Pearlson: A legacy of excellence
Pearlson Shiplift Corporation has been responsible for the drydocking and transfer of some of the largest vessels...…
A family-owned business with a global footprint, Pearlson Shiplift Corporation is a rare find in the yachting world. As the inventor of the modern shiplift system, Raymond Pearlson is responsible for transforming the way vessels can now be transferred ashore. The rich heritage of the Pearlson family legacy dates back to 1957 when Raymond invented his first shiplift in Miami, later patented and branded as ‘Syncrolift’. As a result of the innovative technology and popularity in the private and government sectors, his company was acquired by UK based NEI in 1979 and became part of Rolls Royce ten years later. At the behest of previous shipyard clients worldwide, Raymond’s son Douglas Pearlson reconstituted a dedicated shiplift company rebranded as Pearlson Shiplift Corporation, with Raymond’s granddaughter Kelly Pearlson Fraind leading the management team today.
“Between 1957 and today, more than 250 shiplift installations have been designed and built under the leadership of the Pearlson Family,” explains Bryan Fraind, executive vice president of Pearlson Shiplift Corporation. Half of the projects carried out by Pearlson are within the yachting industry (with the others focused on military and government contracts). “Essentially, if a shipyard wants to lift a vessel over 1,000 tons, they contact us,” he remarks.
The expertise of Pearlson is evident across the world in some of the leading superyacht shipyards. A fundamental reason for the company’s success is the direct correlation between a shiplift system and increasing the capacity of the shipyard. Having a shiplift for a dry dock system generates exponentially more revenue as the yards can work on multiple yachts simultaneously. As Pepe Garcia-Aubert, president & CEO, MB92, explains: “The original shiplift and transfer system at MB92 has been pivotal to the success of superyacht support at MB92 since its installation more than 20 years ago.”
And when MB92 wished to grow its capacity in 2015, Pearlson was the company it turned to. “The expansion ensured that we maintained our position as the premier superyacht maintenance facility in Europe and a world leader in this highly specialized market,” Garcia- Aubert adds. The new shiplift system at MB92 allows the shipyard to lift and transfer yachts up to 120m in length and has directly impacted the shipyard’s ability to maximize production and cater to some of the world’s largest vessels. As Fraind explains, “A shipyard’s investment in expansion can quickly be recouped by the additional work they can carry out using our shiplift system”.
Pearlson’s successful history in the industry is due to its commitment to ongoing collaborations, ability to customize the technology and install bespoke equipment for the shipyard. “MB92 actively participated in the design and conception of the shiplift, providing many conceptual and technical solutions. This collaboration led to successfully achieving the requirements for this facility and extends to an ongoing and long-term working relationship [with Pearlson] that provides effective lifelong support for both shiplifts, ensuring maximum availability and reliability,” says Garcia-Aubert.
It’s not often that a company can boast of a five-decade-long professional relationship, but longevity is key to Pearlson’s approach to business. “Our shiplift was commissioned in 1975 and it has accomplished close to 2,500 launching and hauling operations during most of the second half of Abeking & Rasmussen 100-plus years of history, including the launchings of such famed yachts as Silver Shalis, Extrabeat, Hetairos and Excellence,” says Alexander Skalicky, director of production at the shipyard. Originally capable of hauling ships up to 60m, the shiplift at Abeking & Rasmussen has been upgraded twice to meet the demands of the growing industry; it was extended to 65m in 2007 and to 76m+ in 2013. “Reliability is what you must prove to your business partners to make long relationships possible and reliability is what you will earn from such relationships,” Skalicky concludes.
One of Pearlson’s most recent success stories is with Savannah Yacht Center, when it greatly expanded its facilities for refit, repair and maintenance. “The shiplift was completed in June 2019 and is capable of handling up to 80m superyachts,” explains Jim Berulis, vice president, Savannah Yacht Centre. “Less than one month after completion, we seamlessly hauled out a (now) repeat customer, 72m Quantum of Solace. As of January 2022, well over 100 superyachts at Savannah Yacht Center have had the privilege of experiencing the efficiency and reliability the shiplift provides.”
With projects already booked for beyond 2025 and involvement in new shipyards in the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the U.S., the industry should anticipate Pearlson’s continuing success for generations to come.
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