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A Conversation with the Owner of the Dominator Yacht Brand

Wolfgang Pernsteiner talks about what he’s learned and what it’s like working with his children…

The Austrian businessman Wolfgang Pernsteiner was familiar with the Italy-based Dominator brand before he acquired it in 2010: He owned a Dominator yacht, and he had some ideas about improving the company’s offerings. Under Pernsteiner’s direction, and with input from his daughter and son, Dominator now offers the Ilumen (see “Front Runners July 2016: Let There Be Light“) and other “tailor-made” yachts—vessels ranging from 64 to 131 feet for which owners can choose all of the fittings and furnishings.  

You’ve owned yachts, but you bought this company with no experience in the yachting industry. What have you learned? 

We’ve learned not to listen to people who said we shouldn’t waste so much time developing the Ilumen. Dominator has never 3-D-modeled a boat with such obsessive detail. When we look back with our engineers, we all admit we were crazy. But we know the result was worth it. 

Your daughter and son work with you. What is that like?

We’ve been working together for more than 6 years. Angela manages and owns Dominator Design & Development, which unifies design, R & D, and brand activities. Christoph is responsible for the integration of all IT processes across our different companies. As in every family business, everyone has to be flexible and do several different jobs at the same time.  

What are the advantages of working together?

As an entrepreneur, working with my children was the highest goal I could ever achieve. Angela works with much blood, sweat, and tears. That keeps me young and motivated, even when the challenges seem too big. Christoph’s coolness and rationality are also crucial in many situations. I don’t suffer from a shortage of new ideas, so my children need patience around me. The most difficult thing is to not discuss business matters 24/7, especially on holidays. 

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