MIAMI — Italian industrialist Beniamino Gavio, whose Argo Finanziaria has signed a letter of intent to buy Bertram Yachts, is still deciding how to revive the iconic sportfishing brand, which shut its plant on Merritt Island, Fla., last summer. Gavio, whose Gavio Group owns the Cantiera Cerri and Baglietto shipyards in Italy, said in an interview that he plans to buy the Bertram name and whatever molds it makes sense to keep.
“I love these kinds of boats,” says Gavio, who has owned a Bertram 54 and a Hatteras 65. And he has a deep respect for the Bertram brand.
His initial thoughts are to start by building a Bertram based on the popular 31-footer that descended from the wood-hulled Ray Hunt-designed deep-vee that won the Miami-Nassau Race in 1960. He might build both an open and a flybridge version of the 31, then maybe a 25 or 28, a 36 and a 46.6. “I want to go step by step,” he says. “I will be very, very open to ideas. You can trust that I will treat Bertram with great, great, great respect — the same as I’m doing with Baglietto.”
Gavio says the new Bertram will be simple and strong. “I’m not going to make an Italian yacht,” he says. “I’m going to make an American boat designed for the American market.”
Bertram had leased its plant on Merritt Island. Gavio says he’ll probably build the first couple of Bertrams in Italy and try to have them ready for the 2016 Miami International Boat Show. In the meantime, he’ll be looking for a U.S. plant where he can build them — probably in Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. Gavio hoped to meet with Bertram dealers during the Miami and Palm Beach International shows to discuss these ideas. He also says he will meet with an American design engineer about the updated 31.
The Gavio Group is one of Italy’s largest construction, transportation and energy companies. It is engaged in building roads and bridges, and building, owning and operating toll roads, owning a fleet of 1,500 trucks; managing port operations; and energy production. Gavio bought the failing Cantiera Cerri shipyard in September 2011 and the Baglietto shipyard, which he says was dead, in May 2012. He is reviving both yards and has invested 14 million euros in Baglietto alone.
Gavio says he is “moved by passion” and his passion is for boats and the sea. He also says he has a great respect for history and tradition, and for the Bertram brand. “I’m going to do my best [to try to revive it],” he says. “We’ll have to see.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue.