For the Record: Southport boat production will be shifted to Maine

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Kenway Corp. recently completed the acquisition of Southport Boats' tooling and equipment and plans to resume production immediately. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Manufacturing operations are being moved from North Carolina to Kenway's facility in Augusta, Maine, and the boats will be built alongside the company's Maritime and Maritime Skiff family fishing boats.

Sales and marketing will be done by Kenway's sister company, Maritime Marine LLC, although the Southport brand will remain independent in the marketplace, the company says.

Southport ceased operations in September, pending a sale of the company's assets by the American Global Yacht Group.

One change resulting from the move will be a transition of the Southport hull from traditional open molding to advanced vacuum-infusion closed-molding techniques.

"Our intent is to reintroduce the models as the Southport 27 and the Southport 29 for a variety of reasons," Ian Kopp, president of Maritime and vice president of Kenway, says in a statement. "Primarily we intend to draw a clear distinction between the 'old' Southport and the 'new' Southport. That is important."

New boats should be available in May.

The company says Tom Johnson will partner with Southport as its director of sales and dealer relations. Its first dealer is Smith Yacht Sales of Hingham, Mass.

Several industry veterans mourned

Ferretti Group CEO Salvatore Basile passed away suddenly March 27 after suffering a heart attack. He was 58.

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Basile began his career in the late 1970s working for CM-Carlo Mazzo, serving in roles of increasing responsibility in the groups ZF, Saeco, Demm SpA, De Longhi and Baxi SpA. He was appointed CEO at Ferretti in 2009.

"He will always be remembered for the great love he had for his work, his strategic vision and strong, sensitive personality, qualities he managed to convey instantly to all group employees with enthusiasm, motivation and strength," the company says in a statement.

The industry also lost other longtime members in February and March.

  • Gerry Driscoll, a renowned competitive sailor and California marine industry icon, died March 12 at his home. He was 86.

Driscoll and his brother, Harlan, opened a boatyard in 1947 on San Diego's Shelter Island. The business, under Gerry Driscoll's leadership, eventually underwent multiple expansions to become Driscoll Boat Works.

Driscoll held a number of competitive sailing records, including race victories in the Star Class world championship in 1944; the 1959, 1960 and 1971 Lipton Cups; and the 1965 and 1966 Congressional Cup. He was involved with six America's Cup campaigns as a competitor.

  • Industry veteran George Shaw passed away March 19 at his home in Macomb Township, Mich. He was 86.

Shaw, a Navy veteran of World War II, worked in the marine industry for 43 years. He served as sales manager at Gray Marine, which was later bought by Crusader Marine, and also Thermo Electron. He retired in 1988.

"He loved dealing with the people. He loved to sell," his son Thomas Shaw says. "He met so many friends through the boating industry. He loved his job. He was very dedicated."

  • Longtime Taylor Made Products employee Anthony Bennice died March 7 in Plymouth, Mass. He was 88.

Bennice, of Gloversville, N.Y., served in the Army during World War II from 1942-45. He worked at the former G. Levor and Co., and later at Taylor Made, where he retired as sales manager after more than 20 years of service.

"Tony was recognized and respected as the face of Taylor Made for over 20 years in the '70s and '80s. He lived life to the fullest, loved the industry and never stopped asking and caring how Taylor Made was doing since his retirement," says vice president of sales and marketing David Karpinski.

  • Connecticut lost a respected boatbuilder when Richard Thomas "Rick" Persson died Feb. 20 at Yale-New Haven Hospital after falling ill at home the preceding week. He was 55.

From his youth, Persson worked at the family boatbuilding business in Old Saybrook - his father's Seth Persson Boat Builders - and for the last 14 years at Cove Landing Marina in Hamburg, a hamlet near the Connecticut River.

He developed a reputation for fine craftsmanship in the construction and restoration of wood boats, a craft he learned from his father.

Analysts are bullish on Brunswick

After a meeting between Brunswick officials and RBC Capital Markets, analysts say discussions with the boatbuilder support its "positive view of [Brunswick] shares."

"While still too early to call this year's selling season, the cycle is on the cusp of turning and Brunswick's competitive advantages (e.g., low-cost production, better distribution, superior product development capabilities) should enable the company to benefit disproportionately as industry conditions improve," RBC Capital said in early March.

During discussions, CEO Dusty McCoy reiterated his view that 2010 likely will mark the bottom of the cycle.

"While boat show sales often have limited predictive value, management is encouraged by the quality of discussions between dealers and consumers and a seemingly rational competitive environment," the RBC Capital report says. "Near term, management seems more positive on smaller boat segments. While buyers in bigger boat segments have the desire to trade up, many are still under water on their existing boats.

"This should change as wealth accumulates, but it will likely take time for the larger boat segments to turn."

Internationally, Brunswick is forecasting sales growth of 25 percent in China this year as boating becomes more popular in a nation that's growing wealthier, McCoy says.

"We believe the long-term potential in the marine business is larger than anywhere else in the world," McCoy said in an interview with Bloomberg while attending a luxury fair in Hainan. "There is so much wealth here it is unique. Boating culture will take hold very strongly."

Wide interest is shown in MRAA president's post

As of late March the Marine Retailers Association of America had received about 70 applications in its search for a president to replace Phil Keeter, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Applications were being accepted through the end of the month.

"I'm happy to see the numbers to date. Sixty-nine résumés is a large stack to sort through and score," MRAA chairman Dave Foulkrod says. "We are seeing high-quality candidates, though it will be up to the committee to be the final judge. The applicants are coming from diverse professional backgrounds whose privacy we must protect."

Search committee members were to discuss applicants to develop a top candidate list during a conference call that was scheduled in early April. Applicants were to be interviewed by the end of April and a fourth-quarter appointment was anticipated.

Obama signs repeal of 1099 requirement

President Obama on April 14 signed the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, which repeals the 1099 tax-reporting requirement established in the health care overhaul law that passed last year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported.

The bill, which passed the House last month, had widespread marine industry       support.

The 1099 provision required businesses to send a 1099 tax form and collect W-9 information from every vendor from which it purchased more than $600 worth of goods or services each year.

According to the Small Business Administration, 97.4 percent of boatbuilders are considered small businesses and 94.8 percent of boat dealers have annual receipts of less than $10 million.

The NMMA and Marine Retailers Association of America had urged that the provision be repealed.

NMMA reports stronger boat show season

The National Marine Manufacturers Association says that 70 percent of its winter boat and sport shows saw an increase in attendance and that the others remained flat or were down by single digits.

Many exhibitors across the NMMA shows reported sales increases from last year, strong leads and more attendees looking to make a purchase this year, the association says.

"Increases in attendance and reports of strong sales at shows reinforce notions of pent-up demand and the beginning of an industry recovery in 2011 and into 2012," Ben Wold, executive vice president of NMMA boat and sport shows, says in a statement.

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The NMMA produced 14 shows this year, and attendance increased at 10 of them: Nashville Boat & Sportshow (5 percent); Atlanta Boat Show (1 percent); Kansas City Boat & Sportshow (7 percent); Minneapolis Boat Show (26 percent); Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow (9 percent); Strictly Sail Chicago (2 percent); Atlantic City Boat Show (114 percent); St. Louis Boat & Sportshow (9 percent); Miami International Boat Show; (12 percent) and New England Boat Show (5 percent).

The other four shows had flat attendance or saw single-digit declines: The Baltimore Boat Show broke even with 2010 attendance; the Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show was down 7 percent; the New York Boat Show was down 6 percent; and Strictly Sail Miami was down 8 percent, compared with 2009.

And the evidence of recovery continued right into spring.

The Maine Boatbuilders Show, held in late March in Portland, saw attendance climb to prerecession levels, organizers say.

The show saw 6,366 people come through the gates. Organizers handed out 1,600 exhibitor tags and about 150 complimentary tickets.

"Each person here is like a Christmas present," show founder Phin Sprague Jr., owner of event host Portland Yacht Services, says.

Organizers of the ninth annual Savannah (Ga.) International Boat Show, held March 4-6, report that nearly 50 boats were sold on-site at the show and exhibitors reported strong leads.

Attendance was down slightly this year, they say, as about 5,000 people came out for the event, which is organized by JBM & Associates.

"Our sales units and volume were up substantially over last year, and we met hundreds of new prospective customers. We are optimistic about 2011," Sea Ray of Savannah general manager Paul Williams says in a statement.

"The people we talked to we had not spoken to in recent history," says Will Massey, manager of Custom Marine. "Instead of buying quickly, as consumers have done in the past, we feel that they are researching and shopping longer prior to making their final decision. The buyers were looking for value in the $22,000 to $50,000 range."

Teleflex divests itself of its marine business

Teleflex Inc. sold its marine business to an affiliate of private investment firm H.I.G. Capital LLC for $121.6 million, consisting of $101.6 million in cash proceeds, the buyer's assumption of about $15.5 million in liabilities related to the business and a $4.5 million subordinated note from the buyer.

"Today we took another step toward achieving our strategic objective of becoming a pure-play medical technology company and continuing to focus on the development of our portfolio of quality medical technology products. As a result of this transaction our medical technology products are expected to represent approximately 90 percent of our total revenues for 2011," chairman, president and CEO Benson F. Smith says in a statement.

The marine business, which generated net revenue of about $195 million last year, is a global provider of steering and throttle controls and engine and drive assemblies for the recreational marine market. Teleflex Marine is a provider of OEM and aftermarket steering and control products and accessories.

The company is adjusting its financial estimates with respect to forecast 2011 revenue from a range of $1.81 billion to $1.84 billion to a range of $1.625 billion to $1.655 billion.

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue.

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