“We’re excited! It’s a good opportunity for the family and company.”
So say Dick Lazzara, chairman of Lazzara Yachts, the family-owned and -operated company that he and his brother Brad founded about 20 years ago in Tampa, Florida. Lazzara Yachts recently received capital from The Crest Group, a New York-based real estate development company focused on both residential and commercial properties. It also invests in non-related small to midsize companies. The goal is to permit Lazzara Yachts to expand its offerings into both smaller and larger yachts as well as open sales centers in many international cities.
In exclusive interviews, both Dick Lazzara and the principal of The Crest Group provide details on how the partnership came to be and what the future holds.
Dick Lazzara says he and Enrico Scarda, managing partner of The Crest Group and the owner of an Azimut 58, met at the most recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. They talked about how both of their families enjoy boating, he continues, and about business. Indeed: Scarda explains, “I’ve been following Lazzara for a couple of years from a business standpoint.” He says the fact that “Lazzara has always been an innovative company” and has “a good product” convinced him he needed to meet Dick. No details have been released on how much funding was received or what stake was acquired, but the Lazzaras still maintain control of the company.
Lazzara says that even before he met Scarda, he had been examining new business models for the shipyard. One important consideration: expanding the model lineup. While the LSX78 has been a good starting point, and as much as he anticipates the new 76 Breeze (above) will be well received, “We have to get people into the family earlier,” he says. The capital investment will therefore help Lazzara establish semicustom yachts starting in the 50-foot range. This doesn’t mean Lazzara is abandoning the 100-foot-plus megayacht realm, however. Lazzara says the in-house design team is presently redesigning the 116 and will introduce a 130-foot model as well. “One hundred and thirty is the sweet spot,” Lazzara says, adding that yachts larger than that involve far more customization, which “is not our core business.” All told, Lazzara Yachts expects to present five new models within the next two years.
Lazzara wouldn’t go into details on what those models would feature, preferring instead to say, “You need to be on the forefront of innovative design.” He says it’s also key to convince the consumer “This is value, this is innovation.” Being a privately held company, he continues, Lazzara Yachts can take risks that larger and/or public companies cannot.
Some people may view expanding into more than two dozen new markets as a risk, too, but neither Lazzara nor Scarda share that view. While they include a base in New York as well as Russia, Greece, and Turkey, they also include emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil. They further include locations in Japan and Taiwan. In fact, Scarda says, “We believe these markets are interesting. …We want to be the first ones there.” Lazzara says, “You just have to be in more marketplaces than America,” adding that Rich Lazzara, vice president of Lazzara International Yacht Sales, has been researching new markets for much of the past few years. Rich Lazzara writes on the company’s blog, “For decades this has been my goal. To grow Lazzara to a worldwide recognized brand, with distribution and yachts all around the world.”
“We want to continue to innovate, create new things,” Lazzara says.