Industry Spotlight on Boating in Florida
Fifteen years after MarineMax went public in 1998, the Clearwater company has grown from 28 to 54 locations across 18 states, making it the nation's largest recreational boat dealer. Last year's acquisition of Parker Boat gave the company exclusive statewide distribution of Sea Ray products. And in 2011, MarineMax branched out into MarineMax Vacations, a charter operation based in the British Virgin Islands. Revenue last year, at $584.5 million, was about half of the $1.2 billion during the heady days of 2006-07, but the company showed a proft in two of the last three years. Chairman Bill McGill Jr. Remains cautiously optimistic: "We all need to be cautious, however, until it becomes clear that meaningful gains are occurring."
For the past 12 years, Skip Braver has brought stability to a boat company whose image is on the wild side. "Cigarette's more and more of a lifestyle company," says Braver, a former exotic car dealer. The company makes 38-foot to 50-foot high-performance boats priced from $399,000 to $900,000. Not long after buying the business, Braver moved to a 130,000-sq.-ft. Opa-Locka plant, where he has 100 employees and recently spent close to $1 million on a showroom he describes as "beyond kick-ass."
Brunswick Corp.: Brunswick stopped manufacturing at its Sykes Creek plant on Merritt Island in mid-2013 and consolidated production at its Palm Coast plant. The Sykes Creek facility, which made 51-foot to 61-foot Sea Ray and Meridian yachts, employed about 205. Workers were given the chance to transfer to Palm Coast, the Boston Whaler plant in Edgewater and the Boat Group's product development and engineering center on Merritt Island. "A good portion of them took the opportunity," a Brunswick spokesman says, but he could not say how many. As of late September, Palm Coast had about 375 employees. Lake Forest, Ill.-based Brunswick says the consolidation would reduce production costs and shorten production time and estimates the move would save $3 million to $5 million a year starting in 2014.
Bertram Yacht: After 50 years in Miami, Bertram Yacht moved in 2012 to a 37-acre site on Merritt Island. In 2013 it produced a 54-foot sport-fshing boat, the frst completely built at the new plant. A 64-footer is expected the frst quarter. "We outgrew the facility not in the volume of product we were producing but in the size," says Alton Herndon, president of the high-end brand owned by the Ferretti Group. About 35 employees came from Miami; the workforce is now about 100 and projected to be 221. Brevard County awarded Bertram about $1.9 million in tax abatements over 10 years.
"Running a shipyard is not for softies. It's a tough business, but a rewarding business." — Bob Roscioli
Marlow-Hunter President John Peterson: "We have someone that's committed to the long-term viability of the company."
David Marlow acquired Hunter Marine's 38-acre, 200,000-sq.-ft. Alachua facility in 2012.
Superyachts (more than 80 feet) can cost several hundred thousand dollars a year or more to operate. Luxury Yacht Group has an online calculator that includes everything from fuel and paint to crew and communications.
Crew costs can vary from $4,000 to $8,000 per month for an experienced captain on a 60-foot to 100-foot yacht to $2,000 to $3,200 a month for a junior deckhand.
Source: Luxury Yacht Group
Fort Lauderdale-based Dockwise Yacht Transport, recently acquired by Sevenstar Yacht Transport of Amsterdam, specializes in moving boats between Florida, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. On the 15-day trip from Genoa to Port Everglades just before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Dockwise carried 19 yachts — some to be exhibited at the show — worth an estimated $248 million. The largest was 187 feet. Estimated cost to transport a 100-foot yacht from the Mediterranean to Fort Lauderdale: $100,000.
Source: Sevenstar Yacht Transport, Dockwise Yacht Transport
In 2010, Florida put a cap on salesand- use taxes on boats bought or brought into the state. Purchases are taxed at a maximum value of $18,000. Before that, boats were subject to a straight 6% tax. The Florida Yacht Brokers Association had argued that Florida was losing business to states and countries with lower or no sales taxes. Since the law passed, the number of 65- foot to 110-foot yachts registered rose 28% from 807 in 2010 to 1,032 in 2012. From 2005 to 2009, registrations of boats that size ranged from 744 to 758.
Sources: Florida Yacht Brokers Association; Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles