Hacker Boat Co. has announced it will use a $600,000 grant from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council to move its operations from Ticonderoga to Queensbury, shutting down two local facilities and taking 38-40 jobs out of the community.
When Hacker Boat Co. received a state grant last month it was hailed as good news for the local economy.
That turns out to be wrong.
Hacker has announced it will use a $600,000 grant from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council to move its operations from Ticonderoga to Queensbury, shutting down two local facilities and taking 38-40 jobs out of the community.
“It’s largely based on expanding internationally, in terms of market,” explained Kenneth Rawley, Hacker spokesman. “We’re going to build larger boats, in addition to the ones we make now. We’ll need more space.”
Rawley said Hacker will build a new plant in Queensbury and move all operations there in 2013. He said there is no time table for the move.
The company manufactures luxury mahogany Hacker Craft boats in the former Delmar Box plant on Delano Road in Ticonderoga. It also uses the former Newberry Store on Montcalm Street for repairs and restorations. Both facilities will close.
Hacker’s employees in Ticonderoga will be offered jobs in Queensbury, Rawley said.
“We’re working to make that happen,” he said.
Company offices, a showroom and a marina are located in Silver Bay. Rawley said there are no plans to leave Silver Bay at this time.
In announcing the Regional Economic Development Council grant in December, state Sen. Betty Little said, “Hacker Boat Company will expand its current facility to meet demands for manufacturing larger boats. The company will invest $5.4 million and create 31 new jobs.”
There was no mention of the company leaving Ticonderoga.
Rawley said the move to Queensbury will make the company more accessible to customers and allow the firm to consolidate operations in a single location.
Many Hacker customers fly into Albany and travel to the Ticonderoga plant to select a boat. Queensbury will be more convenient for clients, Rawley said.
The new Queensbury facility will be constructed near Northway Exit 18.
The Ticonderoga plant opened in the fall of 2009.
“This is no reflection on Ticonderoga,” Rawley said. “We’ve enjoyed our time in Ticonderoga. This is simply a matter of expanding to a larger facility.”
Hacker announced last year plans to add larger models to its product line, a departure from a tradition of building boats that average 22-30 feet length overall.
For decades the company has built three models — Runabout, Sport and Racer — rarely longer than 30 feet. While larger custom boats have been built, almost all boats have been in the 22-30 foot range.
The decision to build larger boats is based on the company’s international expansion efforts. The new models will be 39 to 45 foot, suitable for coastal cruising.
Hacker Boat Co. has been making classic vessels for more than a century. Hacker makes hand-crafted, mahogany boats. Every board is cut, all 30,000 screws are placed by hand. Even the metal hardware is fabricated on site. Each boat gets up to 18 coats of varnish.
The Delano Road facility has the capacity to build 15-20 boats at a time. It takes six months — about 2,000 man hours — to construct one and the company completes 30-40 boats a year.
Prices start at $100,000 and go to $250,000 for standard models. Custom boats cost more.
Hacker Boats traces its history to 1908 when John Hacker took note of engines being designed for cars in Detroit and applied the technology to boats.
He designed a round about that became known as the “Steinway” of boats, a reference to the famed piano. He built boats for the rich and famous and helped the U.S. Navy during World War II.
When fiberglass boats were created in the 1950s, their limited maintenance and cheaper price made them more popular with the general public.
Hacker survived, though, by catering to high-end classic boat lovers.