Skip to main content

Marine industry is vital cog in Wisconsin economy

Marine manufacturing is a $6 billion industry in Wisconsin.

It might sound unlikely, but among companies such as Marinette Marine, Bay Shipbuilding and Mercury Marine, the industry employs 3,200 people statewide.

“It’s an industry that’s grown up locally and by and large remained local with the more significant aspect of construction,” labor economist Jeffrey Sachse told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Most of that money stays fairly local.”

Wages range from $12.50 an hour for entry-level and laborer positions to more than $23 an hour for a range of skilled jobs. Sachse said marine manufacturing jobs average between $46,000 and $58,000 annually.

“If you are a first-class welder, you could make $70,000 to $80,000. If you are a finish welder at Marinette Marine, you can make closer to $90,000,” he said.

To a large degree, the region’s boatbuilders do not compete with one another. They share ownership — such as Marinette Marine, Bay Shipbuilding and Ace Marine in Green Bay, all owned by Fincantieri Group — or they are in different markets. There is some overlap, but even that is mitigated by contraction in the industry worldwide.

“It’s really been an industry, as is the case with a lot of manufacturing sectors in the state, where they benefited from attrition elsewhere,” Sachse said. “It’s down to two or three companies nationally that do what they do. We can meet a lot of market needs with two or three producers, and we have them.”

Employment in the marine industry traditionally is subject to the ability to get long-term orders and contracts. Seasonal layoffs were not uncommon, but that’s an expensive way to do business. The companies have had some success in evening out the dips.

Marinette Marine, with its long-term contracts for Navy Littoral Combat Ships, is not affected, but others work to fill those lax periods.

“We do some commercial stuff, too,” said Curt Prokash at yacht builder Burger Boat in Manitowoc. “We just finished a research vessel and we are working on our second tour boat. We do some repair stuff, as well. You want to keep the people working.”

Prokash said a luxury yacht can provide a year and a half to two years work, so they prefer those orders when they’re available.



Northpoint Expands Marine Presence

Northpoint Commercial Finance has partnered with Elite Recreational Finance to offer retail financing.


BRP Reports 71% Increase in Q3 Revenues

The Sea-Doo manufacturer had total revenue of $2.7 billion, but North American marine retail sales were down 47%.


Airmar Announces Training Dates

Certified Installer and SmartBoat system classes are being held this month in New Jersey and next year in New Hampshire.


The Survey Says …

Surveying customers to find out what they think about your business has never been more important.


Marine Development Inc. Changes Hands

Mick Webber, the former president/CEO and owner of HydroHoist, has purchased the company from its founders.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 10.06.58 AM

Yanmar Reports Record First Half

Supported by overseas growth in construction equipment, generators and components, the company announced net sales of approximately $3.5 billion.


FWC Accepting Vessel Turn-In Applications

The program disposes of unwanted, at-risk vessels before they become derelict at no cost to owners.


Walstrom Acquires Grand Bay Marine

The transaction expands the company’s footprint in the Great Lakes region and brings the Regal, Starcraft, Godfrey, Bayliner, Robalo and Berkshire brands to Walstrom’s portfolio.


Indmar Co-Founder Dies at 95

A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Dick Rowe dedicated himself to the recreational boating industry for more than four decades.