Armstrong Marine USA Inc., managing director Perry Knudson, left, and commercial sales manager Capt. Charlie Crane discuss operations at the boat fabrication shop east of Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Armstrong Marine USA Inc., managing director Perry Knudson, left, and commercial sales manager Capt. Charlie Crane discuss operations at the boat fabrication shop east of Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Armstrong to expand scope under new owner

PORT ANGELES — The Eastern Washington company that recently purchased Armstrong Marine Inc. will put extra focus on building aluminum-hull catamarans as the boatbuilder continues its 26-year tenure on the North Olympic Peninsula, company officials said last week.

Armstrong Marine Inc., founded by Josh Armstrong 2½ decades ago, was purchased Sept. 22 by Clarkston-based RMG Holdings Co.

Borrowing from the old name, RMG Holdings re-monikered its new acquisition Armstrong Marine USA Inc.

Port Angeles native Perry Knudson, who has worked at the welded aluminum boat and barge builder since 2012 as its general manager, is the new managing director.

RMG Holdings bought the company’s assets 7 miles east of Port Angeles, and intellectual property, for an undisclosed price, Josh Armstrong said last week.

Amstrong Marine Inc. employed 80 workers and generated an annual payroll “in excess of $3 million” Armstrong said last week.

RMG Holdings retained those employees and “is currently hiring to expand the team,” Knudson said Saturday.

Josh Armstrong was confident “there will definitely be growth opportunities for Armstrong Marine in their new capacity,” he said.

“It’s going to be a very positive impact to the community.”

He is leasing his former company’s combined 26,000 square feet of work space to RMG Holdings, through his Simply Magnificent Properties, in an industrially zoned area at 151 Octane Lane and 93 Octane Lane.

Armstrong, also owner of US Work Boats of Swansboro, N.C., will remain senior adviser to Armstrong Marine USA Inc., said Vernon, B.C., resident Byron Bolton, CEO of RMG Holdings, in a Sept. 22 letter to dealers of RMG products.

Bolton and his wife, Sheryl, own RMG Holdings.

US Work Boats will collaborate on marketing and engineering with Armstrong Marine USA, Bolton said in the letter.

Armstrong plans to split most of his time between his home in Clallam County, where he also will focus on property and real estate development, and North Carolina, he said last week.

RMG Holdings, incorporated in Washington state in 2012, owns Renaissance Marine Group Inc., which manufactures the heavy-gauge aluminum boat brands Duckworth, Weldcraft and Northwest, out of Clarkston.

Armstrong USA will join that group and KingFisher, a Vernon, B.C., aluminum boatbuilding company owned separately by the Bolton family.

Bolton discussed the sale further in a telephone interview last week.

“We’re very excited about the Armstrong addition,” he said.

“Armstrong is probably the first and leading manufacturer of aluminum catamarans in North America,” Bolton said.

“This is a very strategic move, a strategic decision,” he said.

Knudson said the acquisition will continue to expand Armstrong Marine USA Inc.’s reach into building catamarans for commercial and government use.

Armstrong is a government contractor, winning a $38 million contract to build maintenance barges for the U.S. Navy in 2013.

“I want to make absolutely no mistake, no mistake of our commitment to Port Angeles,” Bolton said.

“To have a talented workforce like we’ve got at Armstrong, that’s the real attraction and will be the reason we remain committed to the Port Angeles area.”

Knudson said last week the announcement was delayed until Nov. 3 so customers and vendors could be notified of the change.

“We have a really strong team of people,” Knudson said.

“We’ve got a lot of street smarts, and we are a fairly nimble group here building boats.”

Concentrating on aluminum, high-speed catamarans has helped expand the company from its initial days “from a few guys to the machine it is now,” Knudson said.

Catamarans are gaining in popularity for their stability, speed and fuel efficiency, he added.

“We will be using the horsepower we gain by being part of a bigger team, using some of their expertise in the form of standard custom offerings to the marketplace and their unique ways of working with vendor sand sourcing materials.

“We’ll be using those things in the back end to refine our offerings of catamarans to the market.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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