The current management team at Nordic Tugs is looking for investors to help them acquire the brand and production capabilities from the current private owner of the company, according to a source familiar with the search. Late last week, the Washington state boatbuilder announced it was shutting down manufacturing operations. The company recently launched a new 42′ for the Seattle Boat Show, as well as a new 39′ for the Show, and has a couple of dozen pre-owned Nordic Tugs listed for sale on its website.
The current owner cited the economic recession as the underlying cause of the manufacturing shutdown. The shutdown is being attempted with the goal of keeping all parties involved as “whole” economically as possible. Employees who are being laid off are being paid for time worked up to the shutdown and for paid time-off that had been earned. Vendors and suppliers are also being paid, according to one company official.
There were two additional company-owned boats in early stages of construction. A quick check with some Nordic Tug dealers suggests a guarded optimism that the brand will survive and that manufacturing will resume as soon as consumer demand picks up whenever the recession is over. It’s pure speculation on my part, but Nordic Tugs fit into the mid- to upper-market niche and probably have a slightly higher percentage of financed buyers than the very high-end cruising and passagemaking boats. They may also have a buyer demographic that has been hit harder by unemployment. These factors could exacerbate the difficulties faced by the builder and dealers in finding buyers with either significant discretionary cash on-hand, or access to easy credit. Those last two are characteristics in extremely short supply right now.
In the end, the boats and brand will likely survive, in my opinion. They are high-quality boats, with a diverse and loyal ownership base out there that could move up through the larger models if economic conditions permit.
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