Just off the phone with Craig Barrie, the vice president of sales and marketing for Donzi Marine, I can tell you that the man is still as energized as they come about building and selling high-performance boats. Barrie joined the Sarasota, Fla., company two years ago, which makes it the second Don Aronow-founded outfit—Barrie was the manager of Cigarette Racing Team for several years—he’s been part of.
At present, Donzi is building boats to order. Barrie said that Donzi plans to build and sell 70 boats this year.
“We’ll make exceptions going into shows and for special dealers, but right now I’m only building boats I have orders for,” said Barrie. “We have nine orders right now, and I expect two or three more by the end of the week.
“The high-performance boat industry is changing,” he added. “Pardon the cliché, but the old way of doing business isn’t going to work.”
Barrie was referring to the days when Donzi built up to 200 boats a year. But with the disappearance of dealer floor-plan financing, as well as the consumer credit crunch, those days are gone. And according to Barrie, that might not be such a bad thing.
“When you produce boats in that volume, you lose the creative side,” he explained. “You simply can’t be creative and do 200 boats a year. “
“We are going make and sell 70 boats this year, absolutely,” he added.
Barrie said he expects a healthy segment of those sales to come from overseas. Like Cigarette, Barrie noted, Donzi has considerable brand recognition abroad.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with two companies that have U.S. and global branding—that’s a big advantage,” said Barrie. “I’ve sold to clients overseas I’ve never met, and when I came to Donzi they followed me. The people at Donzi have allowed me to upgrade the product from options to performance—if you’ve seen some of our boats lately, you see a new level of customization.
“Customers here and aboard have been watching what we’re doing,” he added. “People are recognizing that Donzi is a different company than it was.”
According to Barrie, Donzi has whittled down its 52-boat inventory that it had when he joined the company to six boats. Asked how that was accomplished, Barrie said, “I got lucky.” Then he elaborated.
“We put all of those boats on the “Featured Inventory” part of our web site,” he said. “But really, here’s what I think the key to it is: I always call people back, I’m always there for a service call and I work seven days a week. That’s how my father did it, and that’s how we have to do things now.”
In other Donzi news:
•Later this week, the company will deliver an all-black center-console model to Greg Rosen, the driver of the 50-foot-long Mystic Aqua Mania/G3 turbine powered racing catamaran.