Hinckley investor gains ownership stake

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The Hinckley Company announced that Scout Partners has made a sizable "growth-capital investment" in the company and now will have a "substantial ownership stake" in the Maine-based builder, whose corporate offices are in Rhode Island.

"This is unbelievably exciting and good for Hinckley," Hinckley CEO James McManus told Soundings Trade Only.

"It really secures all the things that have made Hinckley so special over the last 83 years in terms of introducing and building the finest boats in the world and servicing the finest boats in the world," he added. "In terms of new products introductions for both jet boats and sailboats, the growth of our service franchise, strategic, geographic expansion - all of these things are really what are enabled by this investment."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and McManus would only say the investment was "substantial."

McManus said that 2010 was a strong year for Hinckley and this investment will keep the company moving forward.

"2010 was an unbelievably strong year for Hinckley in terms of rebound. We had very strong new boat sales that were led by two new products. One was the T48 that we just introduced in the fall - we've already sold three T48s - and then the new Picnic Boat, which was actually introduced in 2008, was very, very strong, with boat sales well into double digits in 2010," he said.

"Our fourth quarter was incredibly strong," McManus added. "We're very much on a growth trajectory, and this investment allows us to really propel that growth even more quickly."

Privately held Hinckley builds sailboats and powerboats. The company has production facilities in Trenton and Southwest Harbor, Maine, and operates eight service yards along the U.S. East Coast.

Hinckley has about 1,500 boat owners and 5,000 service customers worldwide, the company said.

Scout Partners is a partnership between David Howe and Peterson Capital LLC, and it was created specifically to work closely with U.S.-based companies that have shown significant potential for long-term success. Peterson Capital was founded by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Peter G. Peterson, according to Hinckley's statement.

"We love the Hinckley brand and plan to nurture it to preserve all that is Hinckley," Howe said in a statement. "We're very excited about the future potential of the company, including the boatbuilding and service businesses."

McManus said the new owners share a passion for the company.

"Both David and Pete not only are making a financial commitment, but they're very much emotionally invested in the Hinckley brand. David has been a lifelong sailor," he said. "Pete Peterson is really an American business icon who has an unbelievably deep commitment to U.S. businesses."

"It's great to have owners that share the same passion that we do for our brand," he added.

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— Beth Rosenberg