Sounds Trade Only Today was first to report the Larson Boat Group is moving its boatbuilding operations to Pulaski, Wis., shuttering the 104-year-old operation it has maintained in Little Falls, Minn., and discontinuing its Triumph brand.
Larson, Larson FX, Larson Escape and Striper will be built in Wisconsin. The Carver 34, 37, 40, 43, 52 Fly and Coupe are now built there, as are the Marquis 72 and 66, and the VanDutch 30, 40 and 55.
All 141 people who work at the Minnesota plant have been offered jobs in Wisconsin, said Larson Boat Group and Marquis president and CEO Rob Parmentier.
“Fifty percent of our production went to Canada, and with the strong dollar going on two or three years, that part of our business has suffered,” Parmentier told Trade Only.
“Even though we’re doing really well in freshwater and other markets, it was not enough to offset Canada. The dollar hit a 14-year high yesterday. You take a boat from a year ago and increase the price 30 percent — that’s a pretty big swing.”
The company no longer requires two separate 650,000-square-foot plants, in part because of efficiencies put into place after the Great Recession, Parmentier said.
“Both brands are healthy. We just don’t need the capacity,” he said. “We’re building boats smarter and faster and better.”
Most employees had not decided whether to follow the brand to Wisconsin.
“It takes a little while,” Parmentier said. “It’s a grieving process. That place has been there a long time. We’ve been very upfront with them from the beginning. It went unbelievably smooth. The communities are very similar — small, tight-knit group of people … with a passion for craftsmanship.”
The Larson Boat Group is working with a Fortune 500 company to purchase the Minnesota plant. If that deal comes through, Parmentier imagines that some of the workforce will stay and work there.
“They have already mentioned they will need some employees. It is fiberglass-related. I can’t say who it is, but I think people are excited about that opportunity,” he said.
The Little Falls, Minn., operation will shut down in the first quarter of 2017.