PORT ANGELES — A recreational aluminum boat builder based in New Zealand is siting a manufacturing facility in Port Angeles after looking statewide for its North American home.
Stabicraft — a company founded in 1987 with dealerships in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Canada — expects to begin operations in the Port of Port Angeles Airport Industrial Park early next year, port officials said.
Port commissioners Tuesday approved a three-year lease with a three-year option at 66 cents per square foot for Stabicraft to occupy the 16,800-square-foot former Airborne ECS building on O Street.
Caleb McMahon, port director of economic development, said the building once had been leased by Arrow Marine but had been empty for about three years, a status that Stabicraft was changing by week’s end.
“They are already moving some things in now,” McMahon said Friday.
He said the company would start with about a dozen employees, begin manufacturing in two to three years and could hire 30-40 workers over five years, including welders and boat fabricators.
“The majority of jobs will be skilled or high-level jobs,” McMahon said.
“We have other companies staying in the area because they are so attached to our workforce. That was a big driver for them.”
Stabicraft, with 160 employees, is New Zealand’s largest boat manufacturer, producing more than 1,000 boats annually and exporting boats worldwide, according to the company.
It builds chambered boats for recreational boating inshore and offshore.
The company’s expansion into Port Angeles comes in response to increased orders in the North American market, the company said.
“Port Angeles is quite like our hometown, Invercargill,” said David Glen, CEO of Stabicraft, in a press release.
“We are both coastal towns with a long seafaring heritage. Still, we need to be innovative and self-reliant to maintain our market leadership.”
Stabicraft devans, or unloads, 40-foot containers and assembles boats for delivery to Pacific Northwest dealerships from downtown Seattle.
“In the short term, we will be moving this to Port Angeles,” Glen said.
The company focuses on staff training and development and has 22 apprentices, Glenn said.
“We plan to bring the same cultural emphasis to our manufacturing operations in Port Angeles.”
Stabicraft’s decision to move to Port Angeles was the result of an application put together by port staff and the Clallam County Economic Development Council, of which port Commissioner Colleen McAleer is executive director.
McAleer said Saturday as EDC director she compiled information on area demographics, transportation and similar businesses in the area, and included available port property for the application to the state Department of Commerce.
The parcel was made available on a statewide multiple listing. McAleer said the lease was negotiated by port staff.
Port Angeles’ selection was the result of statewide competition for the Stabicraft facility.
“I do know sometimes it gets frustrating, but we do hundreds of those competition leads and we got one to stick,” port commission President Steven Burke said Tuesday.
“I think this fits right in with the goals of the port in trying to do things not just with natural resources, with timber products, but also becoming a marine manufacturing and repair hub for at least this part of the Peninsula,” Commissioner Connie Beauvais said.
“We are the first deep-water port that is passed by when vessels are coming from the Pacific Ocean, but this also gives a company like Stabicraft an opportunity to build vessels right here in the Pacific Northwest.”
Said McAleer: “This is going to be great for our community and great for the marine trade industry that we are investing a lot of money in to grow in our marine trade center.
“Congratulations to the port staff, and luckily we had this great building that would work beautifully for them.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story.