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Untitled Document

It all began when Bruno Gambacorti, who is still Gineico's managing director, registered the company in September, 1976, during an exploratory trip to Australia. The name is an acronym for Gambacorti Italia Nautical Export Import Company.

Bruno already knew a thing or two about boats. He returned here in 1977 to represent Italy in the World Half Ton Sailing Championships, hosted by Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and to find a home for his family.

Having noted potential for growth in the Australian marine industry during his first visit, his initial idea was to set up an exclusive distribution network for the Drofin marine inboard diesel engine. This little 12.5 HP two cylinder diesel inboard motor was revolutionary for its time. It was built using an alloy-based material, making it one of the first purpose-built marine engines. It was raw water cooled, and boasted a market-leading weight to power ratio which would not be matched for many years. The motor was imported by Gineico and exclusively distributed by Leyland Australia, which subsequently became JRA Australia, through their dealerships around the country.

A year later this product was joined by Australia's first air-filled fenders, now a market standard, and subsequently by feathering and geared folding propellers, which were another market first. Then followed alloy deck hatches, and Barbarossa deck hardware, which was later purchased by Harken USA.

Until the late 80s, Gineico was based in Sydney's northern beaches, working literally from a garage in Frenchs Forest. Later Gambacorti moved to a larger house in Beacon Hill, where the business had a whole ground floor. It had gone from a one-man operation to two, with the addition of Bruno's eldest son Andrea.

While growth was not dramatic, the nature of the business was on the other hand evolving dramatically. Andrea's design background meant that he began looking at interior finishes for boats, so Gineico soon got involved with door hardware, lighting, and upholstery fabrics, which represent the backbone of its marine range to this day.

By the mid 90s the business began to grow rapidly. Joining the team in 1993 was younger son Pierlugi. He was given the task of running the marine division, while Andrea concentrated on developing other areas. This division of tasks, and resulting increase in sales force, meant they could re-market several brands, and in so doing, in some cases obtained the same sales results in just five months that had taken five years before.

The products Gineico were importing became the favoured option for several boatyards, as customers began to request a higher level of interior finish and choices. The little office in Beacon Hill was soon replaced by a new one in Boundary Street, Rushcutters Bay, and with it came their first non-family employees.

In hindsight, says Bruno, this change in fortune was principally due to the combined presence on the Australian market of imported vessels, as well as an increased emphasis placed by local manufacturers, like Riviera, on exporting Australian-made boats.

The combination of these two factors caused local manufacturers to increase the quality and level of interior finishes and options that were being offered to their customers. The end result was increased demand for more expensive top quality fittings, finishes and accessories, which are now standard issue on most boats.

In the late 90s the business took another step forward with a move from Rushcutters Bay to current premises in Devonshire Street, Surry Hills. Initially the Gambacortis sub-divided the space, and had tenants, but soon they began to outgrow Gineico's portion, and they now have the full 300 sq m as an accessories showroom and office space.

At this time they also changed their emphasis from selling smaller basic fittings to supplying larger yards with high end products. The product range was boosted by the addition of more top-end Italian manufacturers, so that any gaps in the line-up were soon filled.

This coincided with the addition of more trained sales staff, and with a change away from sailing boats – Bruno's and thereby the whole family's passion – towards sailing cats and power boats. The latter step proved to be very wise.

Soon the combination of growth in the Australian marine industry and increased popularity of the products generated even faster sales. Gineico also launched its residential interiors division, which now accounts for nearly half the business.

They began exhibiting at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. Not knowing what to expect, they only took a few lighting panels to the Gold Coast, and booked a little 3 x 3 metre stand, which was manned by one person. It was soon swamped by customers, who were literally queuing to look at the fittings.

The outstanding success of that first show made Gineico realise the unbelievable potential of the Queensland marine market. On the back of this success, and on the advice of several good customers and friends, they opened a Queensland office in 2002 at Gold Coast City Marina in Coomera. Initially employing one staff member, who is with them to this day, they now own the building where the office is located, the original staffer now manages two other full time people, as well as contractors who assist them with the supply and installation of fittings.

In 2002 and 2003 Gineico then moved to open a sales office in Perth, as well as Gineico New Zealand. While Perth has always been a successful joint venture, the office in New Zealand which it fully owns, has proved more challenging, albeit successful too, as reported above.

Since then, their core emphasis has switched away from structural growth, to both offering more high quality products for every vessel, and providing customers with trained staff and contractors to complete installations. This has meant the introduction of new products, which have fortunately proven to be exceptionally popular, as well as addition to the team of specialised trained contractors who can assist to not only better sell their product, but also install and commission hardware and if necessary, train customers on how to use the products.

Looking back the story seems simple and growth logical. In reality, the move from Italy to Australia was very challenging at best, and sheer madness at worst for the family, says Bruno, given that none of them spoke a word of English and he was 46 years old.

Growth was very unstructured and certainly not well planned. As with most of these stories, everything was underpinned by hard work and a commitment to providing the very best possible products and service right from the very beginning, with the revolutionary little Drofin inboard right through to the recently introduced Acoustica sound equipment that won a commendation for innovative product of the year at the annual AMIF awards held in May. And nothing would have been possible without the growth and support of the local industry and manufacturers.

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