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Viking Yachts

  Name: Date Entered:  
 Viking Yachts

03/01/2010

Viking Yacht Company Celebrates over four and a half decades

The Viking Yacht Company has celebrated four and a half decades in business building luxury performance sportfishing and cruising yachts. Started by brothers Bob and Bill Healey in 1964 when they bought Peterson-Viking Builders, a small, struggling New Jersey builder of 37-foot, wooden sportfishing boats, Viking Yachts has grown to become a world leader in semi-custom fiberglass yacht production with over 4,000 Vikings delivered.

With Bob at the company helm as Chief Executive Officer and deal maker, and Bill as company President, chief boatbuilder and head of the company's in-house design and engineering teams, this family-owned and managed business is still the industry leader. Viking Yacht Company can build over 100 high-end yachts, from 46 to 82 feet and valued at $1 million to $5.5 million each year. Skilled employees build yachts in Viking's state-of-the-art, 810,000 square-feet, waterfront-manufacturing facility year round.

Not too long ago, though, the picture at Viking was anything but rosy. When the double-whammy of a nationwide recession hit in 1990, followed by the introduction of a federal luxury tax in 1991, the company went from 1,500 employees in two plants to just 80 employees in one plant. In general, the marine industry went into a tailspin that resulted in massive plant shutdowns and a significant rippling effect of related closures as ancillary businesses, such engine manufacturers, equipment producers and other vendors saw their markets dry up.

The Healeys borrowed working capital and invested their own money to keep the company afloat. Bob Healey also was instrumental in organizing a national, grass-roots campaign to fight the tax based on a loss of jobs issue. In taking the industry lead, Bob organized busloads of out-of-work boat builders that converged on Capitol Hill. Other demonstrations took place on a regular basis around the country to plead for support in repealing the tax. In Rhode Island, a boat was set on fire aboard a barge in Narragansett Bay as a symbol of protest. It took better than two years, but by 1993 the luxury tax was history and Viking was poised to flex its muscles as boat buyers returned to the market. It is interesting to note that Viking's decision to remain open, despite dismal sales attributable to the luxury tax allowed the company to tool up for new models. Thus, when the tax was lifted, Viking roared to the front line leapfrogging over its competition firmly establishing Viking as the dominant builder in its class.

The brothers' commitment to the marine industry is unique. Viking's open-door policy has welcomed students, vendors, competitors, legislators and others interested in boat-building technology to the New Gretna facility to see first hand what Viking has developed. Under Bill's leadership in design and engineering, Viking contributed to the development of, and was one of the first to adopt the American Boat & Yacht Council's (ABYC) Standards and Recommended Practices, as well as the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Recommendations. Every model in the Viking line up is NMMA certified using ABYC standards.

As a testament to their continuing attention to building a safe boat, Viking Yachts received CIGNA Recreational Marine's prestigious Award for Excellence "For their contribution to boating through training, education and the production of products which have helped set standards for safety and quality within the industry."

An interesting aspect that sets Viking apart from its competitors is that the company manufactures about 90 percent of the items that go aboard each yacht. Except for major components such as engines, propellers, air conditioning units and appliances virtually everything is made on site. Viking molds its own fuel, water and waste tanks out of fiberglass, for example, so that the tanks fit into the lowest reaches of the bilge to enhance stability and maximize capacity. In addition, the tanks are then fiberglassed into place adding to the strength of the hull. Engine beds are fabricated from structural steel to ensure drive train alignment and handle the high horsepower output of modern marine diesels that allow mid-30 knot cruising speeds. A sophisticated metal shop welds aluminum into bow and safety railing. Computer controlled machinery in the mill cuts wooden parts with surgical accuracy and the hand-finished varnished teak interiors are a beauty to behold. Yacht interiors are professional designed and furnished on site.

Bill and Bob, who have been very successful in building tournament sportfishing boats, feel a strong sense of obligation to the sea. They are founders of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a non-profit organization formed in 1996 to promote sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment. Viking has contributed over $7 million to the RFA and the membership is now at the 75,000 mark. Spurred on by Viking's commitment, other environmental groups and people within the boating industry also have rallied around this important cause.

Today, Viking enjoys an enviable status as the country's leading builder of convertible yachts, with many industry observers on record describing Vikings as the best yachts of their kind in the world. The Healey's entrepreneurial spirit was recognized twice by the national accounting firm Ernst & Young, which selected the brothers as its New Jersey Entrepreneur of the Year and then as runner-ups in the national competition. At the 2001 Miami International Boat Show, the Healeys were bestowed the prestigious Chapman Award by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Motor Boating magazine for their contributions to boating for the benefit of the industry and the public.

Viking Sport Cruisers, a company formed by the Healeys in 1996, has also been phenomenally successful, distributing British-built, high-end cruising yachts from 42 to 95 feet, built to Viking's specifications, through its dealer network in North America.

In dealing with an owner base that is constantly seeking new and larger models, Viking produced the Custom 105, built in Viareggio, Italy, to Viking's specifications by Versilcraft. The new yacht made its premiere at the 42nd Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2001 and was awarded the National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2002.

In February 2002, Viking opened a new service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, near Palm Beach, to accommodate Viking owners who bring their boats south for the winter. The new facility features slips for in-water work, as well as land storage to handle larger projects and outfitting. A 125-foot by 150-foot shed with 50 feet of clearance will accommodate boats with tuna towers for indoor work.

In December 2002, the Bass River Marina, adjacent to the Viking Yacht plant was bought back by the Healeys and reflagged the Viking Yachting Center. It was at this marina where the Healey brothers started their maritime careers. The brothers sold the property in 1964 when they devoted all of their energies to boat manufacturing.

In early 2003, Viking formed two new companies, Atlantic Marine Electronics (AME) and Palm Beach Towers (PBT). Atlantic Marine Electronics is based at the Viking Yachting Center (with a satellite office in Riviera Beach) and is responsible for the sophisticated electronic navigation packages, which are installed aboard Viking Yachts and Viking Sport Cruisers. Based at the Riviera Beach, Florida, facility (with additional service bays at the Yachting Center), Palm Beach Towers designs and builds tuna towers and fabricates other aluminum and fiberglass components for Vikings and other yacht brands.

At a very special breakfast presentation on October 29, 2003 during the International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, Viking Yachts’ Bill and Bob Healey were recognized by their peers and inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Hall of Fame for their selfless contributions to the recreational marine industry.

To this end, Viking established a charter school, the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy in Riviera Beach, Florida, near the Viking service facility. The goal of the school is to provide willing students with an academic background leading to a high-school diploma and hands-on experience in marine trades. Students work in both a classroom setting and a full-service boatyard. Upon graduation, students may attend college, or choose to enter a marine field of choice. The marine industry in South Florida has been estimated by the Sunshine State to be worth $13 billion, which easily surpasses the tourism industry. This means jobs in marine trades will always be in high demand and Viking has taken the lead to ensure these jobs will be filled by qualified tradesmen.

At a time when the brothers could take a well-earned rest, Bob and Bill are busier than ever. When not promoting the Recreational Fishing Alliance or industry issues in Washington, D.C., Bob can often be found at Viking. Bill is at the plant daily overseeing new expansion plans and to ensure Viking is “building a better boat everyday.” And of course, Bill still makes it a point to say goodnight to his employees each evening, a habit he started way back on April 1, 1964.

 

TIME LINE
Viking Bullet Points of 40 years:
What a wonderful trip it has been!
1964 Viking Yacht Company formed when brothers Bill and Bob Healey purchased Peterson-Viking Builders, a well-regarded NJ manufacturer of wooden sportfishing and cruising boats.
1971 Viking builds its first all-fiberglass model, the Viking 33 Convertible
Fall 1972 Viking 40 Convertible makes its debut. It is a huge marketing success (over 600 40/41 models sold over the next 16 years). Every Viking built since has shared this basic hull design, with evolutionary refinements being made to accommodate steadily increasing available horsepower and speed.
The 1980’s Viking further refined its reputation for engineering excellence and sophisticated design.
1987 Viking moved into the large motor yacht market with the purchase of Gulfstar Yachts, an innovative West Florida-based builder whose designs at the time were considered among the most modern in the industry.
1990 Viking was offering a full line of convertibles and motor yachts,
however the economic recession of that period-together with the ill-timed 10% luxury tax – crippled Vikings production for a time.
1991 The introduction of a federal luxury tax caused the company to go from 1500 employees in two plants to just 80 employees in one plant. In general, the marine industry went into a tail-spin that resulted in massive plant shutdowns and a significant rippling effect of related closures as ancillary businesses, such as engine manufacturers, equipment producers and other vendors saw their markets dry up.
1991-1993

The Healeys borrowed working capital and invested their own money to keep the company afloat. Bob Healey also was instrumental in organizing a national, grassroots campaign to fight the tax based on a loss of jobs issue. In taking the industry lead, Bob organized busloads of out-of-work boat builders that converged on Capitol Hill. Other demonstrations took place on a regular basis around the country to plead for support in repealing the tax. In Rhode Island, a boat was set on fire aboard a barge in Narragansett Bay as a symbol of protest.

It took better than two years, but by 1993 the luxury tax was history and Viking was poised to flex its muscles as boat buyers returned to the market. It is interesting to note that Viking’s decision to remain open, despite dismal sales attributable to the luxury tax allowed the company to tool up new models. Thus, when the tax was lifted, Viking roared to the front line leapfrogging over its competition, firmly establishing Viking as the builder in its class.

Dec. 1995 Viking 60 Cockpit Sportsyacht was awarded “Boat of the Year” by Boating
magazine.
1996 Bill and Bob, who have been very successful in building tournament sportfishing boats, feel a strong sense of obligation to the sea. They founded the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a non-profit organization formed in 1996 to promote sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment. Viking has contributed over $7 million to the RFA and the membership is now at the 75,000 mark
1996 Viking Sport Cruisers is formed, a company that has been highly successful distributing British-built, high end cruising yachts, built to Viking’s specifications, through its dealer network in North American.
Fall 1997 Viking premiered the all-new 55 Convertible at the Fort Lauderdale
International Boat Show. Designed and built to be the ultimate mid range
luxury performance sportfisherman, the 55 has met with critical acclaim in
the boating press and has sold to date 115 of this model.
1998

With 20 yachts sold before the first hull was delivered, the Viking 65 Convertible is a legend in the making, delivering phenomenal speed, range and comfort.

Already a proven winner, in the prestigious 1999 Mid-Atlantic $500,000 tournament, a leading boating magazine reported that, with optional 1,800 hp DDC-MTU 16V2000’s, the 65 made 34.5 knots at 2000 rpm and hit 39.3 knots at full throttle.

1998 Robert T. Healey and William J. Healey, owners and founders of the Viking Yacht Company, and Bill’s son Patrick, were awarded the Ernst & Young 1998 New Jersey Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year Award. They went on to be runner ups in the national competition.
1999 Introduction of the 61 Convertible at the fall boat shows. The Viking 61 demo boats a 781 lb blue marlin in the White Marlin Open. Worth over $303,000 in tournament winnings, Viking donated half the prize to the Recreational Fishing Alliance. So far, 77 of this model sold.
2000 Plant expansion, Viking Yacht has invested more than $10 million to upgrade and improve their manufacturing facility, which now encompasses 550,000 square feet. Whether it is a new, ultra violet curing machine that helps achieve that gleaming finish on our interior joinery, or advance computer – controlled point- to-point machining centers that cut wood parts with surgical precision, Viking is committed to building the best boats with state-of-the-art equipment in a safe and attractive working environment.
2001

Viking has added the Custom 105, built in Viareggio, Italy, to Viking’s specifications by Versilcraft. The new yacht made its premiere at the 42nd Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show in October 2001. The Custom 105 was awarded the NMMA’s 2002 Innovation award by Boating Writers International.

At the 60th Anniversary Miami International Boat Show, Bill and Bob Healey are honored with the prestigious Chapman Award by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Motor Boating magazine in recognition for their contributions to boating for the benefit of the industry and boating public. The Viking 52 Convertible premieres.

2002 Viking opened a new service facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, near Palm Beach, to accommodate Viking owners who bring their boats south for the winter. The new facility features slips for in-water work, as well as land storage to handle larger projects and outfitting. The Viking 48 Convertible was introduced at the Miami International Boat Show.
June 2002 The Viking 45 Convertible premieres as a 2003 model at Viking’s dealer meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
2003 Viking creates Atlantic Marine Electronics and Palm Beach Towers to provide added value by offering customers turn key ready Vikings. The 45 Open and 56 Convertibles are introduced. Bill and Bob Healey are inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame. Viking also purchases Bass River Marina and re-flags it the Viking Yachting Center.
2004 To assist in manufacturing plugs for new molds and provide a constant stream of upcoming new models, Viking purchases a $1 million computer operated and controlled five axis-profiler. At over 80 feet long and 20 feet wide, it is the largest of its type in the marine industry. Viking introduces the incredible 74 Convertible. The Viking Yacht Company is honored as a semi-finalist in the New Jersey Family Business of the Year Award, sponsored by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, Fairleigh Dickinson University, PNC Bank and New Jersey Monthly magazine.
2005 At the 2005 Miami International Boat Show, Viking is awarded the prestigious Manufacturers Trophy by the World Billfish Series, in recognition for the numerous tournament winnings by Viking owners. Tuckerton Seaport honors Bill Healey and Viking Yachts for the continued support of the Seaport’s Antique & Classic Boat Show and the Parent & Child Boat Building Workshop. Viking introduces the 68 Convertible and designs a new Enclosed Bridge for the 74 Convertible. Both boats premiere at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show. In spite of a week’s delay in opening the boat show due to Hurricane Wilma, Viking’s impressive display attracts tremendous interest. Viking announces the upcoming launches of the Viking 52 Open and 64 Convertibles.
2006 The 68 Enclosed Bridge Convertible premieres at the VIP Miami Boat Show Preview at the Service Center in Riviera Beach, Florida. Two weeks later at the Miami International Boat Show, Viking receives the World Billfish Series President's Cup for the second year in a row amisdst a gathering crowd awed by the new 64 Convertible, a candidate for the National marine Manufacturer Association's Innovation Award. The Riviera Beach Maritime School is founded TKTK. Expansion plans at the New Gretna facility are announced and include a waste treatment plant and a wind turbine. Mid year, the 52 Open is launched. In Ft. Lauderdale, the 64 Enclosed Bridge, 56 Enclosed Bridge and 52 Sport Yacht premiere. The year ends with Viking being honored as the 2006 Family Business of the Year by Fairleigh Dickinson University's Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies.
2007 The Viking International Yacht Center opens in Riviera Beach, Florida, a few docks north of the Viking Service Center. Growth spurts enjoyed by Palm Beach Towers and Atlantic Marine Electronics creates the need for them to move to the new facility to better serve their clients. In Miami, viking captures the World Billfish Series President's Cup a third time. The 54 Convertible is showcased at the Miami Boat Show. A wind turbine test tower is installed in New Gretna to collect and measure data. At the 2007 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, the Viking 60 Convertible is premiered to rave reviews.
2008

Viking shifts its presence to Collins Avenue and makes its initial appearance at the 2008 Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show. A magnificent display includes the first Viking 60 Enclosed Bridge Convertible, along with a brand new series of West Coast sportfishing models called Bad Company editions. Designed with innovative flying bridge arrangements, tuna towers, outriggers and fore and aft bait stations, Viking raised the bar by producing a turnkey ready tournament machine built strictly to West Coast standards for Southern California, Baja and Mexican waters. The Viking 50 Convertible also appears. At the plant, other milestones in manufacturing are reached with advancements in our resin infusion process in the creation of tankage, propeller boxes, engineroom vents and dozens of other components. In March, the hull mold of the 82 Convertible was lifted from its plug in preparation for the building of our new flagship. Meanwhile, throughout the summer and into the fall the 82 Convertible takes shape. Upon meeting engineering’s construction and sea trial parameters in early fall, the new boat heads to Florida after Thanksgiving in preparation of the 2009 Viking VIP Preview.

2009

At the 13th Annual VIP, Viking introduces the 82 Convertible, the 57 Convertible and the 46 Convertible. Less than two weeks later, the new 46 Open joins the fleet at the 2009 Yacht and Brokerage Show. The Viking 76 Convertible is announced and premieres at the 2009 Lauderdale Boat Show along with a Viking 82 Enclosed Bridge Convertible. Plans to introduce a Viking 70 Convertible are announced.

2010

The Viking 76 Enclosed Bridge is unveiled at the 14th Annual VIP Boat Show preview, along with drawings for the new Viking 42 Convertible with its innovative pod drive system.

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