Boston Whaler hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday to commemorate the start of a major expansion project at its Edgewater, Fla., facility, after its acquisition of about 60 acres along the facility's northern border last year.
Notable attendees included officials from Edgewater, Volusia County and the state of Florida, executives from MarineMax and several major businesses and publications.
The event began with a welcome reception and opening remarks from Boston Whaler president Nick Stickler, Volusia County Council vice chairwoman Deb Denys, Edgewater Mayor Mike Ignasiak and Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce membership chairwoman Donna Snow.
"Today marks the beginning of a new phase in Boston Whaler's trajectory," said Stickler in a statement. "We look forward to the tremendous opportunities for growth in terms of manufacturing, job creation and product innovation that this expansion will afford us."
After the opening presentations, guests were treated to a guided tour of Whaler's facility,
After the tour, the group was taken by bus to a northern section of the new acreage for the groundbreaking ceremony, which kicked off in dramatic fashion: A 30,000-pound front-loader was driven onto the hull of a 210 Dauntless, re-enacting a famous stunt to demonstrate the strength of Whaler's construction.
Lastly, a team of representatives with shovels lifted the symbolic first batch of soil, which drew cheers from the crowd.
Whaler first announced the land acquisition last July. It came after months of meetings with the city and community leaders, including the owners and residents of the community just north of the new acreage, Hacienda Del Rio.
Last June 5, Edgewater’s city council approved annexing the current Whaler site. The site plan joined Whaler's current 45 acres with the newly added land and rezoned the entire area as a mixed-use planned unit development.
"The final design of the new site fits the community, the city of Edgewater and Boston Whaler's expansion strategy," Rebecca Crews, vice president of operations, said in July. "In addition to an outstanding site plan, Boston Whaler has partnered with the city in the development of the land."
Boston Whaler has since continued planning efforts for the new acreage, documenting and subdividing the land into four lots, including the current manufacturing and business operations facilities. Build-out on the first lot is slated for completion by 2020, with plans for the remaining areas still under review.
"I want to say thank you again to all our partners out there, our dealers, our community, for helping to make this a reality. You've been an enormous part of our success and the reason that we're here today," Stickler said. "We're excited to celebrate this large expansion, and we look forward to working together for the next 60 years to come."