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the end of an era for Ocean Yachts

Discussion in 'Ocean Yacht' started by Trinimax, Dec 2, 2015.

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  1. Trinimax

    Trinimax Member

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    I saw this article online, it looks like Ocean Yachts is closing its doors for good. Its sad to see this company go. They built some good boats, which got alot of people into boating for an affordable price. the company was great in how they continued to provide factory support even on the older models no longer in production

    MULLICA TOWNSHIP — Tucked away on 80 acres off Green Bank Road near the Mullica River, the Ocean Yachts boatyard has provided work to as many as 200 people in the 1980s and 1990s, and as few as a dozen today.

    But now the facility, which has the ability to run three production lines in sprawling buildings in the Pinelands, could be gearing up for active boat-building again.

    Viking Yachts in Bass River Township has signed a letter of intent to buy the land and structures. It would build some of its smaller yachts there, Viking spokesman Peter Frederiksen said.

    “We are kind of at full capacity here. We wanted to spread out a little bit,” said Frederiksen. “We would build Vikings there. We are not buying the product line, just the land.”

    While the sale would mean the Ocean Yachts name would end, boats would be built again on a significant scale in Atlantic County, said co-owner John Leek IV, the 14th generation boatbuilder in his family.

    It could mean as many as 200 new jobs at the Mullica facility, said Leek, 35.

    Both Leek and Frederiksen stressed that the deal isn’t final yet. The two families that own the companies have been friendly and have run the Viking Ocean Showdown fishing tournament in Cape May for 26 years.

    The recession hit Ocean Yachts hard, and the company has averaged construction of just two to three boats per year for the past several years, Leek said.

    It’s a trend that has played out across the nation and state, with many manufacturers going out of business in the 2000s, Frederiksen said.

    About 300 companies nationwide were building boats in the 40-foot to 75-foot range about 15 years ago, and now there are only about 100, he said.

    “Viking is the largest manufacturer of that type of boat,” Frederiksen said of the 51-year-old company still owned by the Healey family. It was started by brothers William and Robert Healey on April 1, 1964, he said.

    In the 1980s, 13 or 14 companies were building such yachts in New Jersey, and now Viking is one of the last left, he said.

    Boats are still being built in the Egg Harbor Yachts building on Philadelphia Avenue in Egg Harbor City, but on a smaller scale than in the past, said owner Ira Trocki. In 1999, he purchased the company, started in 1946 by a group of men, including one of Leek’s ancestors.

    Trocki now owns the Egg Harbor Group, which calls itself a “group of premium yacht companies including Buddy Davis, Silverton, Ovation, Predator, Topaz and Egg Harbor.”

    “Egg Harbor Yachts used to have 200 employees,” Trocki said. “This area of South Jersey used to be a mecca for building yachts and sports fishing boats.”

    He declined to say how many people work at the Egg Harbor City facility now, but said about 10 boats are now under construction and the company is hiring experienced fiberglass patchers.

    An influx of foreign-made boats has hurt U.S. boat builders, Trocki said. Many companies are subsidized by their governments and don’t have to pay the high tariffs U.S. companies must pay to sell boats internationally, he said.

    “It’s a shame to see an era has ended,” Trocki said of Ocean Yachts being sold. “It’s a wonderful family and a wonderful name.”

    For the past several years, Ocean Yachts has mainly focused on reconditioning yachts and servicing them, Leek said. The company’s likely final project will be renovating a 55-foot yacht built by Ocean in 1982.

    “This one came back to be restored,” Leek said last week, as he stood in front of the boat built in the early days of the company. “In a lot of ways, we came full circle with this boat.”

    The 55-footer was a very successful model for Ocean. It was the company’s premium model and was in production for 10 years, Leek said.

    Its price tag in 1982 was about $350,000, but it would cost about $2.5 million if built today, he said.

    If the Viking deal goes through, Leek will take a job there, and after completing training, will be back working at the Mullica Township facility. His family home is nearby.

    The Leeks have been boat-building on the Mullica River since the early 1700s. Early generations were artisans working on a small scale.

    “My grandfather’s grandfather was the founding father of modern boat-building in our family,” Leek said of Charles Pratt “C.P.” Leak, who built boats in Lower Bank, Burlington County.

    C.P.’s grandson — John IV’s grandfather — John Leek Jr. and his brother Donald started Pacemaker Yachts and built it into a success, then sold it to Fuqua Industries of North Carolina, Leek said.

    Then his grandfather opened Ocean Yachts in 1977 with some partners, Leek said. Ocean Yachts has been more of a value-oriented builder, while Viking has created a niche for itself at the high end.

    “We had banner years in the 1980s, with more than 150 boats a year; we had another banner year in the late ’90s, with more than 100,” said Leek. “Those times were really good for all the boat builders.”

    But the value segment of the economy hasn’t recovered as well as the high end, he said. Viking is doing well in current economic conditions.

    “They have done an excellent job of becoming the No. 1 player in their type of boat,” Leek said. “They have earned their market share.”

    Viking built 65 boats last year, ranging from 42 feet to 92 feet. The price range is $1 million to $11 million, said Frederiksen.

    The 52-acre manufacturing site in the New Gretna section of Bass River Township employs about 1,000 people. It includes four buildings and four production lines. In addition, Viking has two service and renovation facilities in Florida.

    “About 70 percent of our boats, when they leave here, wind up going past that point (Florida), said Frederiksen. “Boats go in there for service on the way South or North. We also do major renovations, engine installations and interior construction work. It’s a lot like a house.”

    Here is the direct link and the add for the molds.

    http://m.pressofatlanticcity.com/bus....html?mode=jqm

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boa...ale-54581.html
  2. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    While this is by no means a surprise - frankly it's surprising they held on this long. It's sad to see another major recreational boat builder bite the dust.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yeah, but you have to blame Ocean. They held the candle on the fastest production SF line till about 2000 when they failed to update and come out with newer/faster models and just kept falling behind ever since then.
  4. Trinimax

    Trinimax Member

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    Very true they were a bit late to join the 40 knot crowd. In the early 2000's most of the 40 foot plus oceans would cruise in the upper 20's and top low to mid 30's with only the most recent 58 ss cruising in the mid 30's and topping just under 40. I guess the market demands higher speeds and more features these days. I know there level of finish was not the best, and some could say that led to their demise, but then again cabo was a quality product, and they got the axe as well.
  5. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Cabo didn't have a profit or sales issue, they had a build efficiency issue once they were moved to New Bern. It literally took 50% more Man hours to build the same boat, thus making a once profitable builder un-profitable.
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Do you have any idea how the selling price of the Hatteras Express compares with the selling price of the Cabo it replaced? I suspect significantly more but don't know. I know the Express Model without the bridge is in the $1.5 million range. I'm thinking to some degree it was the Meridian/Bayliner deal of changing nameplate to raise the price.
  7. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Private family businesses operate differently.
    Some (very few) like the Healy's who are bound and determined to be the best.
    Sime like the Leek's who built to a price point, had no interest in going further, and have called it a day after making a great living building boats.
    Pacemaker/Egg Harbor/Ocean Yachts - thanks for the memories!
  8. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Hatteras EX comes in at $1.8-$2million, the last Cabo 44's were $1.1-1.15 million new.
  9. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    One last thing about "blame". You have to understand that they drew a line, they would not cross it. They did not want to get into the Viking / Hatteras arena, they were not driven in any way shape or form to play on that level. So they have chosen to call it a day, which is their prerogative.
  10. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yeah, but Ocean put themselves on the map by having the fastest production SF's. That's what they were know for.....flexible flyers......In the 80's, every boat they built would go over 30 knots, their cruise speed was always 5 knots above Hatt, Bertram, Viking of the time and most cruised at 30 knots.....they didn't even try to get their speed up as time went on and everyone else cruised at the same speed as them.

    A friend of mine ran a 1991 or 1993 53' Ocean SF that they crammed big 10 cylinder MAN's in and it cruised at 37 knots and topped out at 44 knots.
  11. Yachtguymke

    Yachtguymke Senior Member

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    It really boils down to a Father that had no interest in producing boats and a son that had a vision for what Ocean could be going forward. This really is no surprise and was just a matter of time. The Makaira 64 was the latest venture but really went nowhere. Sad...
  12. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Typical family business stuff. Dad is the boss (and don't forget about Mom), sons follow his lead. The new Makaira represented a product on the other side of the line that he would not cross. Too different from a successful business model that got him to this point. At least they got value for the property, sort of a retirement payment.

    Hopefully, Junior will be able to put a viable business plan together and attract some capital to give it a go. He certainly has the lineage to make a run at it.
  13. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Often in a family business it's the son or daughter working to fulfill the dream of the parent and it's not their dream. Their dream may be very different. I don't know if any of you watch the tv show "The Profit." Marcus Lemonis has run into several family run businesses and had to deal with those issues. Often a parent who won't even listen to the son or daughter. Other times a son or daughter who thinks they already know far more than they do. Sometimes a son or daughter who has no interest in even being there.
  14. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    100% agree.
    Seen a few of my successful clients and friends almost force their offspring into either their business or profession, usually with a bad or sad result. Even when "successful", there is little harmony. You cannot duplicate your life for your children.
    The Chinese have a saying:
    First Generation makes the success.
    Second generation builds on this.
    Third generation loses it.
  15. Liberty

    Liberty Senior Member

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    Jees I hope not. I'm third.

    :)
  16. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    Ah, but you love what you do...not to mention you have grown your business to extraordinary levels.
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Our chief engineer is 39 years old and it was just this year that his father finally became convinced he was not going to move back to Rhode Island and not going to follow him in his business. The fact he went to engineering in Indy Car racing after getting his engineering degree and then shortly after (16 years ago) moved to FL and has been engineering on boats since then just didn't sink in.

    Meeting his friends here and his fiancee and seeing how happy he was with his life here finally hit home. Until then he thought that his son just couldn't be happy doing this. The good thing is that then his father decided no reason to hold on any longer and time to retire.
  18. Gray-Sea

    Gray-Sea Member

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    I agree that it was to be expected, but it still saddened me greatly when I first heard the news.

    Whatever the reasons, Viking's near monopoly now grows...and I don't known whether that's a good thing.
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Considering the hands Viking is in, I call it a good thing. It allows them to continue to run a very profitable and successful business. Now, I wouldn't call it a monopoly. In fact, their percentage of the market is still small once you count Hatteras and then include all the other sportfish builders who line the east coast.
  20. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Not sure where monopoly comes to meaning.

    A marine manufacture has survived another bad building season. Other companies did not.
    A marine manufacture has plans to expand, build more, employ more people, inject more money into a local economy (salarys and taxes). Other companies can not.

    You don't known whether that's a good thing.

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