Benton boat maker to shut down plant

BENTON — A recreational boat maker announced Friday it is closing its manufacturing facility in Benton.

Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc. is exiting the sport boat business within the next few months. Company officials said declining sales of such watercraft and in the marine industry in general necessitated the change.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision for BRP,” company President and CEO José Boisjoli said in a statement released Friday. “We worked hard to grow our sport boat business through a serious sales decline that began in 2007. But now, we must focus our research and development resources and capital investments in areas of our business that offer greater growth potential.”

BRP will not resume production on the upcoming model year of sport watercraft. Boisjoli said the company attempted to sell the sport boat branch to no avail. BRP opened its roughly 400,000 square-foot assembly facility in Benton in 1995. The company began manufacturing boats in 1994.

A company statement did not indicate how many employees would be affected but said all impacted workers would “receive a good transition package.”

BRP employs more than 6,000 employees globally, with facilities in countries like the U.S., Mexico and Finland. Its corporate headquarters is in Valcourt, Quebec in Canada.

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