A young brand, but built on solid know-how. They set out with clear ideas, a deep knowledge of the market, and loads of passion. The first model was a great success, and the plans for the future are enticing
by Luca Sordelli – photo by Andrea Muscatello
Four against one. It could have been a very difficult interview. At the Genoa Boat Show, I was welcomed aboard the 340 Regina by Corrado Piccinelli, owner and sales manager of FIM; Manuela Barcella, company director, who handles relations with clients and dealers, administration and is involved in the development of new projects; Paolo Ferragni, of Ferragni Progetti, designer and technical director, and finally Vannis Marchi, one of the two co-founders of Liu-Jo and a shareholder of FIM, as well as the owner of an FIM’s boat. In short, the complete High Command.
FIM is a young brand, founded in 2019, and fuelled by the passion that distinguishes those who must conquer the world, but led by people with twenty years of experience in the nautical industry, gained by working in production with large shipyards, but also in the field of refitting and service. In other words, a great mix of enthusiasm and wisdom, and a great team to answer my questions as a group, showering me with information, projects, and visions. I’ll start with the basics.
The first model is the 340 Regina. Why start precisely with this model to launch a new brand? Corrado Piccinelli replies: «We needed to introduce ourselves to the market with an entry-level boat, something easy to manage and sail, even on your own, a competitively priced boat. It was a starting point for creating a clientele». «At the same time», adds Paolo Ferragni, «we wanted to immediately give people an idea of how we can transform a boat, even a small one, from all points of view: we can change materials, colors, types of canopy, engines and many elements can be moved around to meet more functional needs on board».
The proof of what they’re telling me is tangible. I’m sitting in the cockpit of the 340 Regina where the table, with five seats around it, can be quickly transformed into a large sundeck. «Usually – as Ferragni continues – small boats don’t offer so much choice. The FIM team’s previous experience in boat construction, sales, and after-sales has led us to know in advance what owners want, even though we are still a young brand on the market. To propose what others don’t offer». «Our range – adds Piccinelli – is not designed for large-scale boating, but seeks to be a true interpretation of Made in Italy». Manuela Barcella intervenes: «Our artisanal quality is recognised and appreciated. Right here at the Show, we had clear proof of this. The brand’s appeal comes from the fact that even a 34-footer can be highly customised. Giving people the chance to choose makes us very proud».
Now, speaking of the Boat Show. How did the market react to your arrival? «This was our first time participating in the real Genoa Boat Show – says Piccinelli – the one in 2020, as we all know, was a bit strange. The surprising thing is that this year the people who arrived and wanted to visit the boats already knew almost everything. There is already a lot of buzz around our brand. We’re not so new anymore».
FOR THE 2022 SEASON, THERE’S A NEW 47’ READY TO BE PRESENTED, WHICH IS CALLED 470 REGINA AND IT WILL FEATURE AN INNOVATIVE BOW AREA ON THE DECK. FOR THE FUTURE, WE ARE STARTING TO DESIGN A 60’.
A small boat, proposed by a new brand, with very personal shapes. Is the 340 Regina for young people? This is where the designer immediately jumps in. «Yes, if we are talking about design with contrasting, visible, and recognisable colors. But we don’t just want to focus on a young clientele. And in fact, we also have skilled owners. In addition, when you change the configuration, you also change the spirit of the boat significantly. For example, it can be racier with outboard engines and more family-friendly with EFBs».
I asked Vannis Marchi what is his opinion on these guys… «They’re telling the truth. Maybe I’d also point out that this boat can reach 50 knots with outboard engines. This is not bad…».
How did you discover FIM? «I am thrilled to have joined this very, very interesting project. I’ve always been passionate about boating and for ten years Corrado Piccinelli has been handling my boats with excellent results, fairness, and availability. And I would like to stress that I sail a lot and steer the boat on my own. I know what I want when I’m sailing».
OK, I’ll try to summarise: FIM means Transformability, Speed, Innovation… what do you stand out for? Piccinelli: «Made in Italy».Ferragni: «Resilience». Marchi: «Passion. Which is a bit of the seasoning that ties all this together». «Exactly – adds Piccinelli – we’re talking about the desire to improve and challenge yourself. We are a start-up company and we approach the market with modesty. We roll up our sleeves and interpret the requests».
How do you see the market? Everyone here in Genoa is optimistic. Do you share that feeling? Piccinelli: «Yes, we are having a lot of requests to view the boats. So many possible clients and many of them are truly interesting. We have already set up a real, extensive sales network in Italy, but also in France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Balkans. Even in the USA».
What are your goals in terms of numbers? «When we’re fully operational we’ll produce a boat every 20 days. So by next year we’ll have 14/15 340 Regina, plus three 470 Regina units».
Are these optimistic calculations or real ones?«If the suppliers allow it, they are real. As you know, the problem now is sourcing certain raw materials».
Let’s talk about the future, what lies ahead. You just mentioned the 470 Regina… She’ll be arriving in May 2022. A beautiful boat, with surprising spaces and an option between outboard or Ips». «The family feeling will be very strong with the 340 – Piccinelli continues – but each model will have the characteristics that will make it different from what’s already on the market. The 470 Regina, for instance, will have a revolutionary bow, with a sunbathing area, which can be shifted and a pool in the center». «On this boat – as Manuela Barcella points out – we’ve also optimised the use of space, which means more liveable volumes for the same length. This is a fundamental weapon for competing on the market».
And what about an even longer-term future? «That is up to them to decide – says Marchi – but as a partner by passion and as an entrepreneur, so someone always projected towards the future, we are starting to design a 60’». «This is also what the market is beginning to demand – adds Ferragni – it is a significant step forward. But the FIM team has been working for many years with shipyards that make even larger ships. We have the know-how to get there».
OK, that’s all very good, lots of enthusiasm. But what are some of the critical points, again given the future? Piccinelli is quick in his reply: «The generational change of skilled workers. This will be a problem for the whole sector. Plenty of deliveries, growing numbers, and compressed times, also because suppliers are struggling due to the international situation. There is little time for teaching. The challenge for the future is to manage this issue at best. Experience is the best teacher. After the crisis in 2008, I reinvented myself in the world of refitting and service. I created work, holding on to the people who mattered, the people of value, even people coming from other yards that didn’t survive, and I always tried to give my employees a vision for the future».
So, to conclude, another keyword to describe FIM could be “People”? «Yes, absolutely, the human value, now more than ever, is priceless».
(FIM – Fabbrica Italiana Motoscafi, thirst for victory – Barchemagazine.com – March 2022)