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For the Record: Boatbuilders continue adapting to the slump

The continued stretch of challenging economic reports prompted several prominent boat manufacturers to take action.

• Chris-Craft reported the company is stopping production at its Manatee, Fla., plant for approximately six weeks, beginning in November, but does not anticipate any layoffs before or following the shutdown.

• Century Boat Co. says it is shutting down its boatbuilding plant in Panama City, Fla., for two months because of the slow economy. The November-December closure will include the temporary layoffs of 103 employees.

• Tracker Marine plans to reduce the work force at its Bolivar, Mo., plant by 136, effective Dec. 26. The company plans to move some of the positions from the Bolivar Tracker plant to the Tracker plant in Lebanon. About 100 workers are being asked to apply for those jobs. The Bolivar plant had 234 employees in May before a temporary seasonal layoff of 38 employees.

Sea Ray plant hits a safety milestone
Workers at Sea Ray Boats’ Riverview plant in Knoxville, Tenn., reached the milestone of 4 million work hours without a lost-time incident.

A lost-time incident is an injury to an employee that prevents him or her from returning to work the next day. The Riverview facility reached 4 million time-loss-free hours Sept. 12, after completing four years and 10 days of safe operation.

Sea Ray has 310 employees at the Riverview plant, which manufacturers sport boats and sport cruisers from 24 to 31 feet.

Gulf builder to begin expanding operations
Saunders Yachtworks began work on new headquarters in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Located on the Intracoastal Waterway at the new NorthHarbor Yacht Center, Saunders’ new headquarters is an expansion from its Orange Beach location.

“This 13,000-square-foot office/warehouse/shops building for Yachtworks is the first phase of construction in our plan to create the premier yacht renovation and repair facility in the Northern Gulf,” said John Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Saunders Yachtworks, in a statement.

Plans call for the first building to be occupied by year’s end. In 2009, the company plans to build a 3.5-acre marina basin in the NorthHarbor complex.

Fitzgerald says the company will continue operating its boatyard in the Orange Beach Marina.

Online sales training for Yamaha dealers
A new online sales training module was launched by Yamaha Marine University for dealers, focusing on the importance of good communication, as well as strategies and tactics for increasing sales.

“No Bad Sales,” is the second in a series of online training modules available to Yamaha marine dealers under the “Education” tab in the Yamaha Marine Business System. Dealers contributed to the curriculum through “golden nuggets” — day-to-day techniques that have been “tried and proven” in dealerships.

A comprehensive resource guide for all YMU courses is available on the Yamaha Marine Business System. Dealers can e-mail Libby Smith for a hard copy of the guide.

NMEA hands out awards at San Diego convention
The National Marine Electronics Association presented several industry awards during its annual convention Oct. 1-4 in San Diego.

Icom America, of Bellevue, Wash., took top honors in the communications category for its M604 VHF radio. It’s the third consecutive year the company has won in this category.

Furuno USA of Camas, Wash., was honored with four awards, including Manufacturer of the Year — Support for the third straight year. Furuno’s NavNet won in three categories: radar, for the NavNet 3D DRS Ultra Hi-Definition Radar Series; navigation, for the NavNet 3D MFD12; and fish finding, for the DFF1, NavNet 3D’s Network Sounder.

Norwegian manufacturer Simrad won the best autopilot award for its new AP24-AP28 series. Both models feature the company’s Virtual Rudder Feedback technology, which eliminates the need for a rudder feedback unit when installed on outboard or sterndrive boats.

Online calculation sheets offered in revised format launched a new version of its standards library that offers online automated calculation sheets., based in the Netherlands, provides boatbuilders, component manufacturers and other industry professionals with an online, single-source library of global boatbuilding standards. The ABYC Standards Powered by is available to American Boat and Yacht Council members.

New antifouling paint earns EPA approval
Interlux received U.S. product registration approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for an antifouling paint formulated with a new, copper-free, antifouling agent called ECONEA, developed by Janssen PMP.

The new paint will be part of Interlux’s Pacifica line.

“Paints formulated with ECONEA not only provide exceptional protection from aquatic growth, they help improve vessel appearance, speed and fuel efficiency, while being an option for the boat owner interested in a copper-free paint,” said Dave Helmer, director at Janssen PMP, in a statement.

According to Janssen PMP, research has shown ECONEA provides antifouling protection at low usage levels and can be effectively used on aluminum hulls without the risk of galvanic corrosion.

Industry program wins $90,000 federal grant
Marine University’s Boater101 boating safety course received a $90,000 federal grant to allow for development of an on-water component.

The grant is administered by the Coast Guard.

“At a time when dealers want to make sure the customers are getting what they need to enjoy the boating experience, Boater101 is stepping up to give the knowledge and confidence for safe navigation,” said Susan Engel, president of Wilton Manors, Fla.-based Marine University, in a statement.

The course already includes classroom and online components. Offered at the dealership level, the program provides safety training to customers during the boat-buying process.

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue.



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