KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – George Buckley, chairman and CEO of Brunswick Corp., said yesterday that the company is considering building new boat plants in Tennessee, the Knoxville News reported in a story on its Web site today.
Brunswick, which has its Boat Group headquarters in Knoxville, may also locate a new distribution center for boat parts and accessories in the town as well, the newspaper reported.
Buckley told the News Brunswick has identified a suitable distribution center location in Knoxville, but wouldn’t reveal other details during a visit to the company's Sea Ray plants.
"We have found a place which would do the trick, but the guy in charge hasn't made up his mind," Buckley told the newspaper. "We're looking at one property we've got our eye on."
In addition, Buckley said there are brands of larger boats he might prefer building in the eastern U.S., rather than on the West Coast, to save on transportation costs.
"We have a couple of brands we are considering moving into this area, in particular big boats we're making on the West Coast," he told the News. "We really need them available on the East Coast, and transportation is very expensive."
Buckley said it would be several months before a decision is made. He was in town to present awards to the Sea Ray plants at Knoxville and Tellico, Tenn., both of which have gone more than 2.5 million hours without an accident that required a worker to lose time on the job.
Brunswick Corp. has been expanding in recent years by buying smaller boat companies, and Buckley told the newspaper that is likely to continue, for at least the immediate future.
"I think there is a point where that ends, where you have enough types and models and boats where you don't need to do that, where you grow organically rather than through acquisitions," he said. "I don't think it's a forever answer. We had some big goals we wanted to fill. We have been very successful."
Brunswick officials told the newspaper that there are only a few areas left missing in its quest to fill the "white space" of gaps missing in the brands of boats they offer, including: midsized sport fishing boats, pontoon boats and motor yachts.
"The future of our company will remain a multiple-segment company," Buckley said. "I don't see that changing. I see much more likely that we will add something or subtract something. Probably after this year, I would think we will turn our attention to going international in a way we've gone in the United States to be able to supply a great range of products from small to large, from freshwater to saltwater, from cruising to fishing, to have dealers at our side who have become not just secure but prosperous off the products we sell, and to have a global presence."
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