Executive Profile: Martin Fierstone, Founder & CEO of Global Satellite
Recently, the Maritime Executive got a chance to speak with Mr. Martin Fierstone, the founder and CEO of Global Satellite - a preferred satellite solutions provider. Check out the interview below to get a better idea of this maritime executive's humble beginnings, business ideals, experience, and more.
Martin Fierstone, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Global Satellite
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in North West London, in a small suburb, Stanmore, in Middlesex. I lived in Stanmore with my family until I was 17 and then I left home to go to the South of France. From a very young age, I had a passion for boats and the maritime industry.
I quickly learned French and started a humble beginning by servicing the boats in St.Tropez and the Cote d'Azur and then extending from the all around the French coasts and the Mediterranean.
What is your experience in the maritime industry?
I have over 35 years of experience working in the maritime industry, initially working as a distributor for Brookes & Gatehouse. I was their exclusive sales & service distributor in France for 15 years and from nothing became the world's largest, having signed up major boat-builders such as Amel and Beneteau, to name a few of the big contracts. I developed channel distribution network throughout the French coasts for both the yachting and the professional fishing industries.
During this period I took on the distribution of other manufacturers such as Trimble California and Thomas Walker UK (Walker SatNav) and launched satellite navigation to the French Market.
Amongst our clients we had the honor to work with Prince Reynier of Monaco, Peter Seller, Herbert Von KarajanŠand some f of the famous yacht racers such as Eric Tabarly, Pierre Fehlmans. We also had several government clients around the world.
Is there anyone you look up to or that has inspired you in your professional career?
I guess I was most influenced by my parents who always believed and encouraged me to live my dream and to do what I really wanted to do in my life. I wanted to prove to them that I was able to make it.
What does Global Satellite do?
We are a satellite solutions provider. We are preferred distributors for all mobile satellite technologies including VSAT, Iridium, Inmarsat and Thuraya. We provide the turn-key solution including the hardware, installations and services.
We also have an in-house engineering division and have developed our own products and services such as:
- GSATTrack, allows you to track any vehicle, vessel, person, and plane ¬ from anywhere in the world in one universal system.
- SATCOLLECT is a software system that is now widely adopted amongst satellite users to convert their long digit number to a unique local number that is easier to use and saves money on airtime.
- MCG101/MCG108 Intelligent Iridium phones that provide a new level of sophistication to the Iridium technology.
What sparked the idea for Global Satellite?
I was educated to be a Company Secretary and the prospect of sitting behind a desk for the rest of my life was not an option. I was passionate about boats having saved and bought my first boat at the age of 16 for $6,000. I decided that I wanted to make my career in the boating business and built my first boat for a client whilst still at college at the age of 18.
One day a friend of the family was reading the newspaper and saw an ad for a business for sale in the South of France and I ended up moving there at the age of 21 to cart my career with approx. $200.00 cash flow at the time.
Where did you begin? Did you spend a lot of time researching and developing?
I began with a small office in the South of France. I was there for about 25 years before I moved north to Paris. I stayed in Paris for 7 years and built up a great rapport with many international clients. Today this office is still doing well. About 10 years ago l left Paris and set up a business in St Bart and after 2 years decided to move to Fort Lauderdale which is where head office remains.
I enjoy selling and meeting with customers. I do read about the industry and make sure that I am always knowledgeable about the market place and what¹s the next technology so that my company is ahead of the game. I am passionate about the industry and that is my main motivation.
What has starting this business taught you?
Never take anything for granted. Even the deals you think are in the bag could be the ones that don¹t happen. Of course, the ones you don¹t expect are often the ones that go ahead.
What are your goals for the company?
With the new technology that we are developing my goal is to become the world leaders in Fleet and Vessel management, kind of like the FaceBook of the tracking business. I can see huge possibilities in all sectors to develop new methods to reduce wastage of fuel, time and resource by the use of such technology such as our GsatTrack. We are currently signing up some of the majors as clients for Gsattrack which is exciting as we only started development of the system less than 2 years ago.
I personally will be concentrating on the emerging markets in Africa out of Casablanca facility and will envisage spending the greater part of my time on that side of the Atlantic. This part of the world has a huge potential for our products and services and some of our best contracts come out of the Paris and Casablanca offices.
With over 30 years of experience in working in Africa and especially in Morocco, I have made a lot of friends and acquaintances there and my dream it to spend the last years of my life in Morocco.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are from world media, oil and gas industry, commercial and leisure maritime, governments from all over the world and large and small private companies.
How many offices do you have? Where are they? To what areas of the world do your services extend?
We have three offices in Fort Lauderdale, Paris and Casablanca. We provide a global service, as each office is strategically positioned to cover a certain part of the world. We also have partners and distributors in the Caribbean, South America and Europe.
What benefits do you offer to your customers? What sets your services/ products apart from your competitors?
With our three offices and our ability to offer a wide range of products from a number of different manufacturers, we are able to provide our customers support on a global basis. Unlike our competitors, we manufacture as well, a range of satellite solutions. With our technology capability in this arena, we are also able to customize any satellite communication requirement on land, at sea or in any remote location.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Customer satisfaction, and the many number of friends that I have made over the years.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sailing, traveling and fixing things. I guess this is the left-over from years of working hands-on.