Established in 1990, the Uniesse shipyard in Italy sold more than 500 powerboats and megayachts to customers worldwide. Having ceased operations several years ago, it’s returning to building semi-custom projects to 115 feet (35 meters). This, due to new ownership stepping in with new designs and, perhaps more important, a new approach to customer service.
The new owner: Uniesse Marine Group, based in Miami. It now holds all the shipyard’s assets. Two individuals with previous brand experience operate the new company. David Schwedel, executive director for Uniesse Marine Group, is a boater himself, having purchased a Uniesse 53 in 2007. “From a build side, they’re excellent yachts,” Schwedel says, adding that he and his family owned the boat for five and a half years. Joining him is Rafael Barca, who as vice president of Uniesse Marine USA was instrumental in introducing the brand to American shores in 1994. Barca oversaw about 200 Uniesse deliveries, too. Furthermore, Schwedel and Barca have known each other dating back about 25 years, building boats elsewhere in the 1990s.
They also each know several current Uniesse owners, who Schwedel says were “thrilled” to learn about the acquisition. That emotion extends to Uniesse Marine Group’s pledge to provide strong after-sales service, too. “If you don’t have service, you don’t have anything,” Schwedel asserts. Customer-service complaints were common with the original yard ownership. Schwedel encountered issues himself, often devising a workaround with Barca and the U.S.-based team. Under the new ownership, all Uniesse Marine Group design, engineering, and service work is headquartered in Miami.
“Uniesse was always an American-designed product,” Schwedel explains. “They always liked to say ‘German engineering and Italian craftsmanship.’ That said, there was a different mentality about post-delivery of the yacht. Our perspective is, the relationship doesn’t end there, it actually begins there. I know that sounds somewhat trite to say, but it’s true. Service is number one.”
Due to many current owners situated in South Florida and the Northeast, Schwedel says the team is also evaluating service relationships with independent shipyards in the Miami and New York areas. Furthermore, he says, personnel trained to the same service standard will be located in Europe.
The previous Uniesse model lineup is changing as well. The Motor Yacht and Sport series each will still include megayachts. However, some sizes will be different. The Motor Yacht series now includes a 78, a 105, and a 115. Meanwhile, the Sport series retains a 95. Regardless, styling throughout the full range will also be different. Not changing, though, is the semi-custom interior design approach.
Schwedel says the new team is already speaking with a customer about a 95 Sport. If he signs a contract, construction should start in late 2020 or early 2021. In addition, he envisions the 78, 105, and 115 models all being ready between 2020 and 2022.