Brunswick group president talks about plant shutdown

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Brunswick Boat Group president Andy Graves says the company has not made a decision to sell the Florida plant that is ceasing operation by summertime.

“For us, those are difficult decisions, but necessary ones,” Graves told Trade Only Today on Tuesday. “The size range, 40 to 65 feet, those markets have been significantly impacted post-recession. They did not recover last year. It’s our belief that we’re kicking along the bottom and that we’ll experience a steady recovery.”

Brunswick stopped production at the plant now because the company can support the new model launches of yachts without it and is able to produce Sea Ray cruisers, sport yachts and yachts at a rate 2.5 times current market demand, Graves told Trade Only.

“As we project out over the next three or four years, we think if we have the ability to triple production in our single facility, that’s enough to meet a large number of the potential scenarios in terms of demand,” Graves added. “If the markets rebounded beyond that, we have capital investments. Based on our current views of the marketplace, we think our capacity, particularly in our fiberglass lineup, is appropriate for the way the market’s evolving.”

Brunswick announced Monday that it would suspend yacht production at its Sykes Creek facility in Merritt Island, Fla., and consolidate production at its Palm Coast, Fla., plant. Production will end in June at Sykes Creek, where about 205 people build Sea Ray and Meridian models from 51 to 61 feet.

The laborers at Sykes Creek will have opportunities to work at the Palm Coast plant, Graves said.

“We have available opportunities for our hourly and salary employees at Palm Coast, as well as at other Boat Group sites, most notably at Boston Whaler which is near Sykes Creek," he said. "We hope to employ a large number of the affected employees at these other locations, provided they are able to manage the new commute. Unfortunately, there will be a reduction in employment across both our Sykes Creek salary and hourly employee base as a result of the plant closure."

— Reagan Haynes