As new products were introduced, the stock market began to recover and employment rose. “People were starting to get out and enjoy the water again,” says Chambers.
“We strive to introduce new models and products regularly and our ability to do so even in the midst of a deteriorating economy is a clear sign of our strength,” says Frederiksen. Business has been steady for Viking Yachts, delivering 53 boats in the last fiscal year.
Maritime Marine’s products emphasize quality and craftsmanship. Its unsinkable hull designs and components are built by a team of skilled composite experts and the boats are outfitted by a crew of professional boat builders focused on improving Maritime’s reputation with every boat shipped. “We are launching new models and reintroducing Southport Boats, a division of Maritime Marine that is creating energy behind the brand,” says Kopp. Southport Boats specializes in fishing and family boat designs.
Making major changes to a company’s facilities and manufacturing processes can be costly and time-consuming. However, some companies put their operations under the microscope during the recession to stay relevant.
“We dropped a few satellite locations and came back under one roof,” says Chambers. “Recently, we purchased a Wellcraft Marine facility in Sarasota, Fla., adding our 5th five axis CNC robotic mill.” Marine Concepts also developed ways to improve holding fixtures for many industries and improve molds for vacuum forming, which are now made from composites rather than more costly aluminum tooling. The company also relied heavily on its business improvement practices such as lean manufacturing, just in time inventory and process controls to build during the recession.
“We converted our entire manufacturing operations to closed molding during 2008-2009,” says Kopp of Maritime Marine. “While it was no less expensive at first, we used this slow time to optimize the process and that has paid tremendous rewards as production now increases.” Both Marine Concepts and Maritime Marine have experienced steady growth since altering their manufacturing processes.
Viking’s reputation is rooted in the company’s commitment to producing 90 percent of their boats in-house, including the fiberglass molds for hulls and decks, the fuel tanks and the interior furniture. Viking turned to green solutions in its facility that are not only environmentally friendly, but also have helped the company reduce overhead costs. “What has helped us tremendously is our facility, which now has its own wastewater treatment plant and solar powered buildings,” says Frederiksen.