Everglades Boats is turning the tough retail boating market into an opportunity to expand into new territory with the formation of a commercial and government division.
"What's happening in the marine retail business has allowed us to open new doors and diversify our product line," marketing director David Glenn told Soundings Trade Only this morning.
He said building military boat models is something CEO and co-founder Bob Dougherty has wanted to do for some time now, but the retail demand for Everglades' offshore and inshore boats monopolized the company's time and production space.
"We haven't had the room or the time to devote to that category," said Glenn.
In the past year, Everglades Boats has felt the affects of the economic downturn as much as other boatbuilders. As retail demand for recreational boats came to a virtual halt, the company cuts its work force from 250 before December to 50 employees now.
Everglades also extended its annual two-week shutdown last December to four weeks, and more recently announced plans to delay model-year introductions to help dealers clear existing inventory.
The new division will be housed at Everglades' Edgewater, Fla., plant, which includes a fabrication/metal shop, an engineering team and production staff. Some areas of the shop will have to be retooled, such as small parts and custom builds, to accommodate the special features of a military craft. These include different storage areas, different supports for gun mounts and stronger towing capacity.
Workers are already building the prototype for the first military-style boat to come from Everglades - a new 35 Pilot House - that the company will display at next month's Multi-Agency Craft Conference in Norfolk, Va.
"The MACC brings all government maritime agencies in one place. It's the largest military boat show for boats 60 feet and down," Mike Collins, the industry veteran appointed director of Everglades' new division, told Soundings Trade Only.
He said the MACC is the first of many trade shows geared toward government agencies that Everglades plans to attend.
- Melanie Winters