Being lucky is being prepared
We speak with Frank Grzeszczak about his new enterprise and outlook on the brokerage market…
“I have been in this business for a long time. When Trinity sold IYC to our group, which included myself, my son and the contingent from Greece, at that point I was already on the fence about doing my own thing. Since that time, IYC has grown leaps and bounds, the management team has done a fantastic job growing the company and I still remain a partner temporarily,” starts Grzeszczak. “However, when I saw the quality of Admiral’s 65m project Life Saga and they invited me to become their exclusive rep for the Americas, I really felt that the yard had turned a corner and I was excited about the possibilities it represented. I just felt that it was the right time to grow my own company and get Admiral the recognition they deserve.”
While Grzeszczak credits the quality of Admiral’s Life Saga for inspiring him to start his own business and embark on a new challenge, Frank Grzeszczak International Yacht Group (FGI) is an brokerage house in the traditional sense and Grzeszczak is open to working with quality yards and clients across brokerage, new construction and charter, having recently purchased a charter business – with management services to be added in due course.
“The other reason that I start FGI is that I have a son, daughter and various other family members that all have an interest in this business. My goal here is to ultimately bring my whole family into the business and let it grow from there so that when my time comes, my son will be able to take it over and continue to grow,” continues Grzeszczak.
It may seem that, having formally announced the introduction of FGI as a business in 28 February, Grzeszczak had unfortunate timing given that the COVID-19 pandemic was only a matter of days around the corner. However, having spent the first 2.5 months of business focussing on preparing the organisation for business, he had not focussed on listing and, therefore, somewhat avoided the rapid decline in business opportunities. That being said, even Grzeszczak was not immune to the negative impact of coronavirus.
“When the coronavirus crisis started, I was hours away from putting together a deal on a $100 million boat. However, I got a call at 05:15 in the morning from the buyer’s captain explaining that the deal was off,” explains Grzeszczak. “It is unfortunate because this is a project that I had worked hard on. Do I think the deal will come back? I think so, because it was pretty much a done deal.
“Since focussing more on listings, of which we now have four, we received an offer within a week of having a 55m on our books and, after listing a Burger that I have sold twice before in recent years, we had a deal on in a week and survey booked. What I am seeing is that there is activity. People are out there planning what they will do when this is all over. Provided the stock market recovers and the economy begins to climb back, there will be plenty of buyers and, even if the economy doesn’t recover quickly, there will be plenty of activity because of the clients that need to sell their boats and get out.”
There has been much talk recently about the possibility of the brokerage industry becoming a buyers’ market once the major disruption caused by the pandemic is behind us. Grzeszczak believes there is credence to this speculation.
“I do think it will happen. In fact, it has already started,” he explains. “If they have the cash now, everyone is already out there looking for the deal of deals. Yes, it will happen and, as time goes on, I am increasingly confident of this. It’s just a matter of who has to sell and who doesn’t.
“In terms of advising clients, I will be telling them to be patient. As a broker you have to make sure you are familiar with what is going on with the market, talking to all the captains, other brokers, the industry and knowing the situation in all the shipyards around the world. Being lucky is being prepared for the opportunity. If you are prepared, then the good deals will happen.”
In terms of entering distressed new build projects or engaging with a new build project after the crisis, Grzeszczak warns clients that if the shipyard is not making money on a project then it is a bad deal. “They have to make money to stay in business. When the deals are too good to be true, bankruptcy follows soon thereafter, I’ve seen it happen too many times before.”
Grzeszczak remains optimistic that the superyacht market will recover and that, in the near future, there will be good deals to be had. In the meantime, he looks forward to growing his new business and building the foundations of a legacy project for his family.
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