered sheds, dockage and office space, as well as 16 in- and out-of-water slips. Much of the expansion is based around Ferretti’s plan to offer a one-stop-shop servicing department.
“We decided to perform all of our warranty and servicing during the warranty period or after the warranty period directly, and give all of our customers an experience that none of our competitors can give,” says Stefano de Vivo, Ferretti’s chief commercial officer. “As we were making plans, looking for space, where to do it, the team at the Lauderdale Marine Center came up and offered us a very interesting space both for offices, for warehouse, for resale, for performing work on the boats, and also a number of slips. We thought this was a very bold move we could have made; we decided to take a chance. And it’s paying off.”
The result is impressive, says Colin Kiley, LMC’s executive vice president.
“It’s a yard within a yard,” he says. “Ferretti’s taking this, really, to a new level of customer service.”
LMC president Doug West says Ferretti’s expanded presence at the center brings something new and somewhat unheard of to the yachting industry.
“Unlike the automotive industry where every dealer has a service department … boatbuilders are just kind of figuring that out,” he says. Typically, he says, major yacht builders work with other companies in a boatyard to get warranty work done rather than doing that work themselves, and they don’t provide non-warranty service work at all. “This is kind of a new trend,” he says.
Offering servicing lets Ferretti deal with what de Vivo calls the stereotype of the foreign boat with no parts – or at least, impossible-to-find parts. Ferretti has moved about $4m in spare parts into the LMC warehouse, he says.
“I think especially when it comes to spare parts, maybe people have had a bad experience because there’s no spare parts in a place,” he says. That will change now. “You’re buying Italian, you’re buying foreign, but you’re buying something with spare parts as if it’s an American-built boat.”
However, with all the space LMC offered, Ferretti was able to stock all the parts it needed and still have room for more.
“Because they had such an enormous space available, which was much bigger than what we needed, we decided to take the opportunity to rent the whole space and create warehouses and workshops that are occupied now by our suppliers and subcontractors that have all of the training that the shipyards in Italy have given them to intervene on the boats,” de Vivo says. “This has created a center of excellence for our boats.”
For LMC, such a massive presence from one of yachting’s major players should be a rising tide that, no pun intended, raises all boats. LMC operates as a landlord; all the spaces in the facility are rented out to boating-related companies of different sizes and with different specialties.
“From our perspective, Ferretti is one of the largest yacht builders in the world,” West says. “If you have one of the biggest builders that has a following both for warranty work and for regular service work, that is a traffic driver for us.”
In recent years, he says, LMC has focused on bringing in a smaller number of larger tenants rather than many smaller ones; they’ve decreased the number of tenants from 72 to 30.
“It’s just a lot more efficient space; there was a lot of wasted space before,” West says. “We had a lot of very small spaces where a company may have a small office there just so they could be in the yard. Now we want companies who want to make this their home.”
But they still want to offer any service a yacht owner – or a major yacht builder like Ferretti – might need. “We’ve tried to make sure that we have the core shipyard trades represented, and not just one; we wanted to make sure we have competition like a shopping mall,” West says. “We want to be aligned with the most professional companies that can provide the most professional service these yacht owners are looking for.”
Even with major in-house capabilities, Ferretti’s presence will still mean work for other businesses in LMC and around Fort Lauderdale, Kiley says.
“Ferretti does utilize other contractors both onsite and in town,” he says. “They don’t do all of their work in-house. There’s an awful lot of work that comes through the yard that gets subcontracted to others in the yard and in town.”
For de Vivo, that ready supply of potential subcontractors is a big part of Fort Lauderdale’s appeal.
“For us, Fort Lauderdale has always been the center of our activity for all of the Americas,” he says. “Not just for the US, not just for Florida, not just for North America.”