New owner will build Luhrs at Florida plant

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Luhrs Corp. announced that new investors plan to build 25- to 50-foot boats again at St. Augustine Marine, which is not to be confused with the plant at which Luhrs used to manufacture boats in St. Augustine, Fla.

That’s according to John Peterson, now president of Marlow-Hunter LLC, who told Soundings Trade Only that the Luhrs property in St. Augustine and the Silverton property in Millville, N.J., are still for sale under the Morgan Industries bankruptcy.

Luhrs sportfishing boats was recently acquired from the Marlow acquisition group by the Florida-based investing firm MB Marine Industries LLC, named for CEO Mario Benedetti.

Marlow Acquisitions LLC has its operating company, Marlow-Hunter LLC, concentrating on building and marketing Hunter sailboats and Mainship trawlers, Peterson told Trade Only.

“We have the first Mainship trawler being built here in Alachua now in time for the Miami show, and we continue to build Gemini catamarans on an OEM basis,” Peterson said in an email today.

“Fishing boats and the marketing to that segment of the boating arena, after careful analysis, was not part of our strategy at the moment, and thus we sold Luhrs to focus on the demographics of the sailing marketplace at this time, including trawlers, a natural extension of the sailing lifestyle,” Peterson said.

MB Marine Industries is committed to building Luhrs with “the highest quality, craftsmanship and seaworthiness,” stated a post on Luhrs’ website.

Roger Yarborough will manage the new line, which will be composed of original molds as well as some prototypes, according to the St. Augustine Record.

The boats will continue being called Luhrs.

“St. Augustine Marine had made major modifications to [Benedetti’s Luhrs] boat,” Yarborough told the paper. “He liked the boat and the company and wanted to bring it back to St. Augustine. He plans a major marketing campaign.”

Luhrs, which halted production in 2008, was once under the umbrella of the now defunct Luhrs Marine Group, which had its headquarters and main manufacturing plant at Millville, N.J., and consisted of Silverton Marine Corp., Mainship Corp., Luhrs Corp., Hunter Marine Corp. and five additional subsidiaries.

Contributing to the shortage of cash flow among the companies was “too much real estate,” Peterson told Soundings Trade Only in May. By the time the companies realized they needed to consolidate the operations of brands under fewer roofs, the real estate market was tanking.

In 2008, Mainship and Luhrs announced that they were closing the plant that employed 400, consolidating operations at the Luhrs Group’s Millville, N.J., facility.

The brands were sold, but the St. Augustine and Millville properties remain unsold.

The St. Augustine plant, despite its location on a river, continued to plummet in value, Peterson told Soundings Trade Only at the time. The bank had a lien on the property and the collateral appraisals were less than the loan amount.

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— Reagan Haynes


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