Boat builders optimistic despite millions in damages

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida boat manufacturers Correct Craft, Regal Marine and Boston Whaler Inc. have suffered a combined total of approximately $6 million in hurricane damage this season, but are still optimistic about having a strong sales year, according to a story on the Orlando Business Journal’s Web site today.

The companies said their monetary losses were due to structural damage to facilities, lost production time and emergency employee assistance programs, but they believe they will be able to bounce back quickly.

Duane Kuck, president and CEO of Regal Marine Industries Inc., told the Business Journal he is seeing “some surprisingly strong activity” at the dealership level.

“Some customers with damaged boats are going to look at this as a good time to upgrade their boats,” Kuck said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that it still will be a good year.”

Regal Marine’s 300,000-square-foot Orlando facilities took a “direct hit” from Charley, causing quite a bit of damage to the roofs and doors, but very little to the products, Kuck told the newspaper.

Losses at Boston Whaler’s 250,000-square-foot plant are “approaching” $3 million, according to company President Mike Myers. The damage includes eight roll-down doors that were blown in and extensive roof damage that in turn allowed some water damage.

Correct Craft’s Gary Meloon, vice president of marketing and special effects, estimates the damage to his company, both in terms of physical damage to the facilities and the four days in lost production time, at about $1.4 million, the Business Journal reported.

Apart from the fact none of Correct Craft’s 310 employees were hurt in either hurricane, Meloon counts as “a blessing” there was no damage to the products or the boat molds.

All of the companies have extensive employee assistance programs in place, according to the newspaper, and despite all the destruction, things could have been much worse.

“We’ve all sustained some damage, but we haven’t lost any lives,” Myers said. “From that perspective, we’ve been really fortunate.”

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