MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - After more than 50 years in Miami, Bertram Yacht is relocating to Merritt Island, Fla., where it plans to build more and better boats in larger buildings and on a bigger piece of land on a navigable waterway, Alton Herndon, president of the legendary builder, said Wednesday during a press event at the company's new home.
"Over four years ago the decision was made to relocate Bertram," Herndon told a gathering of about 150 media members, including this reporter, and Bertram employees. "A little over two years ago we got serious about relocating. We've outgrown the facility in Miami with the size of [yachts] we are building."
Bertram looked at more than 30 plant sites from North Miami to Virginia Beach, Va., Herndon said.
"At the same time we were looking, we cleaned up and reorganized the Miami facility, changed realtors and sold the facility,” he said. “We were looking for properties that were on navigable water and that preferably had large, tall buildings. We wanted property that had at least 30 to 40 acres to expand. And it goes without saying we were looking for a community to hire good employees. Thirty-five sites later and, ba-boom, here we are, Merritt Island, Fla."
Herndon said Bertram's new 37-acre home satisfies all of these requirements, and it's only 45 miles from the Orlando airport.
"In addition, Florida is the homeland of Bertram, so we were able to stay in Florida," Herndon said during the 30-minute presentation that also saw several government officials speak, as well as Ferretti Group chairman and founder Norberto Ferretti. Ferretti owns Bertram.
Bertram has already begun a move that officially starts this summer. The molds for the Bertram 80 are on-site.
The builder expects to begin working on the first boat in late September and to complete the move in October and November, Herndon said.
A Bertram 64 already begun in Miami will be relocated on its own bottom to Merritt Island for completion, vice president of manufacturing Ken Beauregard said. The first yacht built entirely at the Merritt Island site will be a 54, he said.
The company will try to relocate as many of its roughly 125 employees as possible and hopes to expand its work force to about 220 in the next few years, Herndon told me in an interview.
Bertram has agreed to a 7-year lease and option to buy with the site's owner, Vectorworks Marine, which purchased it from Sea Ray, said James Henderson, Ferretti Group chief marketing officer, North America.
"Vectorworks is going to provide us with infusion parts, so we are going to subcontract a segment of our parts production to Vectorworks," Henderson said. "So it is a nice relationship in terms of the operating structure."
Look for a story on the relocation in the June issue of Trade Only.
— Chris Landry