Hunter Marine parent company files for bankruptcy

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 1:31 p.m.

The parent company of Hunter Marine Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.

Morgan Industries Corporation is the parent company of Alachua-based sailboat and sailing yacht manufacturer Hunter Marine and the Luhrs Marine Group family of powerboat manufacturers based in Millville, N.J., that made the Silverton, Ovation, Luhrs and Mainship brands.

The powerboat businesses shut down in January. Operations continue at Hunter Marine, the largest U.S. sailboat manufacturer.

Hunter Marine President John Peterson said the bankruptcy was filed to protect Hunter Marine from the debts of the powerboat companies.

The company is evaluating options that include a complete or partial sale to investors to internal reorganization. Peterson said the company currently has six suitors lined up.

He said sales improved each of the past two years and are on track to improve again this year as the company has a larger slice of a smaller pie. Hunter Marine also is making boats for Gemini Catamarans and will be handling manufacturing for two other boat companies that are shutting down their own plants.

“Our backlog of orders is more than reasonable and remarkably higher than the last two years,” he said in a news release.

Peterson told The Sun the company had its best year in 40 years in 2007 and was up to 425 employees but had its worst year just two years later as the recession hurt discretionary income and credit dried up for consumers and dealers. More than 100 of the 490 members of the National Marine Manufacturers Association have gone out of business, he said.

Hunter Marine now has 54 employees. Peterson said the company intends to keep the employees, who will maintain their wages and benefits. He said the company also intends to bring back 20 people put on furlough in recent weeks.

According to the bankruptcy filing, Morgan Industries has between $10 million and $50 million in assets and $10 million and $50 million in debts.

New Jersey powerboat builders Warren and John Luhrs founded the Hunter Marine sailboat operation in Alachua in 1972.

Luhrs and Mainship corporations also had a St. Augustine plant that closed in 2008.

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