Johnson Outdoors Inc. said the consolidation of U.S. operations for its Watercraft brands in Old Town, ME has been completed ahead of schedule. The company hosted an open house on Tuesday for local and state officials at its newly refurbished 136,000 square foot facility in Old Town to celebrate the achievement The Honorable John Baldacci, governor of Maine, proclaimed November 10 “Old Town Canoe Day” to commemorate the milestone event.
“Old Town Canoe's craftsmanship, quality and brand are known worldwide,” said Governor John Baldacci. “Old Town Canoe plays an important role in Maine's boatbuilding history and culture, and the company has earned the reputation for being a valued employer and good corporate citizen. We appreciate the commitment of Johnson Outdoors to Maine workers.”
Old Town Canoe was established in 1898 and became a Johnson Outdoors brand in 1974. A recognized innovator in the paddle sports industry, Old Town Canoe is credited largely with the industry's transition from aluminum boats to plastic canoes and kayaks. As a result of the consolidation, the Company's Ocean Kayak and Necky kayaks brands are now being produced in Old Town, benefiting from the craftsmanship there while retaining the unique individual signatures of design, styling and performance that have made both brands leaders in their paddling segments. The newly converted facility also serves as the U.S. warehouse and distribution center for all the Company's paddle boat and accessory brands, which include Extrasport personal flotation devices and Carlisle paddles, and is the hub for all related Watercraft support services and functions.
The former distribution center has been redesigned for maximum production efficiency, while reducing energy use by 50 percent. An estimated additional 48 jobs will be created in Old Town as a result of the consolidation.
“Old Town Canoe has had a reputation as the makers of the world's best canoes for decades,” said Old Town City Manager Peggy Daigle. “The investments Johnson Outdoors is making here in Old Town represent investments in the talented and skilled workforce in this community. We are proud to serve as a partner working to help ensure continued success and future prosperity both for the company and for the employees that so proudly call Old Town their home.”
In June, the Company announced it was working to transform Watercraft into a stronger, more competitive and cash-generating business better positioned for growth in the future. Transformation began in March 2009 when the Company merged leadership of its Watercraft and Marine Electronics business units under a single Group Vice President. In May 2009, brand sales for the two businesses were combined and Watercraft marketing was restructured to simplify and streamline customer communication. Consolidation of U.S. operations in Old Town, Maine is anticipated to result in annual cost-savings of more than $4 million dollars beginning in fiscal 2010.
“In June, we made a commitment to convert our distribution center in Old Town, Maine into an energy-efficient state-of-the-art manufacturing and office facility, and bring more jobs into the local community. Such an effort could not have succeeded without the assistance of a great many people locally and throughout the state. We are grateful for the support of Governor Baldacci and the City of Old Town enabling us to continue our 100-plus year tradition of quality boat production in Maine,” said Helen Johnson-Leopold, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.