Boat building is not the oldest profession in the world, but it has to be close. And for Grand-Craft Boats
, a builder and restorer of classic wooden boats, having an appreciation for “old” is very good for business.
“Retro new is very popular in our country now,” says Jeff Cavanagh, owner of the Holland-based company that recently opened a second production plant in Holland to build its new $279,000 Super Sport power boat being introduced at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show November 3.
The introduction of the Super Sport is the first all new boat model from Grand-Craft in four years. The company was started in Holland in 1979 as a builder of vintage-design mahogany powerboats based on past Chris-Craft boat designs.
Cavanagh purchased Grand-Craft in 2010 and moved the business to its main plant and headquarters at 1821 Ottawa Beach Road on Lake Macatawa. Due to the high demand in his boats and restoration services, Cavanagh recently purchased the 10,000-square-foot former Chris-Craft facility at 60 Chris-Craft Way for production of the company's new 25-foot Super Sport and other custom runabouts.
Cavanagh says he has been working in the industry for almost his entire career, and he has long been fascinated by classic wooden boats and has a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and design of wooden boats.
The company currently employs 12 people, and Cavanagh is looking to add two more people to his team, which he says is a great job, but is not for everyone. “Boat craftsmen are hard to find, he notes. He says an apprenticeship is typically one year and that he is aware of only one small school in the Upper Peninsula, Great Lakes Boat Building School,
that has a program specifically for shipwrights. He says all the boats are hand built and can take anywhere from seven to 18 months to build.
The custom boat builder practices the slow process of cold molding planks of mahogany to create boats that are durable and beautiful to look at. New boats from Grand Craft range in price from $120,000 to more than $1.5 million for a custom designed, one-of-a-kind boat.
To learn more about Grand-Craft, you can visit their website here.
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor