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For the Record: Hinckley has new majority owners

The Hinckley Company announced that Scout Partners, through a sizable "growth-capital investment," has acquired a majority ownership in the privately held Maine-based boatbuilder, which has corporate offices in Rhode Island.

"This is a match made in heaven to have partners who have an unbelievable commitment to growing an American business," says Hinckley CEO James McManus. "It really secures all the things that have made Hinckley so special over the last 83 years in terms of introducing and building the finest boats in the world and servicing the finest boats in the world."

Scout Partners is a partnership between David Howe and Peterson Capital LLC, and it was created specifically to work with U.S.-based companies that have shown significant potential for long-term success. Peterson Capital was founded by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Peter G. Peterson, according to Hinckley.

"We love the Hinckley brand and plan to nurture it to preserve all that is Hinckley," Howe says in a statement. "We're very excited about the future potential of the company, including the boatbuilding and service businesses."

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, though McManus says the investment was "substantial."

McManus says customers should expect a "seamless" transition with no infrastructure changes planned. The company hopes to build on the positive sales momentum that began in the fourth quarter of 2009 - "the strongest fourth quarter in our history," he says - and continued through 2010. He points to the Talaria 48, the drawing of which were introduced at last fall's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, as evidence.

"We anticipated selling one T48 in the fourth quarter; we sold three," McManus says. "During the darkest days - June 2008 through September '09 - I was confident that once things started to stabilize our customers and potential customers would be the first ones back in the market, and we have found our clients are now very much back into their lives of cruising."

The recession taught company leaders lessons in efficiency and maintaining the quality associated with The Hinckley Company, McManus says. And that has translated to momentum, or "exit speed," out of the final turn of the recession, as well as a "healthy backlog" of boat orders, he says.

Hinckley builds sailboats and powerboats in Trenton and Southwest Harbor, Maine, and operates eight service yards along the East Coast. There are around 1,500 Hinckley boat owners and 5,000 service customers worldwide, the company says.

Industry players are buying and selling

The end of 2010 brought a series of sales and acquisitions aimed at consolidation and downsizing.

  • Bavaria Yachtbau GmbH and Cantiere del Pardo Group (Grand Soleil and Dufour) signed an agreement for the lease and subsequent acquisition of the Cantiere del Pardo group's operations by Bavaria. Terms were not released.

As part of the deal, Bavaria will contribute the capital needed to support the business of the Cantiere del Pardo Group while lenders work to restructure existing balance-sheet debt, the companies said.

"We are very happy to be able to bring together these great brands to create a top global player," Jens Ludmann, CEO of Bavaria Yachtbau, said in a statement.

  • Rotonics Manufacturing Inc. completed the sale of its plant in Gardena, Calif., the company announced. The company consolidated plant operations from nine locations into three in Colorado, Minnesota and Illinois.

"This asset sale represents the best outcome for Rotonics' strategic restructuring, the majority of our California associates and the business interests of Rotational Molding Inc.," CEO Richard Leary said.

Rotonics is one of the largest rotational molding companies in the United States. Its three manufacturing branches across the country offer a diverse product line, from buoys and pontoons, linen and laundry carts, to bins, pallets and refuse containers.

  • Quality Power and Sail, a boat export, brokerage and service company in Broward County, Fla., recently acquired Nautical Ventures South, a 26-year-old water-sports retailer and outfitting company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Nautical Ventures specializes in a range of water-sports equipment and is ranked as a top 10 dealer for Hobie Cat and Ocean Kayak.

Earlier this fall, Quality Power and Sail took over the company's 2.5-acre site in Dania Beach, Fla. The site was remodeled, and the 20,000-square-foot facility was renamed The Dania Marine Center.

The marine center now offers the full line of water-sports equipment; used and consignment vessels; a full-service facility for the refurbishment of boats ranging from 25 to 45 feet; and secure boat and trailer storage.

Manufacturers seek to expand, acquire

Several industry players are aggressively looking to strengthen their place in the market in these lean economic times.

  • Seattle-based SmartPlug Systems is seeking strategic partnerships to help expand its ETL listed line of electrical products into all markets worldwide. SmartPlug is evaluating partnerships with industry leaders because of increasing interest and demand for existing products in many new industry sectors and market verticals.

Since the plug and connector were approved, sales have grown exponentially, the company said. SmartPlug continues to be approached by representatives of the marine, RV, construction/industrial and emergency vehicle industries who are looking for innovative solutions to power-delivery problems.

  • Andover Coils, a manufacturer of ignition coils and transformers, announced plans to expand its Lafayette, Ind.-based operations, creating as many as 52 new jobs by 2013.

The company plans to invest $1.3 million to upgrade equipment and computer hardware at its 48,000-square-foot headquarters.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered the company as much as $150,000 in performance-based tax credits based on the company's job creation plans. The city of Lafayette will consider additional property tax abatement at the request of Greater Lafayette Commerce.

Andover Coils' growth is the result of a recent acquisition of a competitor based in Illinois. The company employs more than 30 associates in Lafayette and plans to begin hiring additional manufacturing, supervisory and maintenance personnel in the first quarter of next year as additional operations are phased in at the facility.

"As the economy continues to rebound, there is no better time to grow the business by consolidating with a competitor. And there is no better place to do it than here in Indiana, where we have a great work force and 90 percent of our supplier base," co-owner Mike Coyle said in a statement.

  • RPM International acquired Pipeline & Drainage Systems Ltd., a supplier of curb, bridge and channel drainage products for construction and infrastructure markets, primarily in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"We intend to leverage RPM's established sales and distribution network to take the PDS product line deeper into the European marketplace. In particular, this acquisition of PDS complements our USL business and strengthens its already strong position in the U.K. infrastructure market," chairman and CEO Frank Sullivan said in a statement.

Ohio-based RPM International, a holding company, owns subsidiaries that are leaders in specialty coatings, sealants, building materials and related services for the industrial and consumer markets.

West Marine opens Florida flagship store


A 21,000-square-foot West Marine store opened Dec. 9 in Sarasota, Fla., becoming the sixth flagship store for the provider of marine supplies and equipment.

"We're aggressive and we believe in the future and we have the resources to do [this]," West Marine president and CEO Geoff Eisenberg said at a grand-opening celebration. West Marine also has flagships - stores larger than 20,000 square feet - in Brick, N.J.; Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Fla.; San Diego; and Newport, R.I.

West Marine had been underserving the Sarasota market, Eisenberg says.

"The market is big enough," he says. "We know there is potential. The challenge is every area [of the country] is different. Every one of our stores is different because every market is different."

West Marine has closed its two smaller stores in Sarasota. The flagship store, which has about 40 employees, will focus on fishing gear and electronics, store general manager Wayne Seel says. It also will stock engine parts and supplies.

— Chris Landry

Survey: Internet research fuels new-boat sales

A study from Foresight Research shows that 84 percent of new boat buyers had read or seen boat information on the Internet prior to making their purchase decision.

Most used the Internet to compare brands, models, motors and pricing.

Overall, just 15 percent of new buyers discussed boats on social media websites; however, this usage varied significantly by boat segment purchased. Buyers of ski boats and cruisers were significantly more likely to use social media than aluminum fishing boat and personal watercraft buyers.

Further, pre-purchase social media usage decreases significantly with age. Among buyers under the age of 35, nearly one in three (29 percent) used social media to discuss their pending boat purchase.

Foresight announced the findings from its 2010 Boating Industry Internet & Social Media Influence Report.

The report was commissioned by marine industry organizations led by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The study surveyed 3,295 people across the country who purchased a new boat during an 18-month period that ended last August.

This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue.



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