building boats for a living???

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by dkopchak, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. dkopchak
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    Location: wayx

    dkopchak New Member

    Hello everyone!

    I am a lover of water, the outdoors, and boats... I have the opportunity to leave the corp world and pursue a dream of mine -- building boats. I have been in manufacturing for over 18 years -- from engineering to production supervision to operations management. I put myself through college working at a full service marina/dealership/boat repair company. Done everything from grinding glass/replacing stringers to rigging electronics.

    Why I am here, is to see if there is anyone out there that could spare a few minutes of their time to chat with me about there business and/or experience.

    Any input or insight would be greatly appreciated -- not looking for any "shortcuts" -- just a little boat building wisdom!

    Danny
     
  2. Robert Gainer
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Robert Gainer Designer/Builder

    It’s a tough business and very few people make money building boats. If you enjoy boating go into some other business and use the money you make to buy a good boat and enjoy yourself.

    Now having said that, I was in the marine business for over thirty years and it’s just like any other business. You need a good and realistic business plan with a bullet proof marketing plan. You also need adequate capital and a source of funds when it doesn’t go according to the plan.
    Good luck and all the best,
    Robert Gainer
     
  3. Crag Cay
    Joined: May 2006
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    I know you have been in business so you will probably know this, but there is one overiding thing to remember if you want to make a living from building boats: You must sell them for more than they cost to build.

    And basically, that is all there is to it. But but that one small thing completely slipped the mind of so many boatbuilding companies here in the UK. Now all those famous name are gone.

    Actually, the problem is not poor memory, it's that controlling the labour component in boatbuilding is really hard. It's so easy to spend too much time on a build. This will either price the boat out of the market or alternatively, you will only get a pittance for every hour you put in. Finding a profitable, predictable niche is hard. But not impossible.
     
  4. rayk
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    Location: Queenstown, NewZealand.

    rayk Senior Member

    Build on spec to start with, and I am guessing you might want to employ/partner with a sales/marketing guy to compliment your yard savvy.
     
  5. FAST FRED
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Pick up a local boating rag , here in FL its Florida Marriner , on the US Right Coast its Soundings , or for boat builders its PBB (pro boat builder).

    They are filled with desperate cries for skilled workers.
    Hundreds are needed, Where will You get Your staff?



    FAST FRED
     
  6. dkopchak
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    Location: wayx

    dkopchak New Member

    So what I am hearing is that building boats is no different than manufacturing anything else! In this industry, along with all others, you can't find the right people, you have to do with what you have, you have to watch your raw material costs and inventory levels, and most importantly watch your labor hours to ensure you are on standard and wsting too much time!!!!

    NO PROBLEM!! Sign me up! :)

    If I am to set up shop in Florida -- does anyone have any recommendations as to where I could see the greatest assistance from Economic Development Programs? What is to be expected for cost for a 4-6000 sq. ft. building lease?
     
  7. longliner45
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    longliner45 Senior Member

    what kind of boats are you going to make?...longliner
     
  8. dkopchak
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    dkopchak New Member

    These!
     

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  9. jonsailor
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    Location: AUSTRALIA

    jonsailor Boat designer/builder

    reep the benifits

    "how to make a small fortune in boat building"......
    "Start with a very large one"

    No seriously, I have been doing it for 30 years, I will never own a gold roller, but it is an in-built passion that keeps it all going
     
  10. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    You might try the state Chamber of Commerce office in Tallahassee for advise on which counties are offering the best deals. The local CoC can be reached at 1 Riberia St., St. Augustine, FL, 32084, tel: (904) 824-8142. Here in St. John's county (St. Augustine, just south of Jacksonville) we have too many housing developments and not enough businesses, so there is concern that we need to get more manufacturing businesses located here to balance out the tax rolls. There seems to be a fair bit of commercial space to set up shop. Workers are scarce, however, since all of the house building trades are gobbling them up. Immigrant house framers are getting $22/hr., and marine finish carpenters are getting only about $18/hr. Go figure. You need to pay a high wage and provide good benefits.

    Quality of life in St. Augustine is about the best in the state, and access to the ICW, the ocean, and the St. John's river is easy. Real estate prices are up considerably from when we moved here three years ago, but right now sales are flat--it is turning into a buyer's market because houses are sitting too long.

    Good luck on your searches.

    Eric
     
  11. catmando2
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Location: Australia

    catmando2 Malaysia bound....soon

    Workers are scarce, however, since all of the house building trades are gobbling them up. Immigrant house framers are getting $22/hr., and marine finish carpenters are getting only about $18/hr. Eric[/QUOTE]

    Same deal in Australia, Eric.
    So much so that I've given boatbuilding for the man away and am doing one for myself now.

    Lucky that my wife earns enough to keep the bills paid, and a bit extra so I can play property developer as well. More money than boatbuilding.

    Dave
     
  12. seaclusion
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Florida

    seaclusion New Member

    Having been in the boatbuilding industry since 1981 I don't want to disappoint you, but you are travelling an up-hill battle all the way.

    First, the mega production companies have their prices and costs so well controlled that you will never compete with them on price. Don't try unless you have over $5 million to invest and probably lose. You must produce something they are not or is not feasible for them to produce in small quantities. Then you have to market and sell a pure luxury item to a fickle market in a slowing economy.

    Second, most localities consider boatbuilding heavy industry. There is relatively little space devoted to this in Fla since heavy industry and boatbuilding in particular are noisy, dirty, smelly operations that invite the scrutiny of the EPA, FWC, DEP and a host of other three letter acronyms that no one wants nosing around.

    Third, as has been mentioned before, labor is a problem everywhere. Qualified boatbuilders (fiberglass workers) are in short supply and production quality and schedule will always be an ongoing problem.

    Lastly, boatbuilding is the most rewarding endeavor you can have if you love it. There is a tremendous satisfaction in producing watercraft whatever they may be. Since it is difficult to make money in this field, you really have to love it for it's own intrinsic value and if you just make a living consider yourself lucky.

    Good luck in whatever you do.

    Richard
     
  13. Scott Carter
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Annapolis

    Scott Carter Senior Member

    Hi Danny -
    Are you set to work in the States? I know it's a huge departure if you are, but there is a great deal of trainable labor available here in SE Asia. The problem you'll run in to, though not over-comeable, is in maintaining quality standards at a bare minimum what you'd expect from a skilled worker in the States or Eurpoe or Australia/NZ. That having been said, container ships go cheap compared to the cost of a boat and your choice of exotic, beach front locations is huge here. The market will not be here, though. There are several glass boat building companies just in the area of Thailand I'm in, but none that ship overseas as a regular part of their production.
    That's news from over here.
    Scott
     
  14. Thomasw
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    Location: Medford, Oregon

    Thomasw Junior Member

    Danny,

    Don't be discouraged from the feedback you are getting. I think a person can move a mountain if enough energy is put into the task. Most big production companies are producing garbage! I looked at new production boat the other day and to my dismay observed an unusual feature, the windows were held to the boat by caulking, a poor caulking job at that. A friend took his new boat offshore tuna fishing, came off a swell and almost lost his windshield, the hull flexed that much! I would say go for it!

    Thomas
     

  15. FAST FRED
    Joined: Oct 2002
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    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Most big production companies are producing garbage!

    Very true , but they make commodity boats to a low price for new uninformed boaters.

    To see a Quality boat , take a look at a sport fish (usually more experienced owners) from a quality builder.

    Costs 3 or 4 times as much , but the difference IS there.

    Its really hard to start at the bottom competing with cheap junk builders , and as hard to build a quality reputation in only a few years .

    FAST FRED
     
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