ANNA MARIA -- A 44-year-old pleasure boat retailer on Anna Maria Island is expanding its operations.
Within the next few weeks, Galati Yacht Sales will move portions of its headquarters sales operations into a new, $3 million building at its Bimini Bay marina facility. The expansion is one the company has been planning for some time.
"One of the things that we as a company have always wanted to do is put in a new facility there," said Darren Plymale, the company's vice president.
A seller of both new and consignment boats, Galati got its start on Anna Maria in 1970. Since then, the family-owned company has added sales and boat service facilities in eight more locations in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Michigan and Playa Herradura, Costa Rica.
The Costa Rica location is the newest, having opened in October 2013. Operating as Galati International Yacht Sales, it is the company's only location outside of the United States. Galati opened the sales location largely to cater to existing clients who travel to the area to fish, Plymale said.
About a third of the company's 150 employees work out of the Anna Maria facility. The new building is adjacent to the company's headquarter offices at 900 S. Bay Blvd. It is expected to be ready for occupancy late this month or in early June.
Corporate offices will remain where they are. Galati's sales offices, a conference center and a restaurant will occupy the new, two-story building. An older building that once housed restrooms and a restaurant, Rotten Ralph's, was razed to make way for the new structure.
The new restaurant, which is expected to open around June 30, will be the third location of Bradenton-area sushi and Japanese cuisine chain Ocean Star. Chi Lu, who co-owns the restaurants with husband Mon Lu, said the location will be Ocean Star's largest at 3,800 square feet and 157 seats. She said the restaurant will feature a hibachi table, a sushi bar and full bar service.
Ocean Star operates two other locations, one in Holmes Beach and the other on Cortez Road in Bradenton. The Lus have been running Ocean Star for 12 years.
Also new on the Galati property is a larger, rebuilt parking lot, and underground diesel fuel tanks that feed dockside pumps for boats at the 60-plus slip marina. Previously, the company stored diesel fuel in an above-ground tank.
Plymale said the new building will open as the company enters a "stable environment" for its sales. The company has about 450 consignment boats for sale and about $300 million in total inventory. Low interest rates and recovering property values are spurring boating industry growth, Plymale said.
"All of those factors have contributed to people going out and looking to have fun on the water," he said.
Boats in the company's inventory sell for between $100,000 and $30 million. But it is the big boats that tend to distinguish the company, Plymale said.
Galati sells about 10 yachts a year that exceed 100 feet in length. The company is seeking to hit that mark again this year. It also has a goal of double-digit percentage sales growth.
Boat brands sold by Galati include Princess, Viking and Grand Banks.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.
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