Larson Boats CEO reflects on builders centennialPosted on
Larson Boats has been in the same business for 100 years and Al Kuebelbeck knows thats exceptional.
As the company celebrates its centennial, Kuebelbeck reflects on the challenges of recent years, from a bankruptcy restructuring to the Great Recession, and hes looking ahead to what he believes will be some of Larsons most exciting times.
The past three years have probably been the toughest three years that Ive participated in this business, said Kuebelbeck, the companys president and CEO, noting that some of Larsons boatbuilder competitors failed.
That affords us the opportunity to gain some market share because were still alive and still here. We landed in bankruptcy in 2009, and we worked our way through, and weve repositioned ourselves in the market. We didnt sit on our laurels. We worked hard on developing new product that we feel is apropos for the market were dealing with and the generation were dealing with.
Larson is the umbrella company for the Larson, Triumph and Seaswirl Striper brands. All of the operations were consolidated in Little Falls, Minn., after the 2009 restructuring.
The process has not been without difficulty. Genmar Holdings CEO Irwin Jacobs filed for bankruptcy protection for all 15 of Genmars companies in June 2009. The case was later converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation, and the assets were auctioned. Platinum Equity, a private equity investment firm, purchased the Larson, Triumph and Seaswirl brands from Genmar and sold them to Jacobs new company, J&D Acquisitions.
Most of the 43 years that Kuebelbeck has spent in the marine industry have been with Larson 38 of them with Jacobs and he defends Jacobs against those who criticize him. Working with him is very rewarding, Kuebelbeck says. I fully understand there are a lot of negatives out there, [but] most of the negatives out there there isnt much substance to it.
Jacobs got into the marine industry in the 1970s when he purchased Larson because he believed so strongly in the brand, Kuebelbeck says.
Frankly, without him having that strong feeling in Larson, I dont think Larson would be having its 100th anniversary this year, Kuebelbeck says. Were completely restructured, and coming out of the bankruptcy Irwin couldve walked away, but he had such dedication to the company he stuck with us. Were building the brands back up, and Im excited with what weve got coming down the line and anxious to see how its received.
Look for more about Larson in the October issue of Soundings Trade Only.