For Hollywood, there is the parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”: just about every actor or actress is within six connections, normally fewer, of Bacon himself. Emma Watson, for instance, has a Bacon Number of two: she has acted alongside John Cleese, who has in turn acted alongside Bacon. If you were to transpose that game to the world of Yachting, you might choose to search out “Frangi Numbers”. The only difficulty would be that James “Jimmy” Frangi is connected to everybody. I mentioned Frangi to an underwriter at Lloyds, asking their opinion of him. In response I got pursed lips and the comment, “Frangi? He’s a big fish.”
Big fish, of course, don’t begin their lives big, and Frangi’s ascent to the height of recreational and commercial yachting has been well earned through hard work. He had a modest start in the business: hustling insurance salvage from Brownsville, Texas to Key West. He lived in his Green F-350 most of the Fall of 2005, traveling the Gulf Coast buying and selling small boats broken by large storms. But “project boats” quickly translated into bigger and bigger reconditioning projects. In 2009 four short years after he abandoned the green Ford dually… Jimmy Frangi was commissioned to manage the €13m refit of the 83-meter superyacht O’Mega. Now, ten years later, Frangi owns O’Mega, along with a fleet of a half dozen other 60+ meter charter yachts.
A Monaco Yacht Broker says of Jimmy Frangi; “he talks fast, and thinks even faster. He’s juggling 14 deals at any one moment, and manages all details in his head… he’s brilliant, but his energy will exhaust a normal human in 90 minutes.”
We ran into Frangi in New York, and tried to tame this tornado for a few quick questions. It is believed that there are two types of people; those that listen, and those that wait to speak. Frangi offends both natures… he doesn’t listen, and doesn’t wait. But somehow, he extracts an exquisite distillation to the nucleus of the matter at hand.
Q: You attended the amfAR gala last month with a supermodel and the First Daughter of the U.S.A., is that a typical weekend?
JF: It’s the rare occasion we have the opportunity to relax and enjoy old friends.
Q: You donated a $600K Yacht Vacation to the amfAR auction. Is that how you relax?
JF: amfAR funds remarkable research and programs, I am humbled to play a very small part.
Q: From a business perspective, what makes the yacht business unique?
JF: No transparency. We have become a victim of our own vanity. This (yachting) is the only asset market with price opacity. You are taught that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and can’t measure what you can’t count. Final sale settlements remain a guarded secret, and always a clear departure from the published “asking” price. You can’t measure market or asset value on bullshit asking price data. Nevertheless, this industry thrives.
Q: How is that possible?
JF: It’s a secret. There are reasonable justifications to keep the sale data private. You adapt your management to existing or static control conditions and prosper… or don’t acclimate and fail.
Q: How would you change yachting?
JF: Change or advance?
Q: Change, make it different.
JF: I would like to see more efficient and cleaner propulsion, more LNG implementation, maybe hydrogen. I think an end of life program should be developed to cycle out older vessels that have surpassed their terminal value.
Q: Real Estate…
JF: Yes, we are invested in globally
Q: An impressive portfolio of luxury properties, how is dealing Real Estate different than dealing Yachts?
JF: Back to transparency, Real Estate is no mystery; the Buyer, Seller, Value, Sale Price, Tax, and most operating cost are all public record.
Q: Not so in Yachting?
JF: NO… may be one reason that Yachts are so captivating. The challenge is addictive, almost like a competitive sport.
JF: Blockchain has interesting application promise. As a currency… limited.
Q: You recently bought a shipyard in Italy…
JF: Civitavecchia, and a 127m soon to be a 147m in-build
Q: What are your plans there?
JF: Build large Yachts?
Q: How is that going?
JF: The current in-build and the shipyard have a long and difficult history. Before we arrived; there had been trauma and pain inflicted on the local community. Our first job is to heal and rehab the relationship between the shipyard and the community. There is a lot of scar tissue that we are working through right now. I have high hopes, all positive, for the Shipyard and Civitavecchia… I am very happy to be there.
Q: Why there? Why Italy? Why not Germany, Turkey or your base in Greece?
JF: Italy offers a unique high quality of craftsman… a superior workforce. “Made in Italy” has high brand value.
Q: But the shipyard failed in the past, and there seems to be difficulty
JF: Failure does not strike like a bolt from the blue. It develops gradually from its own logic. As we attempt to solve problems; we enjoy an exploit hindsight. We see the complicated situations that elicited habits of thought that set failure in motion. With this clear vision we can navigate to avoid pitfalls of the past.
Q: So, from a yacht builder’s perspective how will you approach the market today?
JF: There are three areas that we are focusing; One: Hull material, and what is the best application for a given task. Today we see we see hulls of steel, aluminum, carbon, GRP and composite materials. And these materials all behave differently. Two: Fluid Dynamics – Hull Performance. Advances in technology are having a dramatic impact on computational fluid dynamics, boosting our understanding of water flow around hulls and underwater appendages, leading to significant improvements in performance and efficiency. Three: Quite – Noise & Vibration.
Q: Sounds like expensive science.
JF: I see it as the design and exploitation of quality. Design is integral to preparation, and victory loves preparation. The better quality in design and preparation, the more economy is achieved in operation and ownership.
Q: The demand for a quiet yacht, is driven by owners that are building bigger, heavier, more luxurious and more complex.
JF: I would say more complicated, not more complex. Complex systems are diverse, interdependent, connected, and adapting entities, which typically are unpredictable, robust, novel, and produce large events. Yet, are able to withstand unusual trauma and environmental variation and still hold together. This opposed to complicated which is neither interdependent or adaptive. A watch is complicated, yet it takes but only one element to falter for the entire system to fail. A yacht then is also complicated. It takes but only one element to falter, and she’s bound to the quay or in line to be hauled.
Q: What is your solution?
JF: Less moving parts. Better design and craftsmanship.
Q: What is the solution to quiet?
JF: At first glance, this issue looks simple and straightforward: the less energy transmitted into a yacht’s structure, the less noise and vibration will radiate into interior spaces. Air-borne noise is typically remedied with high-tech insulation materials. Energy travels long distances through the structure of a yacht. So, it is important to design the structure stiff enough to avoid any vibrations. Propulsion systems require the softest mounting systems and the stiffest foundation. Noise makers; engines, drive train, generators, gear boxes, props, and thrusters, each should be set and tuned properly. Air-conditioning system’s compressor, cooling lines and pumps set on vibration isolation mounts. Cavitation can create noise that will travel throughout the hull. Here we employ six or seven-bladed propellers that are balanced dynamically, not statically. On a plaining hull, propeller-hull clearance should equal 25% of the propeller’s diameter to be effective, whereas on a full displacement hull 35% to 50% will give good results.
Q: What about hybrid propulsion systems?
JF: I like the idea. We are investigating and testing systems now. But you must attend first to the basics.
Q: So, what’s next… space exploration, biomedical research, climate mitigation?
JF: Yes, climate… to some extent.
Q: Really, I was being rhetorical…
JF: We are working on a Blue Carbon, mangrove initiative that cleans the air, sequesters CO² and helps mitigate coastal erosion.
Q: Mangrove trees?
JF: We have targeted and available about 5000 acres of evaporating marsh in Louisiana. We will start there adding about 600 trees per acre.
Q: How do you plan to monetize 3mil mangrove trees?
JF: That’s what makes this enterprise original and unique. These mangrove stands will produce tens of millions of carbon negatives. We will transfer these CO² negatives into offsets and credits and democratize their distribution to a retail public. And do so while preserving and rebuilding the deteriorating American coastline.
Q: What do you mean democratize?
JF: No single constituency owns climate mitigation, it’s not just sandal-wearing, tree-huggers that are concerned about our environment. Climate is no longer an intellectual issue… it is a human issue. You do not need to ‘believe’ that the ice caps are melting to understand and embrace the idea of enhancing/enriching global oxygen levels. Everybody wants clean air, regardless of their position on climate-change. Nevertheless, the green-deal activists continue to alienate the larger mainstream populist. We are creating a new market and value network through a popular majority that wants but does not yet engage Carbon Offsets. We are segmenting this undeveloped market to mirror the way these new customers experience life. We are targeting the circumstances in which customers find themselves, rather than at the customers themselves We will promote and distribute Climate Mitigation to the mainstream, and it all starts with the mangrove.
Q: So, you plan to sell carbon-credits to the Blue-Collar middle of America?
JF: We plan to reach all parts of society.
JF: Much of the art of marketing focuses on segmentation: identifying groups of customers that are similar enough that the same product or service will appeal to all of them. We learned this well in our Yacht businesses. But consumer or retail Marketers often segment markets by product type, by price point, or by the demographics and psychographics of the individuals or companies who are their customers.
Q: Ok, and what…
JF: But here we are selling ‘engagement’, participation in cleaning our environment. When you engage, you are a positive force in change.
Q: So how does Bubba and his Bros “engage” when they gather-up on Sunday to watch football with beer and pizza, on the big screen?
JF: OK… where did they get the pizza?
Q: Uber Eats
JF: Postmates, Door Dash, Grub Hub, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Uber Eats.. we will partner with these home delivery companies. Carbon Neutral delivery will be appearing on the menu.
Q: Everyday task…
JF: Instead of uberBLACK, uberSUV, uberX, etc. order up “UberGreen; a ride without a carbon footprint. We wholesale carbon credits to Uber to pass on to their riders.
Q: What else?
JF: I can give you 5 quick examples… Amazon is the world’s top online retailer, produces a carbon trail on every item you buy. We have two proposals to improve customer experience. (1) Amazon vendors can offer carbon-free shipping, by simply pre-paying their footprint. (2) Customers can Opt-in-Green at checkout and pay a calculated carbon cost based on shipping or round up each sale to the nearest dollar. The difference goes into a pool to retire Carbon Credits.
– Fed-Ex – UPS – OTR & LTL Freight Cos.
We will work with all parcel and freight shippers to “Ship-Clean/Ship-Green” through constitutional sponsorship, Ship-Green price option, or Opt-In round-up.
– Hertz – Avis – Enterprise – U-Haul – Ryder
Leading vehicle rental networks can initiate corporate and/or customer deployments to “Ride-Clean”. Corporate constitutional implementation and customer participation options.
– New Car Dealers
Auto Dealer Green Sponsor Program whereby the dealer offers a Clean-Footprint option to new car buyers. Buyers are incented to trade with a climate-minded Dealer.
– NASCAR – Formula 1
Racing Teams are high-burn, sponsor driven organizations. We’ll do reverse sponsorships with Racing Teams. The Race Team will acquire carbon offsets for the rights to claim a neutral emission race car.
– Opt-In at the Gas Pump
We are developing a green-option presentation for several fuel marketers. Drivers would have the opportunity to neutralize their carbon foot print directly from the fuel pump. If implemented, this could ignite a significant shift in climate and environment attitudes.
Q: That’s actually six, and fairly comprehensive….
JF: Just a beginning… got to take this call…
And, he was gone.
What reads here as a linear conversation, was anything but. Frangi talks fast and his mind seems to be racing even faster. It was hard to distinguish, if what he was delivering are refined plans, or were actually brilliant ideas being born here on the spot.
What is clear, is that Jimmy Frangi, is engaging and charismatic. A former employee stated; “Jimmy, gathers opinions from many people on any one subject. He has a way of making each individual feel that their opinion and contribution is of top value.” His personality and intellect have brought him far. But the “Big Fish” cannot be restrained in the waters he currently swims… he thrives for a bigger pond. His ambitions are driving him from the vanity business to the humanity business. Can he resolve the climate argument? Somewhere in our conversation he says… “I am only one, but still I am one… I cannot do everything, but I can do something… and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can.” If Jimmy Frangi can draw back to quote Edward Hale, he just may be able to draw forward and effect positive change. Maybe in Jimmy, there is hope for all of us.