Regal Marine Industries’ Orlando headquarters rates as one of the industry’s finest boat building facilities.
Following my recent trip to Florida for the Regal Marine International Dealer Conference covered in last week’s Powerboat-World, we were taken north to Orlando for a tour of the company’s HQ on Jetport Drive, almost alongside the city’s ultra modern international airport.
It proved quite an eye opener in many ways.
Regal Marine rates as one of the city’s largest employers, with more than 650 engaged at the Orlando plant.
Another 200-plus can be found at Valdosta, in Georgia, where the company acquired a former Bayliner production facility to enable Regal expansion.
The Orlando plant could only be termed modern in every sense, and is continually upgraded to enable the company to meet every demand of its worldwide dealer network.
Quality control is meticulous, with boat construction, engine and other component installation closely monitored at every stage.
All those touring the plant were impressed with the facilities available, both for building boats and caring for employees.
Staff canteen and an outside picnic area were among the choices for employee meal breaks.
Within the vast production area various models are subjected to stringent testing prior to being announced ready for shipment.
All boats spend time in in-ground water tanks for rigorous testing for leaks and engine performance.
One noticeable feature regarding the larger vessels in the Regal range was the profusion of Volvo Penta’s IPS (Inboard Propulsion System) engines and drives.
Regal Marine has been so impressed with the Volvo Penta design that on several models there is no other option.
That includes the company’s all-new flagship, the 5260 Commodore Express.
Introducing the 5260 Commodore Express means that Regal now joins Sea Ray as the only two manufacturers offering boats from 19’ (5.79-metres) to 50’ (15.24-metres)-plus.
The men at the helm of the company are Duane and Tim Kuck, sons of the late US industry legend Paul Kuck, whom I had the pleasure of meeting some years ago when he was in Sydney as chairman of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
Duane, President and CEO of the company, and Tim, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, proved gracious hosts throughout and remained accessible to the media on all company matters.
On the current ‘flat’ state of the US boating industry, Duane Kuck said he did not predict any major improvement for 2008.
'However, I’m confident of a 2009 resurgence and Regal Marine Industries will be ready to deliver the appropriate product worldwide,' he said.
A most informative and enjoyable plant tour finished with a boardroom luncheon and again Duane and Tim joined the group and remained the perfect hosts together with their support staff, particularly International Sales Manager (and MC of the conference) Bonnie Frenkel.
There’s one feature of the company not only worthy of mention, but that will surprise many Australian manufacturers.
Outside the plant, in clear view of traffic passing along Jetport Drive, a large sign states
‘Free Tours of the boat factory’ – every day at 9am, no appointment necessary, people just turn up and receive the ‘Grand Tour.’
I can only assume that is part and parcel of a company owned and operated by a friendly family.