Hatteras sends first boat to China

New Bern’s Hatteras Yachts is charting new courses on the high seas, beginning with the unveiling Saturday of the first yacht it will ship to China.

Hatteras CEO Jim Meyer said the move toward the Far East market came with assistance by Gov. Bev Perdue, who visited China during an Asian trade mission, along with state Department of Commerce officials, in October 2011.

Perdue was on hand for a personal tour of the 60-foot motor yacht Saturday morning on the docks behind Persimmons restaurant and the Galley Store.

After the tour, the governor called the finished product of the Hatteras workers “marvelous.”

“This is a real opportunity for the craftsmen and women of Hatteras to begin to own the China market,” she said. “That is what this all about. We visited with them when we were in China and I feel very comfortable that this is a real winner for Hatteras.”

Meyer said the sale is the start of Hatteras introducing its products to the Chinese market. The local boat builders are already constructing an 80-foot motor yacht.

“Our plans for this year are to have a network of three to four dealers in the country, of which, the first is on board now,” he said. A company-owned sales office opens next month in the Chinese city of Schenzen.

Meyer said Hatteras will be the first American boat company in China for large motor yachts.

“We view China as a very important part of our future,” Meyer said. “We can easily see China being 25 percent to one-third of our total business. The (China) market is taking off very quickly and there is just a great opportunity.”

The potential of the foreign market will help the boat builders remain on a path of recovery and growth from hard economic downturns and layoffs of several years ago.

“Over the past 24 months, we have added 460 jobs,” he said.

He said Brazil is another foreign market the company plans to test this year.

“That is going to be part of how we fuel the growth,” he said.

The American and European markets, historically main staple buyers of Hatteras products, remain soft.

“I would describe the U.S. market as having bottomed out and maybe showing some small signs of recovery,” he said. “But, it has truly got a long way to go.”

Rather than wait for the historic markets to recover, Hatteras decided to be proactive.

“It is important we learn how to operate in the new places where there is currently a very vibrant market,” he said.

Hatteras announced in mid 2011 it would enter the sales market in China.

“We spent the second half of last year looking for business dealer partners,” Meyer said. “That was also part of the agenda during Gov. Perdue’s trip there last October. In fact, she ended up meeting the people who have purchased the boat.”

The buyers are a group that is forming a company that will become a Hatteras dealer, he said of the boat, which serves a dual purpose.

“When it arrives in China in March, it will be used for both personal use and promoting the brand,” he said. It will be on display in April at the Hainan Boat Show — the country’s top show.

“We’re proud of the boat. We’re proud of the business and we’re excited about the opportunity,” Meyer added.

Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or chall@freedomenc.com. Follow him on Twitter @charlierayhall


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