His name is synonymous with building the best boats in Australia, winning national awards every year for the past decade but Steve Shaw is gearing up for a new title – Grey Nomad.
For 25 years, Steve’s Powercat Marine near Caboolture has had a client list of who’s who of the corporate world and seasoned boaties – among them Keith Williams but now he has decided to enjoy retirement while he is still young enough to enjoy it.
While the economy is still bouncing back from the GFC and spending on luxury items is not what it used to be Steve is quick to point out his decision was lifestyle based.
'My older brother retired then died a year later. I have worked hard all my life and now want to enjoy it with my wife Lynda as much as we have enjoyed working together for all these years,' he said.
'I have a number of overseas buyers from India and Dubai who are interested in the business, I would hope to keep it in Australia, but I am ready to leave the industry in a positive way.
'The last few years have been tougher that’s for sure and I have been able to hold on because I bought my own real estate over the years, so it makes it easier when you own the buildings and the factory.
'I really believe the Government needs to do more to keep the marine industry viable in Australia – starting with legislation against grey imports – boats that can be imported and sold here even when they do not meet the Australian standard – everything made has to reach an Australian standard and be certified – stuff from the US doesn’t have to.
'Many different bureaucratic government policies and changes have at times made things quite hard. The marine industry, with the GFC, has been reduced by more than 50%. You never find a boat on a wrecking yard; they are not replaced - the more we build the more that are out there. The overheads in the industry are massive. The strings are getting pulled tighter.
'There is still plenty of life in the marine industry I just don’t want to have to reboot the business at 60 – I always planned my life in 3-5 year progression and I want to start travelling in small trips to start off with.
'I guess my last project will be building my own boat. I stand by my product so I would actually be happy buying one of my own second hand boats.
Steve’s most recent awards include 2010 Trade-A-Boat Group Top 20, Best Ever Power Boat, 2009 Modern Boating Family Boat of the Year (7m-9m Australian) and 2008 Modern Boating Best of the Best Award.
'I bought Power Cat Marine back in 1996, but the company started in the early ’80s. We are currently the oldest existing manufacturing catamaran company in Australia,' he said.
'It has been part of our philosophy to put a lot of time and money into research and development –I think that is why we have stayed in business as long as we have by reinvested in the business and not overcapitalising.
'We have always been very hands on. We have also got our business structured so that we do everything in-house - design, manufacture market and retails sales, all from our factory - so our percentages are much greater than any opposition.
'The boys are still buying toys, we sold 28 new boats last year, it was a good year but buyers are pulling back from the $700,000 boats to the $200,000-$300,000 range.
'Every new model we have released has won an award – so there is certainly plenty of life left in the business.'
With testimonials like, 'I am an ex-naval officer who has owned more than a dozen yachts and power boats, ... none have given me more satisfaction and extreme pleasure as this stunning boat,' from Rhys Hanly-Jones (ret R.N) in Sydney Harbour to Colin Venter in Vanuatu who wrote how ‘jaw dropped’ dealers in Vanuatu were with Steve’s commitment to service – in his words everyone was 'stunned' : Steve will be missed by the industry.
'I will always love boats but right now I am planning to take the van to the Atherton Tableland onto Darwin and the West Australian coast,' Steve said.
'I have worked hard all my life and don’t feel guilty about retiring early – not one little bit.'
More at www.powercatmarine.com.au