“We like to think of ourselves as a superyacht boutique,” explains a smiling Michele Gavino as I sit down with the Baglietto CEO to talk about the recent developments at the shipyard. And there has never been a better time to do so. With a robust and bold scheme in place to not only increase production but also enhance the Baglietto family-feel that these yachts have enjoyed in the past, the brand is now in better hands than it has ever been - and it clearly shows.
2012 was the start of a new chapter for Baglietto with the Gavio Group, lead by the Gavio family, taking over the 160-year-old company with the aim of setting a new course for the brand that has been etched into Italian shipbuilding history. To achieve this, Mr Gavio knew he would have to surround himself with the right people and, following an intensive initial build-up period, Michele Gavino subsequently joined the company at the end of 2015 as General Manager. Now fully immersed in the Baglietto business as Chief Executive Officer, Gavino seems to have a clear vision of what is to happen next in order to take things to the next level.
Gavino can be seen as a ‘newcomer’ to the yachting industry, essentially having only had 18 months to get his head around the ins and outs of the business so far. His extensive business career has seen him operate in several different industries – from aviation and motor homes to beer production at Peroni and a short stint in the chemical field – but none involving any yachts. So how has the adjustment phase been for him? “I was fortunate to be able to rely on my background in manufacturing in order to contribute to redeveloping the Baglietto brand. But on the other hand, I still had to learn a lot, even though building yachts are in certain ways very similar to building aeroplanes. Both fields are closely connected to classification societies where design and manufacturing need to satisfy certain rules and regulations.”
It doesn’t take long for me to realise that Gavino, like many other successful and also up-and-coming CEOs in the business, holds a new-age way of thinking towards the future of the world of yachting. A man with one eye on the bottom line and the other firmly fixed on the experience of the client, Gavino seems to be quite comfortable behind the wheel of Baglietto’s prospects.
How does the yachting world compare to the ever-changing industries of aviation and automotive?
This industry is a bit strange and, in many ways still a bit old, in my view. I think that the most important areas where things need to be refined are the supply chain and the production areas. Every owner will ask you to reduce build and delivery times and this is something we need to take into account in the planning phase and which needs to be improved.
What needs to change then, in your opinion?
Our business is an extremely self-referenced world, especially at the supply-end of things. For this to change, I feel a lot of pushing and convincing will be required, as well as the forming of partnerships with the right people; key suppliers who understand that the world is changing. And with such people on your side, you can achieve a lot more.
Photo by blueiprod
In which ways are Baglietto being reinvented internally?
The reason we are still here today is that we are constantly looking to reinvent and improve the company and the brand. Since the very beginning, I tried to push the shipyard into a new age, thinking about a new way of design as well as manufacturing and assembly. This was all because of my background outside of yachting. In 2016, for instance, we decided to bring on board several new local designers, and we will soon do so again with international designers too. I think both Hot Lab andSantaMariaMagnolfi have done a great job as each of their designs are quite unique and fresh, but both managing to retain that sense of Baglietto style.
What element of your job would you say is the most important?
A key element for me is to have a flexible team of people. Individuals who can quite easy jump from one project to the other and express their skills in many different ways. We are only 50 full-time employees, and what I ask from each of my team is to be flexible and always do their best, even if they have to do something that they don’t normally do. It is also what is expected of me and the rest of the managerial team - we travel between Europe, Fort Lauderdale, Singapore and beyond to get the job done.
How will the newly-built facility in La Spezia affect your potential production?
If we manage to build three to four yachts per year we will be very happy. Right now we deliver an average of two projects per year, so in five years our aim would be to arrive at that level of production, meaning we would have to essentially double our current work load. The infrastructure is in place to maintain such a cycle, and I have a board that is fully committed to this idea.
What does it mean to the brand having a Baglietto yacht owner as the company President?
It is a real reference. We often consult Mr Gavio whenever there is any doubt regarding a project or questions we might have about the layout for example. I can go to him and rely on his first-hand experience to help get a different perspective on things. He answers as an owner would – a heavy-use owner with many years of experience and who is in love with yachting. And this has proved to be very useful to us. His drive and passion have become a beacon to us all.
Will Baglietto still be here in the next 150 years?
For sure. It is a company with a tremendous history and heritage, and I think today there is a new Baglietto at work. I am very lucky because I joined the company only after the new start-up period, so I found the new shipyard in a near completed stage with a lot of infrastructure and systems in place. And this gives me the confidence to look at the future in a positive way.