Michigan Boat Builders Enjoying Rise in Sales
Like many of the metro Detroit clients he serves as an accountant, Jeff Vitale feels better about the economy now compared to the days of the Great Recession. So, when it was time to enjoy the family cottage on Harsens Island with his wife and two children, Vitale decided to spring for a new aluminum-hulled pontoon boat to ply the waters of Lake St. Clair.
Crain’s Detroit Business reported that his choice was a 25-foot-long 250 SLR model made by Crest Marine LLC in Owosso — “the best boat we could ask for” when it came to layout for storage and power to get around.
Multiply the experience of Vitale a thousandfold, and it’s clear why some boat builders in Michigan are getting downright giddy about the resurgence of the industry. Even those boat manufacturers that specialize in custom-crafted vessels with price tags north of $1 million are cautiously optimistic that business will grow, based on the fact that work is steady now.
If a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money, then more Americans now are willing to shovel cash into floating craft of all shapes and sizes, according to the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“It’s likely Americans put boat purchases on hold until the economy steadied,” said Sarah Ryser, the association’s director of communications. “With rises in consumer confidence and the housing market have come rises in new-boat sales.”
As the sixth-largest boat manufacturing state in the U.S., Michigan is benefiting from the pent-up demand for pontoons, fishing boats, small family cruisers, sailboats and powerboats, as well as nonpowered craft such as kayaks and float boats for fishing.
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