Flagler County boat builder riding wave of sales – Daytona Beach News

“Definitely we’re hiring,” said Craig Wall, operations manager at the Flagler County plant.

Wall said while production at the manufacturing facility has not increased in terms of the number of boats being built, the size of boats under construction has grown.

“We’re building larger boats, yacht class,” he said. “There’s no doubt the demand is there. That’s what’s driving our employment.”

The Flagler County facility has added 153 positions since January, with some of the jobs coming as a result of the shifting of positions from the company’s Merritt Island operation as well as the introduction of new boat lines.

The increase in the size of boats being built in Flagler County necessitated the construction of a new water test ramp earlier this year at the plant on Sea Ray Drive.

Wall said the new ramp is part of an effort by Sea Ray’s parent company, Lake Forest, Illinois-based Brunswick Corp.

“Brunswick is still willing to invest in this facility,” he said. “It’s up to us to perform. With the higher class boats, customer expectations are higher.”

The effort appears to be paying off for Sea Ray and the entire line of Brunswick’s Boat Segment.

The company reported third-quarter earnings earlier this week and posted a sales increase of 13 percent compared with the same period in 2013. Year-to-date overall sales increased 5 percent, according to the company earnings release.

“Our third quarter revenues increased by 13 percent with U.S. sales up 15 percent and international markets up 10 percent,” said Dustan McCoy, Brunswick chairman and CEO, in a media release.

Brunswick’s Boat Segment is comprised of 14 boat brands, including manufacturing operations in Volusia County, where the company’s Boston Whaler and Brunswick Commercial Government Products plants build vessels.

For the third quarter, the Boat Segment reported net sales of $234 million, compared to net sakes of $191 million for the same period in 2013. While the third quarter results reflect an operating loss of $7 million, that is an improvement over the $17 million loss reported for the third quarter of 2013.

McCoy said the positive results are expected to carry forward into the fourth quarter.

“During the fourth quarter, we expect our businesses will continue to benefit from several new product introductions along with increases in production rates and capacity,” he said, in the earnings release. “Market acceptance of these products has been excellent and as a result, our plan reflects strong revenue growth rates in the fourth quarter of 2014.”

One of those new products is Sea Ray’s 470 Sundance and the Flagler County plant will be at the center of that production effort, according to company officials.

“The 470 Sundancer is a distinctly new generation of Sea Ray sport yacht, yet it maintains the familiar grace and signature style that our boaters appreciate about the Sundancer series,” said Tim Schiek, Sea Ray president, in a media release. “It is an embodiment of both Sea Ray’s proud legacy and its bright future.”

The increase in boat sales at Sea Ray is part of a larger trend of increased sales industry wide. Speaking at the 2014 International BoatBuilders Exhibition and Conference in Tampa earlier this month, Thom Dammerich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, was optimistic about the future.

“My message is simple, and that is the good times are here for recreational boating and there’s more good times ahead,” Dammerich said. “People are building and they’re making money. It’s a good time in recreational boating.”

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