YATCO’s broker of the month series examines the unique life experiences that brought these brokers into the world of yachting, who influenced them, and what they seek to change in the industry.
Featuring Dimitris Kyriazakos, Managing Director of EKKA Yachts
How did you get your start in yachting?
I had the privilege of growing up around boats in Greece because of my parent’s passion for the sea and boating. A passion that soon became a successful business that today counts 40 years of existence.
However, my professional career in yachting started much later, in 2003 when I took my first internship fresh out of college. This was for Ferretti Group’s importer for the United States, with offices at “the Quay” on SE17th Street in Fort Lauderdale. Ferretti had just signed a dealership agreement for the distribution of its brands with a company that was already well-known at the time, but not anywhere near the size it is today – MarineMax.
My role was multi-faceted, which was the ideal scenario for someone in his early 20s looking to find his place in the world. I did pretty much everything during those first six months. From cleaning Aquarivas and Pershings, to translating specifications, moving boats into boat shows, assisting in boat deliveries and setting-up events. My understanding of boats as well as knowledge of foreign languages helped me take on a very interesting role in the company after the first six months, which was that of the person in charge of integrating Ferretti Group’s product with a sales team that had little or no experience in selling high-end, big ticket Italian built boats.
Is there anyone in particular who influences you – someone in the industry that you look up to, and why?
One of my first influencers in the industry, who continues to inspire me, is my friend Alberto, an eccentric German-Florentine whom I met at the Ferretti office in Fort Lauderdale and who decided I spoke Italian, even though I barely spoke it. He has had an incredible journey living around the world working for amazing companies such as Benetti, Riva, and Lürssen, and is a guy who pretty much always puts a smile on my face.
Talking about mentors, I certainly have to make reference to my father, and founder of our company, who has had an incredible run in the industry and who continues to inspire me and my co-workers to be better at what we do.
Lastly, I would also like to mention someone whom I truly respect and look up to for his passion and skills: Tilli Antonelli, founder of Pershing and mastermind of Sanlorenzo’s latest project – the high-performance SP Line. Tilli has a tremendous passion for crafting new ideas that make sense for boaters with a clear desire to combine high performance with style; the equivalent to the Ferrari of the sea. He has accomplished so much in this segment, yet he remains one of the humblest guys I know.
What do you enjoy most about the yachting industry and what do you wish you could change?
I enjoy the product, and more specifically I am fascinated by design that is functional and pleasing to the eye. I am also a sucker for construction and engineering quality. Designing something beautiful or functional can happen, as well as building something of high quality. But combining all of them in such a challenging environment as the sea is something fascinating to me and very few can achieve this.
One thing I would like to change in this world is the superficial approach. It is fairly easy to make some money in yachting, especially if you are a bit daring, but it bothers me when I lose business to, or because of, people who don’t respect themselves enough to make things the right way, and instead they choose the fast way.
Do you have any advice for someone wishing to join the yachting industry?
Treat people with honesty and integrity. The yachting world is small and bad news about people travels faster than the good news. But if you build a solid reputation, then you have nothing and no one to be afraid of.
A second piece of advice is not to be disappointed. There is a client for everyone, and you just must be patient and keep going at it ruthlessly.
And the third is, keep getting out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. The most important things happen where you least expect them, so keep moving!
What are some of the challenges you come across at work, and how do you approach them?
One thing I keep reminding myself and my teammates is that you can’t do it on your own.
You have to be a team player, and this is the key driver of success in our company. We never take individual ownership of our achievements because we are a team looking to win championships, and not games.
We are a small company (15 staff) based in a small (but important) market and consistently achieve results that companies much bigger than us are envious of. Often times, new clients ask me why they should list their yacht for sale or charter with us or why they should use us to find their next yacht to buy or charter. I respond that this is a business of relationships and know-how, and what matters is not how many offices you operate or how many staff you employ, but rather, how capable the company is of committing itself to understanding the client’s individual needs and wants. Our so-called “boutique” approach retains clients and staff better than most out there and it is what brings results.
Tell us about your greatest accomplishment.
Surviving a 10-year-long financial crisis in the luxury goods business. For a number of years, people, including myself, thought we only had a few months left to live. Like all such situations, if you endure them, you come out stronger and wiser.
This experience taught me to stay loyal to a vision and principles, put my head down and work tirelessly and quietly, and keep being innovative and not afraid to change. These learnings helped our company to not only survive this period but come out bigger and stronger.
What is your favorite yacht currently for sale and why?
Yachts are such unique “creatures” because while they are not really needed by anyone, they have a magic way of making us invent reasons why we need them, when in fact we just can’t resist wanting them.
One such case for me, from the current sales market is LADY MAY, the 46m (151ft) Feadship.
She has a very unique way of being in a new class all her own, compared to all the similar length boats trying to maximize GT and deck space at the expense of beauty.
Even though this makes her unattractive to the average buyer’s eye, it is the fact that she can only be appreciated by a few that makes her so special to me!