La Conner's American Tugs sold
May 31, 2023
La Conner based Tomco Marine Group, builders of American Tugs, was bought by the Kadey-Krogen Group of Stuart Florida May 18. The 36 employees at American Tugs' 28,000-square-foot facility on Pearle Jenson Way will continue to build boats there, said General Manager Troy Olason Friday.
The company is still recruiting after hiring eight employees this year, he said. It builds five models ranging from 36 feet- to 48 feet that sell for $595,000 to $1.7 million and has delivered more than 250 cruising boats since 1999.
The Kadey-Krogen Group builds seven models of Kadey-Krogen trawler yachts and three models of Summit Motoryachts. It was founded in 1976 and has sold over 640 boats. It now builds vessels from 44 to 80 feet.
The acquisition will not affect production of any of the boat lines and plans are to market each brand separately, a Kadey-Krogen press release stated.
"It's really an exciting opportunity for us to acquire such a successful boatbuilder, led by a team that we'll be collaborating with on day one," said Tucker West, Kadey-Krogen Group president. "They have a healthy backorder of boats, a great reputation in this market and, most importantly, a customer base that really loves their American Tugs."
American Tugs co-founder and CEO Kurt Dilworth and Jeff Calvert, who manages sales and is listed as co-owner and co-chief executive officer by the website Pitchbook, will remain.
"This is an incredible opportunity to complete the marriage of two companies that strive to be best in class and together have more than 71 years of boatbuilding experience. That's tough to beat," Dilworth is quoted in the press release.
"We are certainly looking at ways of combining forces on the production side where it makes sense," said Fran Morey, Kadey-Krogen Group production manager. "Initially we see opportunities through purchasing and even on tooling on new models. American Tugs has a worldclass team of engineers and builders and we're looking forward to working with them to create some incredible boats. It's a win-win."
American Tugs General Manager Olason is optimistic, pointing to a two-year backlog of orders, with five boats in production and plans to start three new ones by August. "Our biggest bottleneck is people: hiring more crew!" he said. The company plans to finish nine boats this year after building six in 2022.
American Tugs' purchase means more growth. Olason was not surprised Dilworth sold. "He was looking for a partner-slash-investor to do things we have been trying to do," he said. The sale will bring resources and investment. He shared a marketing slide: "Three great builders. One exciting future" with the three boat line names and logos.
West, the Kadey-Krogen Group president, projected expanded service and refit offerings for Krogen and Summit customers here and leveraging their west coast sales. Olason said the La Conner facility will become a service center and the northwest factory district office since over 600 Kadey-Krogen boats are on the water. That means business for all the marine service companies in the La Conner Marina, he noted and for the town's restaurants and stores.
U.S. manufacture of Kadey-Krogen and Summit boats, now built in Taiwan, is possible, Olason said, given the difficult political situation there. A trade journal wrote Kadey-Krogen "hints at a future where the companies will be working together on the production side."
American Tugs will benefit from Kadey-Krogen's sales offices in Portsmouth, R.I.; Annapolis, Md.; Seattle and Stuart, Fla, too, Olason said. "If the sales are successful, we need to finish more than nine boat a year.
"I am really excited about this in some ways I cannot even quantify," he said. "It is a great synergistic type of thing that's happening." He praised the American Tugs workforce for the skill and quality of their work and again repeated his need for employees: "We are hiring literally on every front."
Olason also praised Port of Skagit Executive Director Sara Young, saying she "she helped us greatly. She was very excited to help." American Tugs leases space in the Port's La Conner Marina.
Kadey-Krogen had revenue of $4.5 million and 23 employees in 2021, several financial analysis websites report.
American Tug was founded by Tom Nelson, Kurt Dilworth and Mike Schoppert. (Nelson retired several years ago and Schoppert retired four years ago). Jeff Calvert bought into the company upon Schoppert's retirement. Kurt Dilworth and Jeff Calvert owned Tomco Marine Group prior to the sale.