Veteran charter broker Patti Trusel has joined Florida-based Pier One Yacht Sales to launch its charter division.
Brokerage owner Len Garofoli said the charter business started slowly about five years ago when a few clients began asking for it. They were happy and then told their friends, who turned to Garofoli for their charters, he said.
After educating himself about the charter side of the market, signing up for things like Charter Index, and rebuilding his website, Garofoli decided to hire someone to launch an official division of his company to focus exclusively on charters.
His search led him to Trusel, who said she tried to be straightforward with Garofoli, perhaps even turning him off with her detailed description of how to go about launching a charter division, something she has done a few times before in her career.
“What, do I have a sign on my back that says start-up charter chick?” Trusel joked. She has helped at least three other companies start and build charter divisions in her 30-year career, including Bradford Marine and B&B Yacht Charters. “I tried to be sarcastic and tough when we talked, when I was giving him direction, but everything I saw, I saw he was really dialed in. He was realistic, he was not going to redesign the charter industry. So I said yes.”
Patti Trusel and Len Garofoli have launched the charter division at Pier One Yacht Sales in Florida. PHOTO/SUZETTE COOK
Trusel and Garofoli walked the Newport Charter Yacht Show on Tuesday, touring yachts and meeting crew. The company may eventually have a few charter yachts in its fleet, but its focus first is to match their current base of clients with the best yacht for their holiday.
Garofoli and his partner, Tony Mondello, started Pier One in 2004. It now has six offices across Florida’s southwest coast and 40 brokers. Trusel is based in Ft. Lauderdale.
Though a little out of his element as a sales broker, Garofoli said he was excited to have Trusel take his company to another level.
“What excites me is that everyone I talk to – even after we brought her onboard – says what a fantastic choice we made,” Garofoli said.
“That makes me feel good,” Trusel said. “This has been my whole adult life, in the charter industry. And it matters. If I had spent 30 years doing this and someone didn’t think highly of me, that would be disappointing.”
For the past year, Trusel worked for the large yacht division of Bluewater Books & Charts, helping captains keep current on chart regulations. But she missed charter.
“My heart and soul is in charter,” she said. “You know how it is. It’s not just a job. It’s a lifestyle.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of Triton Today. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.