For the Record: Beneteau USA celebrates a milestone at S.C. plant

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Beneteau USA recently built hull No. 7,000 at its factory in Marion, S. C.

“This significant achievement is a testament to the craftsmanship and diligence of all the hundreds of team members at our plant,” says Wayne L. Burdick, president of Beneteau USA. “Through their talents and perseverance, Beneteau USA has been able to reach the No. 1 spot in the 30-foot-plus sailboat market and reach this enviable hallmark number of boats produced.”

Beneteau USA has a 250,000-square-foot facility in Marion, with more than 200 employees producing hundreds of 30- to 50-foot sailboats a year that are sold through a network of dealers in the Americas, Canada and Mexico.

Boatbuilders make further adjustments
In response to the challenging economic climate, several manufacturers recently announced changes.

• Despite the success of its newly redesigned Picnic Boat, The Hinckley Company announced layoffs of 25 workers at its Trenton, Maine, production facility due to the industry-wide slump in sales.
• Hatteras Yachts laid off 330 employees in two days as part of a restructuring prompted by the continuing slump in marine sales.
• A number of employees at the Stratos plant in Murfreesboro, Tenn., were laid off, though the exact number of people who have lost jobs was not immediately available, according to Genmar chairman Irwin Jacobs.
• Tracker Marine Group announced it is consolidating its aluminum-boat manufacturing operations in response to “continuing evidence of tight credit and soft consumer demand for new boats.”
• Pearson Composites LLC of Warren, R.I., announced it is laying off 50 employees in response to the economic downturn.
Several of the manufacturers stressed a hope that the job losses will be      temporary.
• Yamaha Motor Company plans to temporarily stop production for seven to 10 days in February and March at 11 facilities because of the soft market. It was not specified which facilities would be affected.
• Silverton Marine Corp. planned to begin laying off 202 employees from January through March 26, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor.

Marine Products Corp. reports sales dip in 4Q
Marine Products Corp., manufacturer of Chaparral and Robalo boats, reported a more than 60 percent decrease in net sales for the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2008.

Marine Products generated net sales of nearly $22.8 million for the quarter, a 61.4 percent decrease compared to nearly $59 million in net sales for the same quarter of 2007.

The decrease, according to the company, was because of a 63.3 percent decline in the number of boats sold, partially offset by a 6.7 percent increase in the average selling price per boat.

CEO Richard A. Hubbell said in a statement he expects the economic conditions to continue to affect the company into 2009.

Florida canvas company shuts down its factory
Recent cuts in production by manufacturers have hit everyone in the industry, from dealers down to accessories makers, including Boatswain’s Locker in Jacksonville, Fla., which makes canvas boat adornments.

The company was hard hit last summer when Brunswick said it planned to close 17 boat plants by the end of 2009 in an effort to save $300 million. Without the orders from Brunswick, Boatswain’s Locker pared its staff from 50 to a dozen just before Thanksgiving. Boatswain’s Locker also recently shut down the 10,000-square-foot manufacturing site it had expanded into 10 years earlier.

Expansion completed at Yamaha plant
Yamaha Motor Corporation USA recently completed its $6 million, 64,000-square-foot expansion and the deployment of sequenced manufacturing technologies at its boat manufacturing facility in Vonore, Tenn.

Highlighting the new facility is a state-of-the-art robotic gelcoat application booth, high-speed robotic CNC cutters, and a proprietary RF urethane injection system (for flotation foam) that uses technology derived from NASA. Also included is a long list of “green” technologies that improve the work environment and significantly reduce waste product, the company says.

Other highlights of the expansion include:

• Sequence manufacturing and consumption-based inventory, enabling the entire line to switch quickly and efficiently between models. This enables Yamaha to provide more diversity for its dealers.
• Several important initiatives focused on environmental sustainability. These include new utilities, low-impact lighting and a 90 percent reduction in hazardous waste leaving the facility as well as a 10-12 percent reduction in total waste.
• New CNC routers that can cut at three times the previous efficiency.
• Doubling the size of the assembly area and adding new tools for improved quality.

This project is the latest of several multimillion-dollar investments Yamaha has made at the Vonore plant since 1995 when Yamaha began development of its boat line. The Vonore operation builds a range of Yamaha 23-foot and 21-foot runabouts and tower boats.
20 win certification as marina managers

The Association of Marina Industries made 20 Certified Marina Manager designations Jan. 26 at the International Marina and Boatyard Conference in Fort Lauderdale.
Of the 20 new CMMs, 11 are from the United States, while three are from Australia, five are from the United Kingdom, and one is from Spain.

There are currently 232 active CMMs around the world. CMMs must have five years experience in the marina industry to qualify for the training, which includes several hours of assignments, case studies within small groups and student presentations, as well as interactive workshops and informal lecture formats within a screened peer group.

MRAA details year’s legislative agenda
The Marine Retailers Association of America recently outlined its legislative agenda for 2009.
Based on recommendations provided by the Advisory Council of Marine Associations, the MRAA board of directors approved six resolutions on legislative issues and other MRAA activities.

The six issues relate to ethanol gasoline additive standards; the Clean Boating Act; boating safety education; reauthorization of the Wallop-Breaux amendment; expansion of the Clean Vessel Act; and support for outreach programs from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The advisory council also asked the MRAA to continue to work with the industry on Grow Boating programs, and to research the feasibility of a national boating credit union. www.mraa.com

West Marine content with 4Q performance
West Marine recently announced a 6.1 percent drop in net sales for its 2008 fourth quarter, and a 7.1 percent sales decline for the full year. Net sales for the quarter ending Jan. 3 totaled $111.1 million, compared to $118.3 million in the year-ago quarter. This was primarily because of a $4.9 million decline in same-store sales. Same-store sales fell 5.1 percent in the 2008 quarter, compared to a drop of 9.9 percent in the 2007 quarter. Same-store sales for the 53 weeks ending Jan. 3 fell 6.8 percent. In the corresponding 53-week period a year earlier, same-store sales decreased 7.6 percent.

“Sales levels in the fourth quarter were in line with our expectations,” CEO Geoff Eisenberg said in a statement. “While the challenging economic conditions, which have affected boat usage and thus our customer traffic and sales, were very difficult, we are pleased with our overall sales performance in Q4 and for 2008 in total.”

Defender Industries reports sales jump
The economic downturn doesn’t seem to be affecting Defender Industries. The Waterford, Conn.-based marine equipment and accessories supplier reported an 11.3 percent sales increase for 2008.

The company says 11 months set all-time sales records. And 2008 was Defender’s fifth consecutive year of record sales and its seventh consecutive year of solid growth, according to executive director Al Knupp.

“It’s really about our people,” Knupp told Soundings Trade Only. “Our people take such great care of our customers. It’s really not magic. We’re still doing business the same way we always have.”

With sales up in 19 of its 20 product categories and margins improving, Defender is investing in additional staff, systems and inventory. The company does not divulge actual sales figures.

Trawler Fest turnout sets record in Stuart
PassageMaker magazine reports its Trawler Fest in Stuart, Fla., saw record attendance. More than 1,600 people took part in the Jan. 22-24 event, held at the Hutchinson Island Marriott.

“Show setup was smooth, there was a well-managed flow of attendees, turnout was better than expected, and the attitude was positive,” said Fred Azar, of Outer Reef Yachts, an American Global Yacht Group company and national sponsor of the event. He said he sold an Outer Reef 63 at the show.
Trawler Fest has expanded this year with a California venue. Trawler Fest San Diego was to be held in February at the Kona Kai Resort and Marina, starting with PassageMaker University Feb. 24-25, followed by the main event Feb. 26-28.

PassageMaker is owned by Dominion Enterprises, of Norfolk, Va., the parent company of Soundings Trade Only.

Combined boat-trailer certification launched
The National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Trailer Certification program and the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers have begun an effort enabling boat-trailer makers to achieve NMMA certification and NATM compliance inspections in a single visit by an NATM Inspector.

Beginning with 2010 model-year boat trailers, the joint certification program is aimed at increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness for boat-trailer manufacturers.

“Given the shifting economy, we’re all looking for new ways to save time and money and by simplifying the trailer inspection and certification process we’re able to do that,” said Robert Newsome, NMMA director of engineering standards, in a statement.

Boat trailer manufacturers looking to enroll in the joint inspection program should contact Newsome at (312) 946-6275 or e-mail rnewsome@nmma.org.

Ohio boating pioneer Jim Sima dies at 82
Jim Sima, an icon in the Ohio marine industry, died recently at the age of 82. He founded Sima Motors Corp. in 1953 in Maple Heights, Ohio, and expanded the business into boat sales under the Sima Marine Sales banner in 1956.

During his more than 50 years in the marine industry, Sima was a leader of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, and the only member to serve as its chairman on three different occasions.

In 1973, Sima was chairman of the show committee that initiated the North American In-Water Sail and Power Boat Show at Cedar Point, the largest in-water show still held annually on the Great Lakes. In addition, he served on virtually every other LEMTA committee, from membership to legislative relations.
Statewide, Sima was a founder of the Marine Trades Association of Ohio, known today as the Boating Associations of Ohio. On the national level, Sima was a founding member of the board of directors of the Marine Retailers Association of America, and later served as MRAA chairman from 1977 to 1979.

Boat-listing Web sites partner with sailing firm
YachtWorld.com and Boats.com, divisions of Dominion Enterprises, have formed a new partnership with BlueWater Sailing, which both companies say will be mutually beneficial.

The boats-for-sale listing sites YachtWorld.com and Boats.com will provide a feed of current BlueWater advertisers on a private label search for BlueWater Web site visitors. BlueWater will make its boat test and destination editorial available to YachtWorld.com and Boats.com visitors.

“This partnership will allow the BWS visitors a much greater choice of boats to buy online. It also provides enhanced visibility for boats being advertised by YachtWorld.com and Boats. com broker/dealer clients,” said Jason White, director of business development, YachtWorld.com and Boats.com, in a statement.
Dominion Enterprises is the parent company of Soundings Trade Only.

Pump manufacturer acquires drain firm
Shurflo, the Cyprus, Calif.-based manufacturer of pumps and systems, purchased the Ambassador line of stainless-steel and glass vessel sinks, drains and accessories.

The Ambassador Marine sink program is now part of the Shurflo family of marine plumbing products, and is being called the Shurflo Marine Sink program.

Ambassador’s principals, Scott and Marty Spiegel, will remain as part of the Shurflo team to ensure program continuity, according to the company.

Harris Battery expands Ohio headquarters
Harris Battery doubled the size of its corporate headquarters and regional distribution center in Bolivar, Ohio, to 44,000 square feet.

“The expansion translates into increased inventory and our ability to respond even more quickly and cost-effectively,” company president Jerry Harris said in a statement.

He said the expansion was necessary with Harris Battery’s growth from a regional company to a national one.

Harris Battery provides replacement and original-equipment batteries for marine, RV, commercial, industrial, renewable energy, uninterruptible power supply, and other applications.

Cover company doubles number of franchises
Fast Wrap USA of Reno, Nev., added four new franchises to its portfolio.

The new franchises are located in Las Vegas; Sacramento, Calif.; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; and Dania Beach, Fla. They join existing franchises in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Washington.

Fast Wrap provided special training for each new franchise in its business procedures and IT processes. Participants also gained hands-on experience by covering boats, PWC, scaffolding, tents, hay and cars.

Brewer commits $2.3M to R.I. marina upgrades
Freezing temperatures and a slow economy didn’t stop Brewer Yacht Yards and Marinas from investing millions in its Rhode Island properties.

The company is investing some $2.3 million in various projects at its Warwick, R.I., marinas, according to a recent story in the Warwick Beacon. The figure includes $1.8 million for a new sea wall at the Greenwich Bay South marina, and new restroom facilities at the south and east yards, estimated at $300,000 each.

The sea wall should be finished by April, and the two restrooms will be ready by the boating season, the newspaper reports.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.

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