Larson Boats leaps into 21st century and introduces world to VEC

Irwin Jacobs, chairman of the Board for Genmar Holdings, Inc.—Larson’s parent company—began his address to media members from around the world by welcoming them “To the most advanced boat building factory in the world.” (Pictured is Irwin Jacobs, Genmar founder and chairman of the board, answering questions from the press after an extensive tour of the new Little Falls’ VEC plant.)

He continued, “This is one of the most important days of my life. It is an incredibly emotional experience, introducing VEC technology to the world, right here from Little Falls, where I got started in the boating industry and where Genmar was born.”

As Jacobs explained the VEC—Virtual Engineered Composite—process to the more than 100 people in attendance, he stressed its importance, “We are making this introduction today because this process will clearly change the boating industry forever. And, try to imagine, that in the near future, VEC will touch so many other industries world-wide.”

Corporate visionaries at Genmar are banking on just that. Although it cost the company $30 million dollars to buy and perfect the VEC process from a Pennsylvania-based company, Pyramid OS (now owned by Genmar), and another $12 million dollars for the brand new 95,000 square foot Little Falls plant, Genmar anticipates recovering those profits in three years or less.

“We can recoup our investment within three years from boat sales alone. But, in an even shorter time if Genmar licenses the VEC process to other industries,” said Grant Oppegaard, president of Genmar. “There has been an interest shown in VEC from companies all over the world. Companies as varied as automotive manufacturers and those from the plumbing industry. Companies that feel the need for change and industry advancement—those that want to bring industry into the 21st century,” he continued.

In fact, Genmar has signed confidentiality agreements with several companies interested in VEC, and engineers are working to determine how the principles can be applied to other products. Several foreign companies have expressed interest as well.

Gene Kirila, former owner of Pyramid OS and the original mastermind behind the VEC process, was also on hand for the media presentation. He explained to members of the press, “That VEC is not just about changing this industry forever, its about changing all industry as we know it.” Referring to his brain-child as “Discovery Channel Cool,” Kirila noted that the VEC process, along with the internet, had already been named one of the top five technological advancements that would make industry as we know it, obsolete.

For now, the Little Falls’ plant will remain the only automated boat building factory in the world. The traditional labor-intensive, open-mold process has been replaced with a completely computer controlled closed-mold system. It has cut production work by 50 percent, it uses one fourth the factory space and it has reduced styrene emissions by 90 percent. Tooling costs have been reduced and parts are virtually wood free—adding to its environmental edge.

Genmar/Larson executives anticipate adding 100 more employees and two more hull and deck forming units to the plant later this year, bringing its annual production potential to 10,000 boats. That number equals one-fourth of Genmar’s present sales. This faster mechanized process has already produced 1,000 hulls that have been rigorously tested and tracked. The product is more precise, exact and the variables in the fiberglass remain constant from boat to boat. This increase in strength has led to the unique lifetime-warranty that will be stressed in Genmar’s $2 million dollar marketing campaign.

Before the press was given an extensive tour of the VEC plant, Jacobs said, “It is the people in the factory, the employees, and literally the hundreds of workers that made this happen so quickly. We’ve been running a race against ourselves, against the next generation—and we’ve succeeded. I salute them all.”

In a follow-up to Wednesday’s media tour, Jacobs spent Thursday entertaining executives from over 50 companies world-wide, interested in the VEC technology.

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