Now that the 2008 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show is over, one thing is for certain. Those who were fortunate enough to attend and see our sales Showcase will not soon forget it.
“While some people are calling it the “boat show barge,” since it’s the platform the yard is using to welcome visitors to its display, Dick Lazzara, who with his brother Brad run the Florida-based yard, calls it a sales showcase. I call it a great idea.”
“But the real belle of this year’s ball is the barge behind the 92, a 40ft x 90ft glass-and-steel structure that Lazzara built at its facility in Tampa, Florida, and towed down to Ft Lauderdale to serve as a permanent floating showroom.”
I can tell you that “the barge” as its’ referred to as was a labor of love that traces its roots back to nearly 15 years ago. It’s just one more of those projects around here that when its first talked about you don’t believe can really be done and then when its all done you don’t believe you did it. That’s the great thing about this company. There are very few restrictions on imagination and even fewer on expectations. So how did this dream become a reality? This four part series will look back at how it all started, the people involved and the many countless hours that went into the Bell of the Ball.
It’s October 2008 and Dick and I are meeting with Andrew Doole of Show Management at the Ft.Lauderdale Boat Show. Andrew is Chief Operating Officer for Show Management, the company respnosbile for oraganzing the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. We’re talking about the future of the boat shows and how we need to raise the level of the presentation of the displays, take the show presentation to the next level. Andrew was very much excited about the possibility to do something new the following year. That was all Dick needed to hear to know that finally the time was right to build something that had been in his head for over a decade. I remember him telling Andrew how he envisioned this two story structure completely self powered, with balconies, its own AC system, something that could be towed into the show and would be self sufficient. We were talking about where we would be able to find a barge to build such a structure and different details that would have to be worked out. The more we talked the more we realized were not talking about building just a barge, were talking about something much greater.
That was the day we set the barge in motion, but the genises goes back fifteen years. In 1993 we used a steel barge to build our boat show display on and towed it into the show. The thought was it would be cheaper and easier to errect the display and tow it in then to try and build everything on site at the boat show. It worked and it sparked the idea to have a display that you could tow into the boat shows and then store it somewhere when not in use. However in 2000 after we purchased an old floating house and turned it into our sales office in Ft. Lauderdale we realized you could actually use a floating “display” year round. Dick had also always wanted to put one of our boats into a showroom. With our smallest boat being 68′ that would be quite a challenge. But with a floating showroom you could bring the showroom to the boat. So he started envisioning a large glass structure that could be used as our showroom and then towed to the boat shows.
It’s July 2008 and Dick gathers a handful of us to show a scale model he’s built of the new sales barge. He went through the whole presentation and at the end said “I want to debut the barge at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. We need a name for it”. I was thinking we needed more than that. More like we need to have our heads checked if we think we’re going to do this in time for Ft. Lauderdale 2008. First off, I was skeptical of the initial design. In addition our Product Dev Team was deep into the development of the LSX92, working 60 hour weeks.
(Original Concept Model of Barge)
With only 120 days until the show and a massive new project going on in the LSX92 I specifically remember my brother Joe and I trying to talk Dick out of debuting it then. We wanted to push it off until Miami 09′. Dick didnt want to hear it.
I figured I’d find an outside company to design it which would allow our internal staff to focus on the LSX92. I had some very ruff sketches (they weren’t anything we were looking for) done by someone and put them in front of my brother. Im pretty sure it pissed my brother off because 48 hours later he along with Jim Melton from our Product Development team had taken Dicks orginal design and transformed it into something remarkable. The first time I saw it I knew that was what we should build. Honestly I didnt think we could get it done in time, but one thing I did know, that it was exactly the look we needed. Within a couple weeks we had a scale model of the final design and the build process was just around the corner. All we needed was a barge. But where would we find a 40′ x 90′ barge in a matter of months? (…to be continued)