Coming out of the national recession, most companies have faced a downturn in business. Other companies, like yacht repair and custom boat-building yard Zimmerman Marine, have managed to take advantage of market conditions.
The company, based in Mathews, Virginia, is opening up a boatyard in Southport, North Carolina.
The yard, which will open for business on August 15, is the fourth location opened by ZMI. It will be run by former ZMI Operations Manager Steve Wallace.
For 25 years, ZMI operated solely out of Mobjack Bay in Mathews, doing boat refits and custom boat building. About six years ago, a second location was opened in Deltaville, Virginia, and in 2011 a third was opened in Herrington Harbour, Maryland.
ZMI President Steve Zimmerman said that the company indeed was affected by the recession.
“We certainly felt it like everyone else did,” Zimmerman said. “We saw some reductions in volume and we’ve also seen a lot more sensitivity to price and lack of predictability, so we’ve had to work much harder.”
However, Zimmerman also noted that there was a flip side for the company.
“I think two things have happened,” he said. “I think the business has become increasingly complex. I think it has become more and more complicated to service more complicated boats. The combination of that with the fact that there was such a downturn led to some opportunities in the market.”
By opening up more boat-yard locations, ZMI reaches customers that they otherwise wouldn’t, Zimmerman said. Each boatyard has traditional transient customers that pass through, but there are more stationary boaters they miss in other locations. The various ZMI boat-yards share information on the boaters that each services on a single database. This helps to promote synergy and use of other ZMI boat-yards, Zimmerman said.
The new location in North Carolina offers a few additional unique advantages. A high percentage of transient customers stop there, and it leads right into the ICW, Zimmerman said. It is also the last transitional location for boaters on their way to the Caribbean, Zimmerman said, and it can service boaters going north as well.
“It’ll take time, the first year is going to be taken slow and steady,” Zimmerman said. “The plan right now is to sign the July 15 lease, and have a month to move in and get set up. I don’t imagine out of the gate doing major projects there, and we will ramp up as the demand comes.”
With the new network of locations, ZMI also hopes to implement a new discount program.
“My vision for it is that we’re going to create a program whereby customers can sign up to become members and it would give them certain advantages at our locations. Certain discounts, use of vehicles, hurricane haul-outs and all of the records are accessible,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman says he does not have any further expansion plans for the future.
“I think this rounds us out very nicely,” he said. “I think this is the right number of yards. I can drive to each in a day, which I value.”