Two boatbuilders are pointing to encouraging signs on the sales front as the reason they are adding employees. Cigarette Racing Team recently hired 19 employees, and company officials say production is ramping up. Some of the workers had been laid off last year, and some are new hires, the company says.
The 150,000-square-foot factory is working in "high gear," according to company president and CEO Skip Braver. "Though we saw some softening of the market last year, we stayed lean and mean, and we're now in an accelerated mode," Braver says in a statement. "Our boat workers are a very special group. They have distinct skills that are hard to find, and we're glad to welcome them back."
Meanwhile, Fineline Industries, manufacturer of Centurion boats, is calling back a portion of its work force. About 25 percent of the employees who had been laid off will be called back immediately, according to company spokesman Mark Overbye. About 80 people had been laid off, he says.
"It's with great relief and excitement that we are able to return to more normal production rates after the challenges of 2009," Centurion president Rick Lee says in a statement. "We anticipate bringing back our trained work force and look forward to doing some hiring to support our newly growing demand."
The company is reporting increased retail activity and a reduction in inventories, which has resulted in a stream of new 2010 orders. The company currently has enough orders to take it through July, Overbye says.
Kujawa has a new venture after selling Crystal-Pierz
Luke Kujawa, former Crystal-Pierz Marine president and chief operating officer, may have sold most of his Midwest dealerships to Tracker Marine Group, but that doesn't mean the industry veteran is leaving the boat business. In an interview with Soundings Trade Only, Kujawa says he's started a new venture called EOF Opportunity, a management company that will provide liquidity to marine dealers, floorplan entities and manufacturers in the upper Midwest.
Kujawa says his dealerships had been going through a restructuring process for the last few years, and during that time it became obvious to him that "there would seem to be an abnormal amount of cash on the sidelines right now." There are dealers and manufacturers running good businesses but are caught up in economic problems that are no fault of their own, he says.
"They run a good business, but there's nowhere to turn right now," Kujawa says. "There's no cash; there's no lending. They're just trapped or they feel trapped, and we really want to reach out to them. We're in a unique position to be able to provide liquidity to people who find themselves backed into a corner."
Kujawa says the decision to sell most of his family's remaining dealerships was not something he actively pursued but came about through circumstance. Crystal-Pierz, which sold Glastron, Bennington and Triton boats, was looking at adding Tracker to the mix.
"We thought they had a lot to offer, but as we were going down that path, with the challenge of finding floorplan and everything, they said, 'Well, would you be interested in selling?' " Kujawa says. "Things just fell into place where we had a willing buyer and a willing seller."
The deal was finalized at the end of December.
Appraisal guide revalues 'non-current' boats
The NADA Marine Guide, published by NADA Appraisal Guides, is now offering a "more accurate value" on its listings of new, non-current boats, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Marine Retailers Association of America and the National Marine Bankers Association.
The NMMA, MRAA and NMBA all support the addition of this new language, which reads: " 'Brand New,' Non-Current - The average retail value does not represent 'brand new' non-current year vehicles. Recent market research shows that 'brand new' non-current models can increase the used value of an identical model by 6 percent to 12 percent."
The addition of new language follows the devaluing of new, non-current boats by banks as a result of consulting used listings in the NADA Marine Guide. When determining the value of new non-current boats, banks have only been willing to finance these boats at a used price - much less than the new, non-current price. As a result, boat dealers and buyers have been unable to secure proper financing, ultimately deterring the purchase of new, non-current boats by qualified buyers, according to the trade organizations.
The inclusion of the new language can be found in the January-April edition of the 2010 NADA Marine Guide, which was released in December.
Export lender floorplans Campion Marine
Northstar Trade Finance Inc., a Canadian-based export lender, is expanding its offering of floorplan financing to Campion Marine, Canada's largest independently owned fiberglass powerboat builder.
"We recognize that the No. 1 issue for marine dealers in the U.S. is the lack of floorplan financing, so we have been working hard to find a solution," Campion general manager Brock Elliott says in a statement. "We hope this move will help improve the market and boost Campion's sales to the U.S."
Northstar provides support to Canadian exporters by offering financing to creditworthy buyers of eligible Canadian goods and services.
Everglades plant damaged in fire
No one was injured in a Jan. 3 fire at the Everglades Boats manufacturing facility in Edgewater, Fla. The fire, which started at approximately 4:30 p.m. in the research-and-development portion of the plant, was believed to have begun when an overhead light burst and showered sparks over a curtain separating work sections, the company says in a release.
City firefighters were dispatched at 5:26 p.m., arrived at 5:32 and had the fire under control at 6:39 p.m., officials say. Materials, tools and the facility sustained damage. The plant was closed when the fire broke out.
"We were blessed to have such a quick response from the local authorities," company president Stephen Dougherty says in a statement. "Based on our initial visual inspections, our current production rate will continue unhindered."
Damage estimates were not immediately available, pending an investigation.
For 2010, Everglades has increased production on its main manufacturing lines and has increased the plant and office work force to a total of 60.
Home Port acquires JWI, adds Jock West to team
Home Port Marine Marketing, an international marine products development, publicity and promotion consultancy, acquired JWI, a Rhode Island-based marine marketing communications consultancy headed by Jock West. West will join Home Port as a senior member of the client services team and director of business development. JWI's clients include Interlux, Awlgrip and Trumpy Yachts.
"We've worked closely with Jock West over the past two years on several marketing projects, and during that time, we all came to recognize that a combination of our two firms would significantly enhance the publicity, promotion, creative marketing ideas and media services we could provide to our industry," Home Port COO David Pilvelait says in a statement.
The acquisition of JWI will also allow West to devote additional time to another project he's involved in as a principal - the resurgence of yacht builder Trumpy Yachts. "The combination of Home Port and JWI is an excellent strategic fit that will offer expanded resources to all of our clients, boost recognition of Home Port as a leading provider of marketing services to the marine industry, and increase opportunities for further growth," West says in a statement.
YachtWorld seminars draw robust turnouts
More than 270 yacht brokers recently attended YachtWorld.com's Yacht Brokerage University seminars in Fort Lauderdale and Sarasota, Fla. The theme was "transition," and attendees received a global industry overview and learned about new marketing techniques, including current YachtWorld.com features and benefits.
"A major part of our mission is to provide yacht brokers with the tools and knowledge to get them ahead of their competition and keep them there," says Ian Atkins, vice president and general manager of YachtWorld.com, in a statement. "Making them aware of the global scale of the current transition and the pace at which these changes are taking place is vital."
YachtWorld.com and Soundings Publications are divisions of Dominion Enterprises.
MRAA petitions Senate on estate tax relief
The Marine Retailers Association of America has joined with 43 other national small business trade associations in asking the U.S. Senate to pass permanent estate tax legislation that improves on a House-passed bill. The MRAA has long supported total repeal of the estate tax, which it says was originally passed in the late 1800s to pay for the Spanish-American War.
With total repeal unlikely in the near future, the MRAA is urging Congress to provide more permanent and certain relief for family-owned businesses and farms by increasing the per-person exemption to $5 million, which would be indexed for inflation, and reducing the top estate tax rate to 35 percent.
"We believe this relief is critical for boat dealerships and marina operators at a time when we are struggling to create jobs," MRAA chairman Ed Lofgren says in a statement.
Remembering four industry mainstays
The marine industry saw the loss of four well-known figures December.
- Sparkman & Stephens on Dec. 22 reported the death of Robert Lee Garland at the age of 101. Garland joined Olin and Rod Stephens and Drake Sparkman in 1930, and served in the brokerage department and as a board member and president until his retirement in 1994. His 64-year career at the venerable New York firm was interrupted only by military service, according to reports.
During World War II, Garland was a Navy lieutenant commander involved with development and construction of fast torpedo boats. He sailed aboard many notable Sparkman & Stephens yachts out of Oyster Bay, N.Y., including Baruna, Windigo, Gesture, Northern Light, Argyll and Tempest. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, Cruising Club of America and Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.
- David Davignon, president of Edey & Duff, died Dec. 14 at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, Mass. He was 62. "The Edey & Duff family of owners, employees and customers are deeply saddened," says Kathy Harding of Harding Boat Works, the principal owner of Edey & Duff. "We have lost a trusted leader, a respected professional and a true friend."
Hired as a fiberglass technician in 1970, Davignon became a close associate of Peter Duff, rising through the ranks to become president. He worked on all the early products - the Stone Horse, Dovekie and Shearwater - and was central to introducing the Doughdish, Stuart Knockabout, Conch 27, Sakonnet 23, Fatty Knees and Beetle Whale Boat.
- H. Joe Garelick, chairman of the board of Garelick Mfg. Co., died Dec. 8 at age 85. Garelick and his brother Saul started the St. Paul, Minn.-based manufacturing company 57 years ago in the back of an appliance store. The company's first product was a lightweight aluminum marine boarding ladder that is still manufactured today. In 1998, Garelick and his brother were elected to Minnesota's North Central Marine Trade Association's Hall of Fame.
A World War II veteran, Garelick was an avid boater who is survived by his wife, Eileen; sons David and Rick; and two grandchildren.
- Marine industry veteran Donald G. Rocheleau died at his home Dec. 18 after a battle with cancer. He was 76. Rocheleau was president of Don Rocheleau Associates, the exclusive North American representative for Premier Products, a manufacturer of stainless-steel hardware for the marine industry. Before starting the company, he spent 33 years at the Attwood Corp. in Lowell, Mich., retiring as president and CEO.
"The greatest example of Rocheleau's vision and vigor may be the orchestration of a long-desired marine industry objective - to unify the marine manufacturing industry under a single association banner," according to a 2000 statement released in conjunction with his induction into the NMMA Hall of Fame. "He achieved this as chairman of the Boating Industry Association in 1979, the year it merged with the National Association of Engine & Boat Manufacturers to become the National Marine Manufacturers Association. He would serve as NMMA's first vice chairman - 1979-1983 - and its third chairman - 1983-1985."
Several companies expand, move
A number of industry firms are making moves with an eye toward increasing business.
- Perko has broken ground on a new investment cast foundry, increasing the Miami facility's manufacturing operation to 450,000 square feet. Production is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2010.
"We've been in business for over 100 years, and we're in it for the long haul," vice president of sales and marketing George Bellwoar says in a statement. "Right now, times are hard, but this expansion will enable us to be in an even better position when the market turns around."
- Fawcett Boat Supplies was to move to a new Annapolis, Md., property in January. At more than 12,000 square feet, the new property is larger than the current downtown Annapolis location and includes additional space for offices, outboard service and inflatable repair. The move marks the fourth location change in the company's 61-year history.
"With its close proximity to boatyards, waterfront communities and frontage on a major thoroughfare, this new location also offers greater convenience for our wholesale and retail customers," says company president Stephen Ripley in a statement.
- Life Raft and Survival Equipment was scheduled to open its new home in early January. The company, based in Portsmouth, R.I., is consolidating two facilities into one central location in Tiverton, R.I. The new 25,000-square-foot service center and retail store will more than double the service area and allow ample room for life raft displays.
- After 27 years in the Seattle area, Duroboat the manufacturer of no-rivet, no-weld aluminum skiffs, fishing boats and yacht tenders, is moving to Tennessee. The builder has closed its facility in Maltby, Wash., to relocate to an 8-acre site in western Tennessee. The purpose is to logistically better serve the more populated Eastern markets, where it hopes to expand.
NMMA opposes EPA on emissions ruling
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is gearing up for the next step in its efforts to head off an Environmental Protection Agency regulation restricting greenhouse gas emissions. As expected, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in December declared carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions a danger to the public - a move that could lead to a nationwide carbon cap regulation if Congress fails to enact climate legislation before the end of 2010.
The announcement, which was anticipated by the NMMA and others, finalizes an initial "endangerment finding" by the government earlier this year. Jackson says legislation is the best way to tackle greenhouse gas emissions but indicated EPA regulatory action can complement such legislation.
The NMMA, like virtually every industry group, strongly opposed an endangerment finding by EPA and greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act in formal comments late last year. The NMMA has been able to secure language in both the House and Senate ensuring any new recreational marine engine and vessel regulations that may be promulgated by the EPA under the climate change bill would be done within the non-road category.
For more information, e-mail Jeff Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 737-9776.
Report predicts small dip in Florida boating activity
A four-year study of Florida's marine facilities and its economics shows the state's boaters spent $3.38 billion on boating trips in 2007 and $5.15 billion for repairs, marina expenses and other costs not associated with specific outings. The 572-page report, "Florida Boating Access Facilities Inventory and Economic Study, including a Pilot Study for Lee County," notes that boating trips and other spending related to vessels support 97,000 jobs in Florida. Boaters took 21.7 million trips in 2007.
The report predicts a 1.8 percent decline statewide in boating demand in the next 16 years in Florida. About half the 63 counties in the study will see a decrease in boating by 2025 because of changes in demographics. "The results of the study show the importance of launch lanes, parking lots and their overall condition, as well as the area's level of development - the number of developed facilities, such as restrooms - at the ramp," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission economist David Harding says in a statement.
The study projects a price tag of $68 million to $111 million to maintain access to water at the 2006 level.
This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue.