Massimo Pierotti, innovation at the heart of Sanlorenzo
Massimo Pierotti received us to chat about his “baby” Sanlorenzo. This man demonstrates passion, conviction and love for what he does. During his last visit to Mexico City we met with him to tell us about the future of this beautiful shipyard, his dreams, philosophy and of course, his most recent projects in the nautical world.
Would you say that the values and standards of the initial dream from Giovanni Giannetti are still tangible within the shipyard today?
We try very hard to keep his philosophy. Since I bought the company in 2005, I have always wanted to innovate; to make new products with novelty within the tradition of Giannetti. This is not easy, when you make something new it is difficult to maintain the heritage. We make a big effort to maintain his beliefs and create innovation at the same time.
It must be a challenge for Sanlorenzo to be located 3rd place in the production of 24 meter yachts. How do you maintain this rhythm?
We have grown plenty, since 2005 to 2010 we have reached this position by keeping it as our goal. Our new conquest will be to stay there. We do not want to go bigger, our aim isn’t to be the largest or the first. We want to the best. This is Giannetti’s philosophy.
Why did you decide to purchase Sanlorenzo?
I had spent 22 years working in Azzimut-Benetti. I was CEO of the Azimut division and I was not in agreement with the owner of the company, Mr. Vitelli, about expanding the company in certain aspects. When you build a yacht like Searay, it is similar to the construction of a motorcycle, you put on a plastic and then send it to the dealer, the dealer takes away the plastic, cleans it and delivers it to the client. I believe that if you build 2,000 or 20,000 it is all the same. When you build a yacht of over 24 meters, you go above the price of 4 or 5 million dollars. the customer needs one on one time and personal service. It is not a matter of finishing the product, putting on the plastic and sending it to the dealer.
The client comes and he follows the production, he wants to design the boat. We give a follow up with care, so if you build too many you cannot take care of your client. The production of the former company was too big, too many and I had the feeling that I was losing the relationship with the customer, which is very valuable. This is the reason why I left Azimut and met Mr. Gianetti and Sanlorenzo, here we make around 15 boats per year. It has high quality, high price, good margin and not a big volume. Something like this is unique.
The idea of the SL140, how did it begin?
With the first boat made of metal. Sanlorenzo used to be a boat of fiberglass of up to 35 meters, like the case of the Sanlorenzo 108. When I bought the company I wanted to expand it by increasing the range of products. I had to make the superyachts, which are 40 meter vessels made of metal and the semi displacement in fiberglass. The first metal boat was an aluminium blend with alloy, the boat is beautiful. The new idea of the terrace has been copied by all the other shipyards in the last 3 or 4 years. We have won two prizes worldwide; one from America and one from Powerboat in England. Journalists in the nautical ambiance appreciate this yacht very much. Through the customers we have achieved to sell and build two boats per year, which is quite an achievement, considering it was the first metal yacht in the Sanlorenzo division. The first boat we built was a success, with it, we entered to the superyachts category.
With the SL and SD lines, as well as the superyachts, you have managed to create many innovations. You can achieve 18 knots of speed in semi displacement, which is pretty impressing. What other additions to the yacht industry are you planning with your products?
We have a new project in development at the moment, The 60 meter yachts. It will be the largest made by Sanlorenzo, we will be selling both of them in the next two months. This will be the biggest we will go, that was our goal and we have reached it. We will also be creating and re-designing of smaller versions, the SL62,SL72 and SL82 .
What does the new overture into the Chinese territory mean for the shipyard? What are the challenges of this venture into a new market?
The hongkong company, which is Sanlorenzo China Holding LTD is an instrument, it is a way to take the Chinese market. You cannot organize everything in China, you have to put everything in place in Hong Kong, take the ships from Italy and clear the documents to get into this territory. China is conceived as one of the most promising markets at the moment, we try to have the best service in China in order to drive as much market as possible. We are very happy to begin this new adventure with two partners, Sundiro Holding, which is a great company since it is very well organized, they have a high quality production. We are also working with Mr. Traugott Kaminski, he is German and has lived in China for fifteen years now, selling Sunseeker. He has a lot of experience in the Chinese market. We count very much with Sundiro’s and Mr. Kaminski’s help to conquer this new adventure.
What do you feel the Mexican customers are expecting from Sanlorenzo?
Amongst the South American market, which is plenty, Mexico is the most mature. Those who own a yacht in this segment have been yachting for nearly 20 years now. So now we have a lot of customers who are concours in this country. On that condition, it is essential to sell Sanlorenzo, Sanlorenzo is a vessel of concours, it is not a boat for newcomers. We have a product much more expensive than that of our competitors, we have the philosophy of tailor made, meaning that we adapt the product to your wishes. These conditions of high quality, high price and taylor made are really appreciated by customers who really know the boat industry and its business. For us, Mexico is the best market of Latin America due to its maturity. However, in the future we will be in Colombia, Peru, Chile or Brazil, but only in a few years, when they are ready. In Italy we love the Mexican costumer because it is a very nice and direct relationship.
What is the most challenging product that Sanlorenzo has ever made?
In order for this to be answered, we would have to go to the beginning of this conversation. The most challenging thing since I purchased the company in 2005 is to keep the tradition, to maintain the style of Sanlorenzo which is a classic, timeless design, we are not changing it every three years. It is like a Bently or a Rolls Royce, the lines still remain through time. We are innovating but keeping the same design, it is a signature. The most challenging situation of Sanlorenzo was to maintain the design of tradition, but in the meantime give to the customer the feeling that they were going to purchase something new. At some point, clients would speak of Sanlorenzo for the quality and the design, but would also say it was very stuck. Sometimes you have to change and make something new. My most challenging situation which I think I achieved successfully was to keep the tradition of the company. This way people wouldn’t think “After Gianetti, Perotti isn’t destroying the shipyard”. I had to give signs of innovation in the design, in the lines, in the materials, and in the shapes. We had to do it in every product, since it is custom made.
What is the part you love most about your work?
To design. A yacht is a challenge against the competitors. When I create a new boat, I make a lot of research in the market and on competitors. I ask my team to do something better, when you do something outstanding you have to be very careful not to disclose it, otherwise they copy the work. That challenge to fight and win again the competition, by making a better product is the most exciting thing for me...it is probably the most difficult as well.
What do you think is currently changing in the yacht market?
The size of the market has decreased. it will stay like this for a while. In one way this has damaged the business but it has also refreshed it. When a crisis comes, you suffer for sometime, but then it’s time to create new blood. Once this crisis has finished we will all begin an expansion, probably this will come from the orient, from China, India, Denmark. This will hopefully pull the business halfway so the West can also take part.
On behalf of all the Amura team, we are more than happy to congratulate Sanlorenzo. One month after this interview was made, the shipyard reached the second position of the Global Order Book. We want to send our best wishes to all the people who work with such dedication and love toward what they do.
Thank you for doing an amazing job.
Text: Amura ± Photo: © Sanlorenzo Yachts