sail-world.com -- Is Australian boat manufacturing car-eening for fall
Is Australian boat manufacturing car-eening for fall
Sat, 22 Jun 2013
How do you start a small business? These days, you buy a big Australian manufacturing firm and simply wait for a while …In recent weeks the car world has been floored by news that Ford plans to close its manufacturing plants while General Motors is aiming to cut workers’ wages to avoid or delay, an inevitable head-on crash.
Should the boating industry be concerned? Absolutely!
The car industry has consistently been a decade ahead of boat manufacturing in its R&D, construction, advertising and retailing. It enjoys a larger market, fewer local rivals, superior economies of scale and deeper pockets courtesy of their global parents.
They also have the undying support of a Labor Government that’s thrown millions of dollars at the problem, with Minister of Innovation and Industry Greg Combet insisting that the ability for local manufacturing to design and build a motor vehicle from the ground up is vital for the economy.
Well guess what? We have the ability to design and build boats from the keel up, to the pinnacle of international standards, but if history is any indication the government cares not one whit.
The prestige Australian built marques Riviera, Maritimo, Quintrex, Signature and Seawind, among others, have all struggled in recent years, slicing their workforces without raising so much as an eyebrow at federal level. We’re dispensable it seems.
So if an international conglomerate like Ford can’t build a family car in Australia, how the heck can we continue to build boats? The same market threats apply – a flood of imports built at a fraction of the labour cost, a dollar that for too long refused to be tempered, and nervous cattle. Perhaps the recent drop in the Australian dollar might help a little but it will have to keep falling to make any significant difference.
The Seawind solution was to shut shop and relocate.
‘Probably five years ago it was apparent that Australia had a limited future as a manufacturer,’ owner Richard Ward says. ‘We have a strong domestic market but we’re a long way from the world market – our boats are horrendously expensive to ship.’
Ward investigated options in China and Thailand but delayed a decision at his increasing peril. Then, in 2010, Seawind acquired Corsair Marine, which was building Farrier trimarans in Vietnam, and the die was cast.
‘It was sad, this process of closing our Wollongong factory, and unbelievably difficult,’ Ward adds. ‘People see that you’re selling out, that you don’t care about your workers … but it’s a short-sighted and mistaken way of looking at it.
‘Governments should be helping us to become a global company. That’s what we’ve done but entirely on our own. Seawind is 100 per cent Australian owned, we will continue doing all the design here, and the profits will come back to Australia. The alternative is to die.’
The Boating Industries Alliance Australia, the national peak body for the recreational and light commercial boating industry in Australia is working hard to explain the value of the Australian boat building industry to politicians, we hope they listen.
If not, the spectre of an Australian boat show without an Australian boat, once unthinkable looms as large as the prospect of a Bathurst race without a Falcon or Commodore.
Onesails.com - Workforce
OneSails is the culmination of over 35 years of experience accumulated by our team in design and technology applied to sail-making. [More info]
Burke Marine, suppliers of international quality marine clothing and equipment, was founded by Martin Burke on the shores of Sydney Harbour in 1971. Visit our website for your nearest stockist. [More info]
Ensign Ship Brokers
Ensign Ship Brokers was established in 1980 and has spent the last 28 years expanding our marine knowledge and developing our reputation! We strive to provide the very best service! [More info]
Festival of Sails
The Festival of Sails is the largest annual keel boat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere with over 400 yachts and 4300 competitors annually taking part in the event. [More info]
GME Standard Communications Pty Ltd
Leaders in communications and navigation. Their goal has always been to make products whose innovation, convenience and peace of mind can help improve the lives of their customers. [More info]
Henri Lloyd was established in 1963 in Manchester, England. Mr Henri, as he became universally known, founded the company based upon hard earned principles of honesty, integrity and freedom. [More info]
Hood Sailmakers (Aust) P/L is 100% Australian owned and operated. The first sail loft outside of the USA to be granted a franchise in 1968 by the founder Ted Hood. [More info]
Mauri Pro Sailing
Your direct access to sailing solutions. 8,000+ products for cruising and racing sailors and sailboats. We search for appropriate sailboat hardware or sailing gear and offer them at competitive prices [More info]
Navionics is proud of its superb cartographic database comprising more than 25,000 charts and port plans; the largest privately owned database of its kind, the only one using full seamless technology [More info]
Performance Sailcraft Australia (Asia Pacific)
Laser builder Performance Sailcraft Australia has taken on the successful RS Sailboat range from Britain, and is now licensed to build and distribute all of the RS range in the Asia Pacific region. [More info]
Quantum Australasia Pty Ltd
Quantum Sail Design Group designs, engineers and manufactures sails for racers and cruisers who demand the highest levels of quality and performance. [More info]
Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show
The Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS) is an annual four-day event which attracts buyers and marine industry representatives from across Australia and around the globe. [More info]
Sydney Rigging Specialists
Sydney Rigging Specialists is a leading company in the supply of yacht rigging, cordage, marine fittings and accessories. We are based in Sydney and work from our specially fitted out rigging shop. [More info]
Ullman Sails Australia
The Ullman Sails Australia team provides service to customers all over Australia with four main locations in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and the Whitsundays. [More info]
Vicsail Sydney Pty Ltd, launched into the Australian sailing fraternity in 1983 and has been sailing strong ever since. At Vicsail, “We Sail the Boats We Sell”. [More info]