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For the Record: Small-business loan bill delayed until September

The U.S. Senate shelved a plan in late July to create a $30 billion loan fund for cash-strapped small businesses, delaying final passage of the legislation until September at the earliest. Even if the Senate approved a compromised bill, it would have to go back to the House, which was set to begin its August break.

"We are disappointed that the Senate could not resolve procedural differences and come to an agreement which would have allowed the bill a final vote, where it would have prevailed with strong bipartisan support," says Mat Dunn, legislative director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The NMMA supported the measure, which included provisions to enhance and expand the Small Business Administration Dealer Floorplan Financing Program.

"Ultimately, we'll have to get back to this bill in September, when Congress reconvenes for an abbreviated period before the midterm elections," Dunn says.

Boat, engine builders reporting progress

Chris-Craft announced a sales turnaround after a couple of challenging years in the industry and production is ramping up at the central Florida-based boatbuilder.

Executives were "pleasantly surprised" when they received twice as many orders for new boats as they expected during a dealers meeting, according to a local newspaper report.

Vice president of sales Jeff Ellis says he thought the worst of the recession was over for the boatbuilder.

  • Cummins is expanding its High-Horsepower Technical Center and high-horsepower engine product line at its manufacturing facility in Seymour, Ind., which is expected to result in approximately 200 engineering and manufacturing jobs in the next five years, the company announced.

Cummins plans to invest approximately $100 million in the expansion at the Seymour plant, which now employs nearly 450 people. The technical center expansion will almost double the current engineering footprint in the facility and increase Cummins' high-horsepower mechanical development capability. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2011.

  • Rivolta Yachts of Sarasota, Fla., is launching a new small-craft division that will manufacture panga-style boats. Renzo Rivolta, division chief and corporate vice president, designed the Mojito line to be "sophisticated and practical."

Company founder Piero Rivolta, acknowledging a challenging marine market in a lagging economy, says, "We believe there's still a place for high quality at good value."


Mojitos are available from 16 to 22 feet, with 24, 26 and 28 versions soon to be introduced, as well as jet versions.

  • Frisini Motorsports reports production is in full swing at its Rutherford, N.J., facility. Partner/owner John Cunningham, who bought the company in February, says Frisini is producing one boat a week. It was producing about two boats a month after the purchase, he says. Cunningham also announced the company's latest dealer, Oregon Custom Marine.
  • Instrument and vessel monitoring manufacturer Maretron moved its manufacturing to a larger facility, doubling floor space and capacity for production. "Maretron is rapidly moving beyond what can be considered as a start-up company and has more recently been stretched by the sales success from our vessel-monitoring products," says Jeff Ingelese, vice president of manufacturing, in a statement. "This new facility not only provides relief, but also room for future expansion."

Whaler launches Costco program, new website

Boston Whaler, together with the Costco Auto Program, announced a pilot program to bring Costco members special pricing on Boston Whaler's Super Sport, Montauk and Dauntless models.

Boston Whaler also will provide Costco members with exclusive incentives of as much as $2,000, all additional incentives available through other national promotions, and a $500 Costco cash card after completing a post-purchase Costco member survey.


"This partnership between Boston Whaler and Costco provides exceptional value for both Costco members and prospective Boston Whaler customers," Boston Whaler president John Ward says in a statement.

Running through September, the exclusive offer will be available at 40 Boston Whaler dealer locations and about 150 corresponding Costco warehouses across the nation. The boats will be purchased through local dealerships.

Boston Whaler also announced the launch of its revamped website.

The new-and-improved "Why Whaler" section, which is meant to educate current and potential Whaler owners about the brand's identity and strengths, has gone from a text-heavy format to one that emphasizes multimedia.

The "Boating Lifestyle Configurator" asks customers to respond to a short series of questions that helps guide them to the model line that suits them best.

Skarne signs contract to deliver patrol boat

Milford, Conn.-based Skarne Marine landed a contract to supply a patrol boat to Santa Barbara Security Services of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. The security firm chose the Finland-built Minor Offshore 25 with a Volvo Penta D4-225.

"We are very pleased and proud to have been awarded this contract," says Carl Skarne, owner of Skarne Marine, the exclusive importer of Minor Offshore boats to the United States and North America.

Lawsuit says Suzuki outboard overheats

Two men in Alaska are suing American Suzuki Motor Corp., alleging that the company's DF300 outboard overheats, causing safety concerns and shortening the life of the engine, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was filed in June in Superior Court in the First Judicial District at Ketchikan. Suzuki, which had yet to answer the complaint in early August, asked that the case be moved to federal court.

The suit was filed by Ronald Moyer and Kevin Beck, who are seeking class-action status for the case. They have asked to represent a class of people who purchased Suzuki DF300 outboards and were Alaska residents at the time of purchase.

"Examination of several Suzuki DF300 engines operated in the waters near Ketchikan also disclosed a pattern of valves, valve guides and valve seats with dimensions falling outside of design tolerances," the suit alleges. "Examination of Suzuki DF300 engines has also found, among other problems, cylinders that are out of round."

These problems are indicative of overheating, the suit says. This will lead to reduced service life of the engine and "compromised Moyer's ability to use the Suzuki DF300 engines safely while also achieving Suzuki's intended low emissions of pollution and good fuel economy."

It also causes a dangerous situation on the water, according to court documents.

Moyer says he is aware of at least 40 sales that fall within the proposed class definition, and he believes that the class consists of more than 100 potential claimants. The suit requests that claimants receive three times the amount of actual damages or $500 a violation, whichever is greater, as well as other relief.

Boating fatalities climb despite fewer accidents

The Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety in August released its Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report, which reveals a 3.81 percent increase in boating accident deaths and a 0.81 percent increase in related injuries. However, the number of boating accidents decreased 1.23 percent.

The Coast Guard recorded 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage stemming from 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009.

"The data in the 2009 publication echoes the message that life jacket wear is critical," says Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy. "Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket. The two most important things boaters can do to prevent the loss of life is to wear a life jacket and take a boater education course."

Brunswick moving Cabo production to Hatteras

Brunswick says it will consolidate production of its Hatteras and Cabo brands at the Hatteras facility in New Bern, N.C., and close the California plant where Cabo yachts are produced.

The Adelanto, Calif., plant will be closed by the end of the year as production is phased down and moved to New Bern, the company says in a statement. This is the 16th plant Brunswick has closed or is in the process of closing since the end of 2007.

Approximately 40 positions will be lost with the move, Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera says. Many members of the Cabo manufacturing team and certain managers will be offered jobs and relocation assistance to move to New Bern, the company says in a statement.

Yamaha still seeking a buyer for Century

Negotiations for the sale of the assets of Century Boats have not resulted in a purchase, according to Yamaha Motor Corp. USA. However, the company says it remains interested in selling the assets, in whole or in part.

"We had been in negotiations with entities interested in acquiring Century, but they did not lead to a sale," Yamaha Marine Group vice president Dean Burnett says in a statement. "We want to be sure the industry knows the assets of Century are available."


Yamaha discontinued Century production in December 2009 to focus on its core operations.

The company purchased Century in 1995 as part of a strategic plan to grow market share for its outboards in the offshore category. Century's annual sales peaked in 2007 at more than 1,000 boats.

Burger warns Wisconsin 70 layoffs are possible

Burger Boat Co. officials told a Wisconsin state agency in July that the company could lay off approximately 70 employees during the next six months. By law, employers with 50 or more employees must give 60 days' notice before a mass layoff or closing. Burger has about 230 employees.

"These layoffs will be in addition to a series of small layoffs that have occurred over the last several months," Jim Ruffolo, president, and Pete Bilski, vice president of human resources, wrote in a letter to the Department of Workforce Development in late July, the local newspaper reports.


Ruffolo told the newspaper that the notice was filed "should a worst-case scenario play out."

Industry veterans Gant and Katica are mourned

Roger Gant Jr., who served as president of Glen Raven Inc. from 1972 to 1989, died July 26 at the age of 86.

Gant served the company in a variety of management positions and as president and a board member for 55 years. He also led the Glen Raven team that created the Sunbrella brand of performance fabrics in the early 1960s.

"It was my good fortune to have Roger as a wise and patient mentor," Glen Raven president and CEO Allen E. Gant Jr. says in a statement. "As is true for many Glen Raven associates, Roger not only taught me the principles of good business, but also the value of family, community and people. He was a good and faithful steward of our company and set us on a solid course that is sustaining even today."

Under Gant's leadership, Glen Raven's sales increased fivefold and sales per employee more than doubled. One of Gant's most important achievements for Glen Raven was the introduction of synthetic awning fabrics and creation of the Sunbrella brand, beginning in 1961, the company says.

ZF Marine Group announced the passing July 8 of Thomas P. Katica, the company's longtime account manager for the Western region. He was 56.

Katica died at his home on Whidbey Island, Wash., after a two-year battle with cancer.

"This is a great loss, not only for ZF Marine, but the marine industry as a whole," Wolfgang Schmid, president and general manager of ZF Marine, says in a statement. "Tom's passion for our business and this industry was clearly evident every single day. His warm smile greeted everyone he met and his infectious personality created many lifelong friendships."

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue.



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