Zar Formenti inflatable boats in great form at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. The big stand arranged by the company hosted a dozen of RIBs, representing about a third of the 30 models built by the Milan-based brand. An important occasion for an Italian brand traded in the US market, where inflatable boats are generally seen as a synonym with tender, still far from the idea of main boat.
“ We entered the US market about 10 years ago. In the first three years, we just invested and carried out important marketing campaigns to let the others know our solidity even before our products. Something attractive can draw the American yachtsman’s attention but he will never invest in someone who might disappear at any moment and leave him with no assistance. We managed to convince the US customers with a constant work consisting of different aspects, all necessary to face this market”. With these words, Piero Formenti, the founder of the Italian boatyard, describes the Zar Formenti’s overseas activity.
More specifically, the company’s growth and success are both the result of a precise strategy focused on the unmistakable Italian – or, maybe, the best attribute in this case would the “Milan-based” – build quality in addition to a stable, extensive sales network. Today, the brand is traded in the West Coast, the East Coast and the Great Lakes area by nine dealers. More recently, a new dealer based in Tampa, Florida, has joined the Zar Formenti’s sales network to enlarge the presence of the brand throughout the American territory.
” Moreover, 50 among our bestselling models are immediately available at our US dealers and distributors. This way, delivery times become shorter. This possibility becomes even more precious along the northernmost coasts, where summertime is quite short: faster delivery means an important advantage, of course”, continues Piero Formenti.
A well-organized assistance network is another essential element. ” We wouldn’t be sincere if we said that we have never had any troubles with deliveries in the USA. However, they were all solved quickly and efficiently and this was essential to promote our company since it proved our customer focus. The subsequent word of mouth is the best advertisement, you know”.
Furthermore, the creation of the Zar Tender line, a range which was custom designed for the American market, was another key to the international success of the company. First of all, all the models of the line have to comply with Epa standards that, in terms of filters, fuel tanks and some other boat components, are even more inflexible than ISO/CE ones. For the American yachtsman, a RIB is just a tender, or better, the only possible tender. ” The term “RIB” – rigid inflatable boat – universally used to define rigid-keel inflatable boats is still unknown in the USA“, explains the vice chairman of Ucina, “this is why we have preferred to build the best luxury tender they could imagine. Far from being an attractive yet affordable product, a 3-meter Zar Tender boat costs at least € 12,000.00 because it boasts high-quality materials and extraordinary design”.
The American yachtsman who puts his RIB, preferably fitted with an outboard rather than a water-jet motor, on the transom of his boat wants a beautiful tender, an elegant, high-quality yacht accessory, something that can enhance the overall beauty of the boat. And the fact that Zat boats are designed in Milan is an additional value. ” Milan is the world capital of design. That’s not me saying that. When talking about Made in Italy, people are generally attentive and benevolent. But when you say “Made in Milan”, their eyes shine“, the businessman explains.
Finally, the fact that it is a member of NMMA (National Maritime Manufacturer Association, the US sister of the Italian Confidustria) and of Ucina, of which Piero Formenti is the vice chairman ( he was also appointed as the Chairman of Ebi, European Boating Industry, last June), is a further evidence of how strongly Zar Formenti believes in the strengths of the overseas market.