Giovanna Vitelli talks to DN – Benetti celebrates its 150th birthday and looks to the future
Daily Nautica interviews the president of the Azimut Benetti Group, Giovanna Vitelli: "This is the story of two families who have always been known throughout the industry for their values, where their employees are important, and where their word had meaning”
Daily Nautica, during the celebration for the the Italian shipyard, Benetti‘s 150the birthday, had the pleasure of interviewing Giovanna Vitelli, who has recently begun leading Azimut Benetti. Before her, leading the top group in the world in the production of superyachts, according to the Global Order Book, was her father, Paolo Vitelli.
Passion, dedication, care, empathy for others, respect, innovation and sustainability. These are the keystones for the president of Azimut Benetti, as we can hear clearly during our interview.
This year we are celebrating 150 years of Benetti, how does it feel?
It’s really moving because this is much more than a birthday – it’s a tribute to a huge part in the history of boating. It isn’t just a celebration of our shipyard. Here in these wall there have been some of the first revolutions in the boating industry.
The shipyard was founded in 1873, and went through one of its first revolutions in the mid 1960s, thanks to Lorenzo Benetti, who invented the modern concept for megayachts – moving from building wooden sailing boats to motor boats. He created these timeless and elegant boats whose names, Gabbiano, Delfino have become legendary icons. So much so that the jet set of the time used to choose them. Why was this revolutionary? Because they were moving on from wood to a new material – metal.
The second revolution was brought on by my father, who acquired the shipyard in 1985, when he reinvented these elegant and timeless boats – the Benetti Classica series still remains unbeaten in number of sales, because in ten years they made nearly a hundred.
I was nine years old when he acquired the shipyard, and I remember him coming home and saying, “I have just bought the absolute gem of the boating world.” Which is what this is. It makes me emotional, because he knew how important it was to preserve and pass on this gem through this fil rouge of innovation; but also through keeping it a family. This is the story of two families who have always been known throughout the industry for their values, for their skills and the importance of their employees, and where their word had meaning. They were gentlemen of their time. First the Benetti family and then my father who carried on the legacy, and which I now feel the responsibility, duty and joy of continuing.
In regard to innovation we are doing very well. The boat behind me, the Oasis, is the result of this new era – mine and that of my partners – we decided to again revolutionize the yachting world, while maintaining this elegance which is an integral part of the Benetti brand. The idea of reembracing nature and living closer to the water with this deck, the Oasis Deck, is very cool and modern, while still keeping the timelessness that these boats have.
So these were the first steps. We have some good ideas for the future on the drawing board. My inheritance is noble, heavy but it makes me proud to carry it on.
What is the biggest thing you feel your father has passed on to you?
The passion for yachts. This is an industry that, even in spite of its size is very simple. You build a good yacht and you are a winner, you build a bad one and you lose. It is a lot of dedication and a lot of love.
What will Benetti look like in the future?
In the future Benetti will be a company that preserves the values of the past, but I also see the need for a bit of modernization in organization, company structure. In this modern world we are a big company – our Group has 2,200 employees and I truly believe in transparency and modernity in organization, where people have clear roles, and where we also create new, more contemporary roles as well. I truly believe in our research for sustainability – it is more than just words but facts. Everyone talks about the future of the world, but meanwhile Benetti is the only one who has, in the water, a hybrid with a 70% reduction in NOx. So, it isn’t a premise for a distant future, but a fact of today. Not to mention that within the Group, where we benefit from joint research, we have, with Azimut’s planning models, already been able to produce models with 30% less consumption, thanks to the pure application of boating culture: hull shape, propulsion, lightening the object.
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