Following the death last month of Willy Persico, founder and CEO of South Africa's Southern Wind Shipyard, the company is now being run by a tight-knit team of SWS managers – who are also shareholders in the company – with the fundamental backing and support of three SWS owners.

“Thanks to his diligent mind, his passion, commitment and foresight, Persico charted the route for a smooth transition of the shipyard by preparing the already existing management team for new responsibilities and selecting partners and shareholders who could guarantee the successful continuation of the shipyard that he was so devoted to,” says the company in a statement.

Marco Alberti has been at SWS since 1994 and became general manager 15 years ago. His heartfelt words express his sadness for Persico’ s sudden death and his gratitude for having worked with such an inspirational CEO. “Coming to terms with Willy’s death is a challenge for us. But he was an excellent tactician who has left us an example of passion and tenacity and a well-charted course to follow.”

Andrea Micheli, who has worked with Persico since 2003 and became Pegaso sales manager in 2008, echoes Alberti’s words: “Southern Wind will continue to do what it does best and in the best possible way. We are honoured to take on Willy’s legacy and will continue to walk in his footsteps, moving with renewed commitment and energy towards our goals.”

Alberto Del Cinque and Giampaolo Spera will flank Alberti and Micheli. Del Cinque began working at Pegaso in 1994 then became general affair manager in Southern Wind in 2000, and Spera has added on to two decades of experience as an executive in the nautical sector becoming director of Southern Wind about two years ago.

The supporting group of shareholders is made of three owners – among them, Juan Ignacio Entrecanales, executive vice chairman of the Acciona Group and three times Southern Wind owner.

In an interview where he outlined his plans for the yard’s future, Persico said: “The shipyard, during its 25 years of activity, has invested significant resources in the selection and growth of management to create a strong, skilled and harmonious team which is now bearing fruit.

“Companies are made by people; at the shipyard in Cape Town as well as at the offices of Pegaso in Genoa, I have my ‘pillars’ and I can count on their experience and advice from design to building and from marketing to customer care. In the future my team of managers will become the leader of the company to continue my way to build boats, or, maybe, their way to build boats.”