Boatbuilders ready for good times

Published online: Apr 21, 2009 News JOSH REICH
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A Nelson boatbuilding business has used a couple of quiet months as an opportunity to expand and prepare for when the economy rebounds.

Osprey Boats has recently completed a major overhaul of its St Vincent St site, including increasing the floor space of its factory from 600 square metres to about 1000sqm and building new offices.

Managing director Lloyd Elliott said the firm had been producing about 45 aluminium pontoon boats a year.

It now had the capacity to increase that to 80 next year, and 100 from then on.

Previously, the company had little in the way of a production line, but it now had room for up to eight boats to be worked on at any one time, and could cut the production time for a 8.5-metre-long hard-top boat from 12 to six weeks.

Mr Elliott said the company had spent "tens of thousands" of dollars on the upgrades, and more on improving its marketing, with a consultant, new website and brochures.

Mr Elliott said Osprey had experienced a couple of quiet months from about November, but rather than shed staff and cut costs, it decided to prepare for when work picked up.

"We had three quiet months, when there wasn't much happening, but we saw it as a good opportunity to expand the operation the factory, offices and amenities and prepare for when it kicks back in."

He said sitting still was not an option, as those who geared themselves up for when things did improve would have an advantage over those who did not.

The move already appears to be paying dividends, with boats currently being made for buyers in Brisbane and Christmas Island, and negotiations under way which could result in Osprey supplying a Canadian import agency with three hard-top boats a month.

The firm currently employed eight staff, but if all went to plan, it could hire a further four, Mr Elliott said.

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