With the construction of an astonishing number of marinas worldwide, including 40,000 slips being built in Dubai alone, Island Global Yachting is sailing to the top of its industry thanks to the innovative vision of owner Andrew Farkas
By Stephanie Wilson
Photography by Naila Ruechel
His familiarity with the Caribbean region has long been a defining characteristic, and his love of the water is significant.
A born entrepreneur, Andrew Farkas says that his business sense came naturally, even in his youth. “My father reminded me that when I was eight years old, for a weekend art project, I drew a stock certificate on a piece of paper and sold it to my grandfather for ten cents,” Farkas recalls with a deep chuckle. “I had forgotten that story until just now!” While the tale may have slipped his mind, the entrepreneurship is still well instilled.
While most eight year olds wouldn’t even know what a stock certificate looked like, Farkas already knew undoubtedly he would head into the business world. At the age of 16, his first company, called Data Mini Systems, wrote and sold software in a time when the term P.C. did not yet exist; Farkas, a New York City native, has been unusually ahead of the learning curve throughout his life.
Upon completion of his studies at Harvard, Farkas headed diligently into the business world. Farkas created Insignia Financial Group in 1990 with $5 million raised from a group of investors. His tenacity allowed the business to grow into one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the world. The company went public in 1993, and by 1998, Insignia was among the top owners and operators of multifamily real estate in the US, controlling a whopping 350,000 residential units and over 200 million square feet of commercial space. Farkas decided to sell the company in three parts, with the final sale being completed in 2003.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Farkas immediately dove into his next project. “I am not someone who can sit still for a long period. The very day that we sold the last piece of Insignia, I started Island Capital Group,” he explains.
Today, Farkas, now 47, is CEO and founder of Island Global Yachting (IGY), the world’s premier owner, developer, and manager of luxury marinas and lifestyle destinations, based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. IGY, an affiliate of Island Capital Group, has one main goal: to bring marinas around the world up to five-star status.
IGY was born out of necessity. “I spent a tremendous amount of time in my younger years living in Jamaica,” Farkas explains. “We went boating all the time.” His familiarity with the Caribbean region has long been a defining characteristic, and his love of the water is significant. An avid lifelong boater (although currently he is between boats, because, as he says, “what one needs to have a boat is time, and time right now is the rarest of commodities for me.”), Farkas was ecstatic when he reached a level of success in life that he was able to charter boats. “1992 was the first time I chartered a large vessel to go sailing around the Caribbean. From that point forward, I was chartering boats whenever I could, and going into every nook and cranny.” Farkas purchased his first boat in 1995, a 106-foot Palmer Johnson sloop, which he eventually replaced with a 125-foot Palmer Johnson pilothouse schooner.