Excerpted from the Blackshear Times (Blackshear, Georgia) Published Jan. 13th, 2016
New construction by a Blackshear boat manufacturer could bring 15 new jobs by the summer and perhaps double that by mid-2017.
A 30,000 square-foot addition to Composite Research, Inc. (also known as Sundance Boats) will expand production lines to meet surging demand for saltwater fishing boats, says company president Wally Bell. The new building, known as Plant 1B, would be added to the northwest corner of the company’s 10-acre operation in the U.S. Highway 84 industrial park.
More buyers are shopping for new boats after largely turning to pro-owned models during the recession, Bell says.
“That’s over with now, and we have a lot of pent-up demand.”
Sales from CRI’s Sea Born line of saltwater fishing boats have grown in recent years, Bell says, with industry experts projecting more of the same from the market. Plant 1B will allow the company to have boat hull lamination and assembly operations in separate buildings and add production lines in a workspace large enough for newer models, he explains.
Initial plans call for 15 new employees. Boat production could double over 18 months based on current sales projections with the new job count potentially reaching 35 over that span Bell says. CRI currently has 49 employees.
Bell wants to have Plant 1B partially operational by mid-March with full production running by early May. Construction is expected to begin soon, pending approval of a property line setback variance.
Pierce County development code requires a 40 foot buffer between property lines and new structures in the industrially zoned parcel. The northwest corner of the proposed Plant 1B is about 18 feet from an angled property line, while the rest of the western wall meets the guideline.
The Pierce County Join Planning Commission approved a variance of 25 feet at its monthly meeting Monday. The recommendation will head to the Blackshear City Councel for a final decision.
Bell told the planning commission a Plant 1C expansion, extending south west from Plant 1B, could be added later should increased production be needed. That would potentially put 40 people working in each building for a total of 120 workers in about three years of construction, he said.
CRI launched in 1994 with its flagship brand Sundance Boats. Two more brands, Sea Born and Spyder have been added in recent years.