G Marine grows with two yacht lines and a Miami River location
By Kevin Gale
Southern California was a pretty cool place for David Galante to sell boats, but South Florida is even better. His family had a marina in San Diego and exhibited at South Florida boat shows; it did so well that it was offered a dealership and opened business here four years ago.
“When you are an entrepreneur, sometimes life doesn’t give you much choice,” says Galante, who is COO of G Marine, a brokerage and new yacht dealer. “You show up, sell three boats, and the boat builder says, ‘Do you want Florida?’ We came from a place that’s a two-boat-a-year area and here, it’s a 25-boat-a-year area,”
G Marine is one of the few yacht dealers in South Florida that actually has an in-water sales operation (located on the Miami River just a few blocks east of the Miami Intermodal Center at Miami International Airport).
One advantage of the G Marine site is that it has 800 feet of slips, which allows visitors to see yachts right outside the sales office. Another advantage is that it’s far up the Miami River, which provides protection during hurricanes.
G Marine sells yachts built by Fairline, a British company that makes 38- to 78-foot yachts, and Astondoa, a Spanish builder whose custom yachts approach 200 feet. The two brands make a good combination when it comes to meeting customers’ needs, Galante says. Fairline takes more of a factory approach. “If you order a boat with the same colors as another one, you will get the same boat. There is no artisan labor built into the boat because it’s a line of production.”
On the other hand, Astondoa is a third-generation family business that offers a lot of customization. “The boats are built with a certain heritage that rolls down not only from the owner, but there are tradesmen whose parents and grandparents who have worked there. I met a carpenter who is the third generation there. He makes you run your hand through a curved veneer wall to show you how proud he is of that,” Galante says.
Like many in the industry, Galante gained an interest in boating as a child in Mexico City, where his father was a businessman. “I started boating when I was 10 and my dad bought a small 16-foot runabout with an outboard,” Galante says. “He bought the boat here in Fort Lauderdale and took it to a small lake near Mexico City. From there, my dad got bit by the bug, so to speak, and he bought a sailboat and a twin-engine speedboat.”
Galante moved to San Diego in the early 1980s. He says he got into power boating because his kids found it more interesting than sailing. He had a few mobile electronics stores that evolved into doing customization work for cars. The car work with electronics, electrical and fiberglass translated well to doing similar work on boats.
Just before the recession started in 2008, the Galante family bought into a boat dealership on San Diego’s Shelter Island, where Galante and his nephew, Alberto, who is now CEO, worked.
“To be able to work in yachts, you need to understand engines, plumbing, electronics, electric…” Galante says. “They are very complex. I tell clients they’ve bought a house that’s self-contained with a septic system and a power system and two cars because it has two engines.”
The sales process starts with an informal talk, so buyers can be guided toward what’s appropriate depending on budgets and needs. Prices can start at about $500,000 for a 30-footer and range up to more than $30 million for a 200-footer. Most of them are 42 to 110 feet.
Clients have yachts in locations ranging from Peru, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela, to New York, Maryland and Ohio, Galante says. He’s already getting repeat customers, such as an Astondoa buyer who has gone from 50 feet, to 65 feet, to 78 feet and, now, 110 feet.
Galante says he tries to be creative in working with owners. For example, G Marine invested $30,000 redoing the exterior and interior of a Scorpion yacht and put it up for sale; but the owner won’t pay for dockage and repair until the boat is sold.