AUGUSTA — Within the next two years, Southport Boats is expected to move to a much larger facility, double its employment and start manufacturing new boats.

Fueling those changes is the purchase of the Augusta-based company, which was announced on Tuesday.

The principals behind Carbon Craft, the maker of tenders for luxury yachts built in Tampa, Florida, acquired Southport Boats for an undisclosed amount. Carbon Craft and Southport Boats will now be part of Tuxedo Yachts, a holding company created to acquire luxury-oriented boat businesses.

Southport Boats builds outboard powered center console fishing boats that range in length from 27 feet to 33 feet.

In a news release announcing the acquisition, Skip Sorenson, chief executive officer of Tuxedo Yachts, said investors were attracted to Southport Boats by the passion its customers have for its boats, the dealer network that’s already in place and Maine craftsmanship.

“This is a unique opportunity to position these tow luxury boating brands to outperform the market, deliver superior financial results and create the most memorable customer experiences,” Sorenson said.


George Menezes, vice president and general manager of Southport Boats, said by the end of the year, the company is planning to add 12 to 15 employees to its roster of 35 and to relocate to a new facility about four times the size of the current facility on Riverside Drive.

In the next year, company officials are planning to add 20 to 25 additional workers to meet the anticipated workload. The jobs are expected to be a mix of entry-level and skilled.

With the additional space and staffing, the Carbon Craft manufacturing is expected to be relocated to Maine.

Menezes said demand for Southport Boats is higher than the company’s ability to produce them in its existing space. And with the new ownership, the company is expected to be better funded to support new product development.

“We have been hamstrung,” Menezes said. With new investment, he said, the company is on the edge of new growth.

“The reason this happened is because of the Maine boat-building tradition. The people were willing to invest in the company and buy the product that’s built in Maine by Maine craftsmen with a Maine work ethic,” Menezes said.


The deal has been in the works for several months, he said.

The move comes just five months after a Pennsylvania company, Creative Pultrusions Inc., acquired Kenway Corp., which owned Southport Boats.

Kenway, which had started in 1947 as Kenway Boats, started making wooden boats and eventually started producing fiberglass boats. Later, the company shifted its focus away from boats and started producing a variety of corrosion-resistant and custom-fabricated components like pipes and tanks for industrial clients and opened a facility on Riverside Drive in Augusta.

Over the years, Kenway has bought other companies that put it back in the boat-making business: the New Hampshire-based Maritime Skiff in 2007 and the North Carolina-based Southport Boatworks in 2011.

At the time of the Kenway sale, Ian Kopp, then company president, said Southport Boats LLC would continue to be owned by him and Kenneth Priest and Michael Priest. But as the companies grow, he said that business would likely be looking for a location in the greater Augusta area into which it can expand.

Menezes said the owners had been looking for equity partners, but after several discussions, the new owners opted to buy the company outright rather than invest in it.


“Our new owners liked us, liked that we are in Maine and are very excited to keep us in Maine,” Menezes said. “We will keep the existing team. We’re not going to lose anything.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: