Brunswick’s Meridian Yachts prepares to ramp up

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Previously laid-off employees at Brunswick’s Palm Coast production facility were recalled recently, as the company prepares to ramp up production of Meridian Yachts in response to historically low inventory levels at dealers, the company reported in a recent statement.

Production of Meridian Yachts was moved from Arlington, Wash., to Palm Coast, Fla, about a year ago. The move was made in line with Brunswick’s strategy to have its boat production plants produce multiple brands and models, rather than the previous approach of dedicating certain plants to specific brands or models, the company explained. Brunswick stated that the Palm Coast facility offered a number of advantages over the previous location, including an improved layout and workflow, direct water access for testing and delivery as well as improved logistics for global distribution.

As part of Brunswick’s efforts to reduce the marine supply pipeline, Meridian’s wholesale shipments and production were reduced by an even greater percentage than the drop in retail activity at dealerships, according to the company. The result of this strategy has been a sizable reduction in dealer inventory over the last 12 months, it said.

“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 as production declined; however, the overwhelming majority of displaced workers have since been contacted and offered positions at the plant, according to Brunswick. There are also plans to hire additional new employees in the coming months.

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