Boat Manufacturing Picking Up In US

Moves by two major boat builders to recall laid-off staff and ramp up production signal positive changes in the US marine industry.

Meridian Yachts has begin recalling employees at its Palm Coast, FL production facility in response to low dealer inventory levels. The company, which moved from Arlington, WA to Palm Coast about a year ago, had reduced production in line with parent company Brunswick's strategy to trim its inventory pipeline in order to support dealer health. “We have been committed to helping our dealers reduce their inventory over the last year, and to helping them establish sustainable business models going forward said Rob Parmentier, president of Sea Ray Group, which includes Meridian Yachts. “We're now getting to a point with Meridian where we need to increase production to meet anticipated demand even in a flat market, and work with our dealers to ensure they have what product they need.”

The Palm Coast facility currently employs 265 people building Meridian Yachts from 40 to 47 feet, and Sea Ray Sport Yachts from 39 to 50 feet. Employment dropped by more than 40 percent over the last 12 months, but Brunswick notes the majority of displaced workers have since been contacted and plans to hire additional new employees in the coming months are moving forward.

MasterCraft Boats is also recalling staff in order to meet increased production commitments. The company announced earlier this week that it was in the process of recalling about 100 employees in order to ramp up production of its 2010 product. The Vonore, TN-based towboat manufacturer already recalled approximately 170 staff earlier this year.

MasterCraft President and CEO, John Dorton was quoted as saying that the company is encouraged by an opportunity to increase production rates. “The increase in production is reflective purely of domestic and international dealer demand,” said Dorton. “The marine industry is still dealing with very trying times … because we cater so well to the passionate, discerning buyer, we seem to be doing fairly well. In fact, we have continually expanded our market share over the last 18 months.”