Boatbuilder shuts as work dries up

BILL MOORE
Last updated 13:00 13/02/2014
Dickson Marine

CLOSING UP: The Dickson Marine building at the Marina.

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Nelson's only substantial boatbuilding company, Dickson Marine, is shutting up shop with the loss of eight jobs.

In a short statement, co-owners Malcolm and Tracey Coffey announced with "great sadness and reluctance" that the boatyard would close at the end of this month.

All trade creditors would be paid but unfortunately, eight "experienced, loyal and capable staff" would lose their jobs, they said.

"The decision was forced on the company by the lack of forward bookings for work and the loss of a 30-metre catamaran new build. That was, according to the owner's Australian bankers, caused by the high New Zealand dollar, which made the funding unpredictable," the couple said.

Staff were told yesterday. Mr Coffey said the couple didn't want to say any more at this stage. "It was a hard day, I can tell you that."

However, he confirmed that the company had not been placed in receivership, and nor was it going into liquidation.

"We're just closing the doors."

The couple took over Dickson Marine at the end of 2012, having moved to Nelson from Auckland the previous year.

Then aged 29 and 27, they said they aimed to develop the business by building on its reputation.

Dickson Marine has a large boatbuilding workshop and fenced hardstand beside the Nelson Marina in Akersten St, where it has built large and small boats and done repairs and refits.

Mr Coffey, a trained boatbuilder, said at the time of the purchase that he and his wife had "gone out on a limb" to take on the business, and while there was an element of risk, they were confident it would work.

The previous owners, Harry Stronach and Geoff Butcher, set up a new business, Nelson Hardstand Ltd, to continue and develop the haulout facility adjoining Dickson Marine, using the long-established Travelift to get boats out of the water for work on the hardstand area.

Port Nelson boatbuilder David Pinker, who employs three staff in two small Akersten St workshops, said the new boat industry was depressed, but on the other hand he was extremely busy with repair and refurbishment work.

Mr Pinker was Dickson Marine yard manager for 11 years until he was made redundant five years ago, when he immediately set up his own business across the road.

"I have been very busy ever since. We're just flat out."

He said the building of boats in New Zealand was "pretty much gone" due to imports of built-up boats. "Nobody's built a new boat around here for ages, apart from small stuff and bits and pieces. The industry as we used to know it is not any more."

Dickson Marine was started by former Nelson yachtsman and boatbuilder Malcolm Dickson and wife Joan in the 1980s.

The closure comes at a time when the Nelson City Council, which owns the marina and adjoining reclamation, has been under pressure from boat owners to provide a better hardstand where they can work on their own boats or have more choice of who does the work. The council has set aside $2.5 million in its 10-year plan for the project.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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