Skip to main content

Industry mourns Owens Yacht mainstay

John B. "Jack" Owens, who had been a principal in the family-owned Owens Yacht Co. and later established a real estate firm, died Saturday of heart failure at his Naples, Fla., home. He was 96.

Owens’ father established a custom boatbuilding business in 1925 on Spa Creek in Annapolis, Md., that built about 20 boats a year. After his death in 1933, the business passed to three of his sons: John B. Owens, Charles Owens Jr. and Norman Owens, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Owens graduated from Annapolis High School in 1933 and earned a pre-law degree from St. John's College four years later. In 1936, he and his brothers purchased 8 acres on Bear Creek in Dundalk, where they built a state-of-the-art industrial plant.

They adapted the auto industry’s mass-production methods to boatbuilding. Their first major new product was a 32-foot Owens Cruiser that gained the attention of the public and press at the 1937 New York Boat Show.

When World War II broke out, the company shifted production from pleasure craft to landing craft for the Army when it received a contract to build 2,500 Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel, which Owens supervised.

After the war, Owens and his brothers returned to producing the classic 40-foot Owens Cutter. They switched from building wooden boats to fiberglass vessels in 1957 and developed a line of Owens Flagship V8 marine engines.

They later expanded to facilities in York, Pa., and a plant in Indianapolis, where they built 800 boats a month. Another 500 were constructed in Dundalk.

In 1961, the company was sold to Brunswick Corp., with Owens staying on as president of Brunswick's Owens Boat Division. In 1964, Owens left Brunswick and joined his two brothers in a new venture, Trident Corp., a family-owned real estate company that managed properties remaining from the sale of Owens Yacht Co.

An expert and competitive yachtsman, Owens, who was a member of the Gibson Island Club, won many racing trophies. He also wrote two books: “Cruising Fun for the Family” and “Cruising Guide to the Chesapeake Bay.”

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 9 at St. James' Church, 5757 Solomons Island Road, Lothian, Md.

Surviving are three sons: David Owens of Ruxton, Peter Owens of Paia, Hawaii, and Andrew Owens of Orlando, Fla.; three daughters, Christine Sands of Paia, Amelia Sullivan of Pacifica, Calif., and Elizabeth "Birdie" Owens of Key West; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Click here for the full obituary.

Related

VOLVO-EARNINGS

Volvo Penta Reports Q4, FY22 Results

Net sales of $470 million for the quarter were a 33% increase compared to the prior year period.

Pulse-Report

DEALERS: Are You Improving the Service Experience?

Our monthly Pulse Report survey asks this and other questions about your dealership. Take the survey here.

NMRA-SCHOLARSHIP

NMRA Sets Scholarship Deadline

Students pursuing education in the marine trades can apply for the National Marine Representatives Association awards until April 1.

MARINE-PRODUCTS

Marine Products Reports Record Q4

The builder of Chaparral and Robalo boats reported net sales were up 42% for the quarter and 28% for fiscal year 2022.

1_SHURHOLD

Shurhold Appoints COO

Forrest Ferrari has years of management, business development, IT and quality-assurance experience.

MOBILE-CATCH-CENTER

RBFF, Pure Fishing Partner for a First Catch Center

Pure Fishing will equip a mobile trailer with tackle and gear to bring fishing experiences to areas of South Carolina where participation is low.

Norm

An Oft-Overlooked Sales Opportunity

A recent report from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation showed that women comprise 37% of all anglers. If you haven’t tapped this segment, you’re missing out.

1. 2023 new boat retail outlook

Too Many High-Priced Boats

To wrap up 2022, marine retailers reported lower demand, expressed more negative sentiment and voiced concerns about rising inventory. Boat prices and the economy remained top of mind for dealers in December.

Soundings Nov 2022

New-Boat Registrations Continue to Slide

As the gaudy sales figures from the pandemic continue to return to more realistic numbers, the main segments of the recreational boating industry saw new-model registrations of 4,421 in November, a 30.3% drop from 6,340 during the same time in 2021. .