Obituary: John R. Ulanowski, founder Scituate Yacht Co.

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John R. Ulanowski. Photo courtesy Boston Globe

John R. Ulanowski. Photo courtesy Boston Globe

John R. Ulanowski, a Boston-area industry leader who founded Scituate Yacht Co., died earlier this month. Ulanowski was 80, the Boston Globe reported.

Ulanowski was born in Boston on May 29, 1939. His father, John Ulanowski, was a machinist, and mother, Nellie Shereika, a homemaker. When the family moved to Marshfield when Ulanowski was 5, boats and boating became a shared passion between father and son.

“He could helm them, fix them, paint them,” noted the obituary. “But what he did best was sell them — hundreds of them, from 18-foot runabouts to powerboats for weekend fishermen all along the Eastern Seaboard to multimillion-dollar pleasure yachts for the super wealthy.”

In 1972, Ulanowski gave up a successful career selling office furniture after a visit to the Miami boat show. “I can do that,” he said.

For more than three decades, Ulanowski was among the most successful boat dealers in Boston. Around Scituate, where he lived for 52 years, he gained the nickname “Waterman.”

“At home, his wife, Hannah, ordered him to remove a business phone line he kept in their bedroom in case a wealthy overseas customer called at 3 a.m. Some did — until, as instructed, he disconnected the phone,” the paper stated.

Ulanowski attended Suffolk University, where he studied business administration, and graduated in 1961 from Burdett College in Boston with a business degree.

After being a top salesman for Peabody Office Furniture, he decided to combine his work experience in sales and marketing with his love of boats.

Ulanowski was uncanny at predicting boat style trends. In the mid-1970s, he believed that the rising price of fuel would bode well for trawlers.

“Southern California is where so many of these things start, and trawlers have been the big thing for years there,” he told the Globe at the time. “Not too long ago, the person who had a wherewithal to purchase a boat in the 30- to 50-foot range wanted to go fast and the hell with what it cost to run, but not anymore,” he told said in 1976 at a boat show in Quincy.

“When fuel that cost 30 cents suddenly becomes 60 cents and there is a prospect of it going to a dollar someday,” he added, “a boat that’s economical starts to make a lot of sense.”

He sold Scituate Yacht Co. in 2007 and began buying, restoring and selling British automobiles.

A funeral service will be held July 25 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scituate. Burial will be in Trinity Cemetery in Scituate.


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