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For the record

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DEALERS
A group of 37 dealers in 15 states have banded together to become Boater’s Edge dealers, though each will remain independently owned and operated.

Formed under the auspices of the Chapin, S.C.-based Boat Dealers’ Alliance, each location will remain independent, while providing retail buyers with new services to enhance the boating experience. BDA is a marketing group that ties these dealerships together, according to BDA executive director Bob vanVollenhoven.

Boater’s Edge, which officially launched June 1, has been in the works for more than two years.

“There are opportunities in any economy. There’s still business to be had. This group has been together so long, this has been in the works for quite a while and we had our time frame to launch June 1 for the model year,” vanVollenhoven told Soundings Trade Only.

Boater’s Edge dealers are located in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

The dealers represent nearly 70 brands of boats.

“There are different boating needs in different parts of the country,” said Mike Hebert, owner of Texas Marine and president of the Boater’s Edge group, in a statement. “We feel one of the challenges that the bigger conglomerates have come up against is a more limited product offering. Because our members are not tied to one manufacturer, we believe this will be an advantage for the group.”

Priority service, bow-to-stern extended service contracts, certified pre-owned extended warranty, competitive retail financing and learn-how-to-boat seminars are highlights of the Boater’s Edge concept.

The group’s Web site, www.boaters edge.com will help consumers locate Boater’s Edge dealers, offer a comprehensive used-boat listing site and feature a social network for boaters to share destinations and boating tips. The site is expected to be updated in phases.
For information, visit the Web site or call (803) 932-2463.

MANUFACTURERS
Nautic Global Group has closed its Benton, Ill., plant and shifted manufacturing of its Hurricane Deck Boats to its Elkhart, Ind., manufacturing campus. The move means the loss of 75 full-time jobs at the Benton plant.

NGG’s Polar Fishing Boats also will be built in another NGG plant, either in Syracuse, Ind., or Elkhart. The move of Polar to Syracuse could create 30-40 new jobs in that plant, said Steve Tadd, director of marketing for NGG.

NGG has no plans to sell the Benton plant, and hopes to reopen it when economic conditions improve. The closure leaves NGG with 10 plants.

“The market’s rough, but we’re hopeful that once things turn around that there will be demand enough to warrant bringing Polar and our offshore fishing boats back down there and once that would happen, then we would bring production back into that facility,” Tadd told Soundings Trade Only. “We’re not selling it, but it would be demand that would trigger re-opening it.”

Tadd said it was a combination of the economy and improved efficiencies in manufacturing that led to the consolidation.

“We have invested heavily in Lean manufacturing and our production and throughput and efficiencies in Elkhart have improved tremendously, which has allowed us to take some of that spillover with Hurricane and bring it back up here,” Tadd said. “That said, none of this would probably have been able to happen if the economy was booming.”

In November 2005, Godfrey Marine and Rinker Boat Company merged to form NGG, the fourth-largest recreational boat manufacturer in the U.S. The combined company manufactures nine brands, including Rinker Cruisers and Sport Boats, Hurricane Deck Boats, Sanpan, Aqua Patio, Sweetwater and Parti Kraft Pontoon Boats, as well as Polar and Polar Kraft Fishing Boats.

EXPANSIONS
Following last year’s purchase of TowBoatU.S. locations on Lake George, Fla. and Lake Monroe, Fla., Capt. Matt Moss added three more towing ports to his portfolio.

The recent additions include TowBoatU.S. Palatka, Fla., located at Crystal Cove Marina, and TowBoatU.S. Crescent Lake, located at Leonards Landing in Crescent City, Fla. Both were purchased from former owners Jim and Beci McCall.

Moss also added a second port on Lake Monroe at the Boat Tree Marina.

Moss, who has lived on the St. John’s River for more than three decades, has equipped TowBoatU.S. Palatka with a 25-foot Proline and TowBoatU.S. Crescent Lake with a 21-foot Hydrasport response boat. TowBoatU.S. Lake George, located at the Blackwater Inn, has five response boats in the 21- to 38-foot range, while TowBoatU.S. Lake Monroe at Monroe Harbor Marina has a 21-foot Wellcraft.

Skippers not familiar with the local waters can be challenged when boating on the St. John’s because shallows are often found just outside narrow channels, leading to groundings.

Dropping off fuel and mechanical breakdowns make up many of the remaining calls for assistance, Moss said.

Despite a challenging year in which it saw a reduction in its workforce, Century Boat Co. has entered the final stages of a 20,000-square-foot capital expansion project that will position the manufacturer for increased capacity and efficiency in the future.

The factory’s production lines now will have a separate mold rotation area, as well as a state-of-the-art air make-up system in its grinding area. This new addition will allow Panama City, Fla.-based Century to spread out its production lines and add additional production lines and capacity in the future.

“The expansion will allow us to look at larger boats in the future, as well as putting us in a better position to compete when the economy gets on a more even keel; which it will,” said Dean Burnett, vice president/general manager, in a statement.

Burnett said the last year has been challenging for the company and many saltwater boatmakers, and because of that Century has reduced its workforce by about 40 people.

Burnett said both Century and its parent company, Yamaha Motor Corp., have several new products available for 2009, which should help to renew and strengthen interest in boating and fishing.

Twin Rivers Marina, in Crystal River, Fla., has added 84 dry storage racks that can accommodate vessels up to 38 feet in length.

Twin Rivers now has a total of 224 dry racks and 53 wet slips that can accommodate boats as large as 58 feet.

Serving boaters for 35 years, Twin Rivers is located at the junction of Crystal River and Salt River, providing easy access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Twin Rivers Marina is part of Aqua Marine Partners’ family of marinas nationwide. Aventura, Fla.-based AMP owns, develops and manages marinas in the United States on behalf of itself and its equity partners.
Capt. K. “Donald” Duck opened his fifth on-the-water towing port, TowBoatU.S. Hopewell, Va.

The Coast Guard-licensed skipper also owns TowBoatU.S. locations in Portsmouth, Norfolk and Poquoson, Va., as well as TowBoatU.S. Coinjock, N.C.

TowBoatU.S. Hopewell is equipped with a 24-foot response boat, Any Time, which is stationed at Jordan Point Marina at the Benjamin Harris Bridge on the James River.

The son of a submariner, Duck (he got his unique name as a form of endearment from his high school coach, and he’s kept it ever since) began in the marine industry in the 1980s working for his father-in-law’s marine business that repaired, sold and salvaged boats. In the 1990s, the pair became affiliated with TowBoatU.S., and when Duck’s father-in-law passed away in 2003, Donald took over the business.

ACQUISITIONS
MarineTech Products has acquired all assets of E.Z. Steer, a manufacturer of auxiliary outboard steeling systems for the marine aftermarket. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’ve been real friendly competitors for many, many, many years and our products really complement each other,” Larry Grundtner, president of MarineTech, told Soundings Trade Only. “It made a lot of sense.”

E.Z. Steer’s owner, he said, decided to retire after more than 25 years and contacted Grundtner about the company.

MarineTech manufactures Panther, Navigator and Detwiler marine accessories that it sells through the aftermarket through one-step retailers and two-step distributors, Grundtner said. E.Z. Steer products are sold through two-step distributors, as well as through major retailers.

E.Z. Steer will be a trademark under the MarineTech umbrella, Grundtner said.

Manufacturing of E.Z. Steer’s products will remain in Marysville, Wash., while all sales and marketing functions will move to MarineTech’s headquarters in White Bear Lake, Minn.

DISTRIBUTORS
Colligo Marine of Mesa, Ariz., has selected Nance and Underwood to distribute the company’s Synthetic Systems standing rigging hardware.

Nance and Underwood is a sailboat rigging company based in Fort Lauderdale. The company has 20 years experience in the design and construction of standing and running rigging.

Colligo’s Synthetic Systems is an easy-to-install, lightweight system that makes it practical to use synthetic line in place of stainless wire for standing rigging on sailboats, according to the company.

The system components — line terminators, chainplate distributors and titanium brackets — are a quarter the weight of the stainless. They’re also corrosion-resistant and easy to splice with 12 strand line. No turnbuckles are needed.

This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue.

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