Maurizio and Giovanni Granai, dealers for the Ferretti Group and great experts of the nautical market, have shared their story with us and talked about how this industry has changed over the past forty years
by Luca Sordelli, photo by Andrea Muscatello
Resilience is the capacity to tenaciously overcome any difficulties in life and turn moments of crisis into opportunities. A fundamental skill, which only strong-spirited and headstrong people possess. Resilient people do not settle for simple survival, they react and put their desire to smile again into play, fighting every day to win back the serenity they have lost.
Just like Maurizio Granai who, with his son Giovanni, can boast forty years of experience in boating, and a future he can face with the confidence of someone who is aware of his own strength, background, and experience. Their company is called GPY and they are dealers for Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Mochi and Itama and have offices in Lavagna, Varazze, Cala de Medici and Sanremo.
Maurizio has fought many battles in the past, overcome many storms, and collaborated with several brands. The way he speaks is highly intriguing, with his pleasant Tuscan accent and calm voice.«It all started in 1978, almost by chance. My mother is still turning in her grave, she had already found me a position in the bank».
«But instead, at the time, after graduating from the Commercial and Technical Institute, I had made up my mind to become a freelance accountant and I had even completed a two-year internship. Then I met someone who had a small business selling camping gear and small boats on the hills around Pistoia, quite far from the sea. He also had another main business, and he asked me if I could give him a hand. That’s how I started. As soon as I was able to make some independent choices, I moved gradually towards the nautical industry. Then I remained in the business as the sole owner. I always had the ambition of doing things for myself, on my own».
Giovanni listens as his father speaks and smiles as he hears this story:«I graduated in Business Administration, but what actually taught me most was working side by side with my father right away – even while I was still studying at university – learning on the field». In the past, it was called working in the shop.«Exactly, I did the first Genoa Boat Show at 17. Now I obviously work full-time in the company, but I realize that, more than learning the theory, standing next to my father and seeing how this world really works was essential».
And how do you divide your tasks today? «Generally, I deal with the region of Liguria, and dad covers Tuscany. But it is only natural that when we have to close delicate or important deals, I rely on his experience».
Concerning experience, I would like to ask you, Maurizio, how this business has changed over the past forty years. «If I think about it, I realize that during these four decades I have radically transformed my way of living at least five times. I mean, not only the places where I have lived, and all the times I have moved, but the very way of conceiving and interpreting this business. Things change very quickly, you need to adapt quickly and react. This is maybe the greatest and most difficult part of this job, being able to keep up with change. And I notice this even more today, as I compare myself with Giovanni. There are some fields of our business where I struggle more than him. His youth and his responsiveness are fundamental assets when you need to interpret and react to the situation in the nautical market today».
On the other hand, you yourself can always count on the strength you get from having overcome difficult moments: “I went through truly critical periods and other very promising ones. With time, shipowners have changed together with society. When I began working, there were still families with two incomes who could afford a small boat or an inflatable boat. That was the base of the market. Now that world has practically disappeared.
So how does this business work today? «We were forced to scale the pyramid. The so-called ‘prospects’ are fewer and fewer and there are fewer people today who can be potential shipowners. You need to look for clients in a very different way, communication and marketing are entirely different from what they were like in the ‘90s, but even just ten or five years ago. Now offices only have a representational role, you certainly cannot wait for the door to open and someone to walk in asking for a boat».
Giovanni Granai chimes in: «For a dealer, the most important thing is a good ‘business card’, a strong brand, an important name that gives you credibility. To us, working with the Ferretti Group is a guarantee. It is not only a noble name in the international nautical industry, which counts on a very long tradition, but it is also a brand that invests a lot on research and development. And it has a very precise plan to launch new models. Now the “oldest” one they have on the price list is only two years old».
In short, you are betting on the right horse. «Absolutely, Maurizio adds, but I would like to stress that many of our clients have been with us for twenty years or more, and even stuck with us through different brands. This gives us great satisfaction. It proves people’s trust in a vendor. And the history of boating, in past decades, has been full of less “virtuous” examples and regrettable episodes. Being able to talk to someone reliable is fundamental. In the beginning of the process they, the shipowners, trust us with thousands of Euros, in exchange for a piece of paper. With time you realize that mutual trust between the parties is key».
You made it through the crisis in 2008, others didn’t make it:«Those were difficult years, with much internal torment in the company. But in the end we came out of it stronger than before. We suffered, but we also learned a lot. Now we have once again reached the same turnover of 2007, but we are much more rational, more efficient than before. And we have a better corporate structure».
Do you feel the relationship between shipyard and dealer has changed as well? «Absolutely. Now we are in a Group, where you work on the medium term, with more programming, more ease. In the past, it was very different. Before 2008, it seemed that everything was going well and that organizing the chain any better was almost impossible, but then…». You were working with fake figures…«Exactly, the only thing that mattered to the shipyard was selling the highest possible number of boats to the dealer, then the dealer had a hard time getting rid of them, and consequently there was a tendency to fight wildly over prices, to take back bulky second-hand vessels, and so on. Everyone was anxious to have peak performances right away. Now you can better concentrate on the planning, on the shipowners. You no longer need to worry about the forty tonnes of boat berthed in front of your office, which are just getting old and are a cost».
If you could ask more of the Ferretti Group, what would you like for them to improve? Where should you go to sell even more boats? Daddy Maurizio Granai answers this question, without much hesitation, and with his typically Tuscan bluntness. «You need to be able to analyze the market, see what everyone else is doing, and then step one step further. All this, obviously, while maintaining competitive prices».
(GPY – Maurizio and Giovanni Granai, resilience, above all – Barchemagazine.com – October 2018)