Hacker Opens Showroom in Florida, Will Build Factory in Queensbury
By Buzz Lamb
Friday, May 3, 2013
Senator Betty Little announced on December 19, 2012 that more than 50 projects in the 45th Senate District have been awarded state funds through the second round of Regional Economic Development Council awards.
Hacker Boat Company, Inc. received a $600,000 grant ear-marked toward escalating its production facilities to meet demands for larger boats which will ultimately create 31 new jobs.
According to George Badcock, president of Hacker Boat Company, shortly after the announcement rumors started to circulate. On December 22, 2012 the Plattsburgh Press-Republican mistakenly reported the grant was for facility expansion so the company could stay in Ticonderoga. “The rumor was that we were moving into the (now unoccupied) Lowe’s building. That isn’t the plan. We are moving to Queensbury,” Badcock said.
On January 3, 2013 the Press-Republican wrote that Hacker Craft is indeed moving from Ticonderoga to Queensbury for a facility expansion. Currently a 32,000 sq. ft. facility at the former Delmar Box plant on Delano Road is used for the construction of the luxury mahogany runabouts. Badcock said that facility, plus an 11,400 sq. ft. restoration shop in the former J.J. Newbury store in downtown Ticonderoga, is just too small for future expansion. “The move to Queensbury was not predicated on the grant,” he said. “But, we are thrilled to be a recipient.”
Badcock said the move will make the boat-building operation more efficient. “We will be building two new models for our international market and the production facility building in Ticonderoga is just too small,” he said. Badcock said the company currently has 39-foot and 45-foot models on the drawing board.
In November 2012 Badcock was negotiating the purchase of the Native Textiles building located off Exit 18 of the Adirondack Northway but the deal ultimately fell thru. Badcock said he has been working with the Warren County Economic Development Corporation attempting to locate a suitable site. “They have been fantastic to work with,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about Vickie Gerbino and John Wheatley. They have worked so hard for us,” he said.
“We are at the point where is seems more feasible to start from scratch…that is acquire vacant land and build a facility just the way we want it rather than trying to re-hab an existing building,” Badcock said. “We need around 80,000 square feet to do it right.”
Badcock said with a building that size the company could consolidate all of its operations under one roof. “Production, of course…but then we could move restoration in there, move our offices in there and still have space to store boats after they have been built…before they’re shipped out,” he said.
Moving to Queensbury would make it more convenient for buyers who visit from out of the area and fly into Albany International Airport said Badcock. “Our customers want to go to the factory to personalize their boats. They want to see them being built. The location in Queensbury will make it that much easier,” he said. “We need a larger and more convenient area for people to select the options they want in their boat.”
Badcock said that in early December a man from California called the Hacker Craft office to say that he would be flying into Albany International in his corporate jet on business and expressed an interest in the 22-foot Racer model the company produces. Badcock said the man asked, “Can you bring it to me at the airport? If I like it, I’ll pay you for it.”
Badcock said they brought to boat to the airport as requested. “He climbed into the seat, liked what he saw and wrote out a check on the spot,” Badcock said.
Badcock said his company is seeking to expand sales to international buyers who come to the U.S. as well. “By the beginning of February we will open a 4,350 square-foot showroom in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. which is a stones-throw from Fort Lauderdale International airport,” he said. Badcock said six boats will be on display at all times and sea trials will be available for serious buyers. “There’s a marina right across the street where we can launch the boats.”
The Fort Lauderdale facility is located just south of the Dania Cut-off Canal providing easy access to the Intercoastal Waterway and Port Everglades. According to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, the area is home to a multi-billion dollar marine industry with more than 42,000 registered yachts. Badcock said the Fort Lauderdale market area has great potential as well. “It’s known as the Venice of America,” he said.
Given that Badcock plans to market his boats internationally, on Tuesday, January 15 he flew to London where Hacker Craft débuted a boat at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show, reported to be one of the largest shows in the world.
Gibbs Boat Sales Ltd. has been appointed the United Kingdom dealership for Hacker Craft and will be displaying Hacker’s 26-foot Sportabout. Gibbs represents some of the world’s leading boat manufacturers including Cobalt, Regal and Larson. Hacker Craft has already signed on a dealer in Puerto Rico and Badcock said it is likely that they will have a dealer in South Korea in the next few months as well.
“Our plan is to be in a new facility by the end of the year,” Badcock said. “We desperately need the space.”