As co-founder of the Viking Yacht Company with his brother Bob in 1964, Bill Healey knows boat building. But what makes Bill special is his willingness to help others. We posed a few questions about boat building and thought you would enjoy his responses.
Q. How has boat building changed over the past 50 years?
A. Today’s boat is superior to what has been built in the past. The boats are faster, stronger, have more accommodations and certainly more systems. Resin infusion is rapidly overtaking open mold construction producing lighter and stronger laminates, and helping to deal with federal and state regulations. But there is no easy solution for rising costs of raw materials, labor, insurance and taxes. Ultimately, these rising costs affect the prices of new boats.
Q. What has Viking done to help mitigate some of these costs?
A. Controlling overhead is the most critical challenge facing boat builders today. We have designed the Viking factory to be efficient with energy saving initiatives that will lead us in the right direction for continued success. We are fortunate that we are vertically integrated, and design and manufacture so many of the parts that go into our boats. Being able to design and manufacture all of our molds from fuel tanks to hulls is key. But we can’t stop there. We have to double-down on our overhead. Last year we built our own tri-generation power plant that provides heat, cooling and electrical energy. With this plant running on natural gas and fueling six micro turbines, we have been able to reduce our monthly electrical costs more than 20 percent.
Our wastewater treatment plant that services the factory and the Viking Yachting Center has reduced this expense by 50 percent. Our most recent plant addition, a pair of trash compactors also is producing savings in the neighborhood of 40 to 45 percent. The quality of the materials and the labor we put into each Viking yacht makes them expensive, no doubt about it. Our goal with reducing our overhead is to add more value to each boat by keeping these costs in check.
Q. What makes the Viking Yacht Company unique?
A. We are boat builders and our hearts and souls are in it for the long haul. We have a wonderful group of people creating an amazing product built in America with experience and pride and dedicated to building a better boat every day