The Americus Times-Recorder
AMERICUS — The Americus-Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA) announced Tuesday that Sak Marine Co., LLC reached an agreement for Caravelle Powerboats to manufacture boats in Sumter County. The announcement followed a special called meeting at 11 a.m. to iron out the project’s details.
PDA executive director David Garriga told a large group of local dignitaries on hand for the announcement that Sumter Bank and Trust President Ty Turner suggested that the PDA meet with the owners of Sak Marine Co., LLC, Eugene and Duane Sak, to see what could be done to keep the Caravelle manufacturing facility in Americus. Garriga said that the suggestion led to a long session of discussions and ultimately an agreement with the PDA.
“We are grateful that the Saks recognized the skilled workforce available to them in Americus and are equally grateful for the willingness of the community to bring them in as a business partner,” Garriga said.
At Tuesday’s gathering Eugene Sak told the story of how Caravelle Powerboats came to remain in Americus and Sumter County. He said that two weeks ago they were finalizing the acquisition of Caravelle. There were men, trucks and forklifts on stand-by to begin the relocation process to Florence, Ala.
“We were gone,” Saks said. “Ty Turner walked in at 4:15 on the eighth as we were finalizing our documents,” Saks said. “He said that he worked at the bank and asked if we would mind staying in Americus.”
Saks explained that within 10 minutes there was a meeting scheduled with Garriga and South Georgia Technical College director for Economic Development, Wally Summers, for the next morning.
“Within the first day we fell into an informal discussion of what it might take — by the second we were working on an outline,” Sak said.
“The skillful efforts, personal outreach and the agreement offered by the PDA were key factors in our decision making process, but the quality of life in Americus and the educational structure offered by SGTC was certainly not overlooked either,” Sak added. “Community support was strong and decisive and the ‘get-it-done’ mentality was appreciated.”
On Tuesday Sak told the crowd which included members of the PDA, Sumter County Board of Commissioners, Americus Mayor Barry Blount, Americus City Council members and department heads, SGTC President Sparky Reeves and Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, that it was difficult to explain to the local officials in Florence, Ala., that his company would not be bringing Caravelle to their community as expected, but that the outreach and value of the workforce were positive factors for Americus. He said that the skilled work force and trades people that have not moved on from the community since Caravelle began limiting production in August 2009, will be rehired to work under the new ownership. Rusty Houston and Craig Cummings, production and sales managers, will also return under the new management. In all, Caravelle is expecting to employ upwards of 150 people in the area.
Eugene and Duane Sak own and operate several business units that include elevators and metal fabrication. Sak said that the demand for economical powerboats is coming back and they are confident that the Caravelle name will drive sales to the “cost-conscious consumer.” Since 1966, Caravelle Powerboats has manufactured small craft, stern-drive recreational boats in the U.S. and Canada.
“We are excited to have Caravelle here. We want to get Caravelle back to what it was a few years ago,” Eugene Sak said.
The PDA has also worked out a deal with Caravelle Powerboats to lease one of the buildings that formerly housed the Lockheed Martin facility. The building will be for the product finishing and showcasing of the water craft. According to Garriga, a 15-year lease agreement was reached for the Lockheed Martin building. Further details of the agreement between the PDA and Sak Marine Co., LLC will be made available later.