The Maestros Page 3

The Maestros

Part 3: It is a typical Ferretti tactic, keeping the eggs in different baskets.

By Alan Harper - November 2003


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Ferretti raced cars, motorbikes, go-karts, and sailboats in his younger days and in the early 1990’s started offshore powerboat racing. In his hi-tech, carbon-fiber Class 1 catamaran, with two 800-hp Lamborghini V-12s, he became world champion in 1994. “We learned a lot,” he recalls. “It sounds strange, but the main thing I learned was the importance of the team. Because in the race, each component has the same importance: the throttle man, the last of the mechanics, the guy who cleans the windshield before the start—each is as important as the driver, and I won a lot only because my team was excellent.”

Ferretti and I have met at a press event at Genoa’s aquarium, where journalists and dolphins scrutinize each other through thick glass. It is an important occasion. Beginning in 1998 Ferretti embarked on its unprecedented shopping spree, acquiring Custom Line, Pershing, and Bertram, then megayacht builder CRN the following year, Riva in 2000, Apreamare in August 2001, and finally, in November of that year, the factory but not the molds of defunct Mochi Craft, around which there has been a mysterious silence for the last year and a half.

We are here for the announcement of the relaunch of Mochi and the presentation of its first product, the 51 Dolphin. It’s a Downeast lobster boat look-alike, the last thing you’d expect from an Italian yard, but it’s exceptionally handsome and sure to be a hit at the autumn shows. The Italian press is enthusiastic, supportive; no one mentions Hinckley.

So from being a mainstream builder of flying-bridge cruisers, Mochi Craft now finds itself a niche producer of a distinctive style of boat that complements the other products of the group. It is a typical Ferretti tactic, keeping the eggs in different baskets. But his handling of the eggs has also been skillful. Ferretti says post tax profits for the group nearly doubled last year: $31.6 million against $16.8 million in 2001. Pershing and Apreamare are reportedly doing well. Custom Line has helped create a new market for large production yachts. Riva’s new boats are the most exciting models to come out of the yard since the Aquarama, and the way their style echoes the fabulous looks of the old Rivas has been widely admired. And Bertram reportedly recorded sales of $42 million in 2002 and will soon unveil a new retro-style 31 in homage to the sainted Moppie.

But all things must pass. Both Vitelli and Ferretti must start to think about who might succeed them. For Ferretti, typically, it is simple: “It is the same everywhere. If you have a good manager, you have a successor. If you don’t, you don’t. The secret is not to centralize everything on yourself.”

Vitelli, typically, is planning carefully. He admits to already thinking about who will take over Azimut, although he has no immediate plans to retire. “We will all have a succession problem,” he predicts. “The next five years will show some winners—and some losers.”

Interesting times, indeed.

Previous page > Part 2: After all these years in business, Ferretti still manages to retain the optimism of an adventurer. > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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