Brunswick: Ramping up Quality for the Long Haul

By Joseph Keefe

As Brunswick Commercial & Government Products expands its capabilities and product line, the Florida-based boatbuilder is positioned to safely provide increased efficiencies, and an expanded, multi-mission product line. 

When Brunswick Commercial & Government Products (BCGP) broke ground on a facility expansion at the company’s Florida headquarters in early May, it served notice that this well-known boatbuilder had ramped up both its delivery capabilities, and an expanded array of new hulls. With a new large-boat building that includes added manufacturing space and other facility improvements, the 10,500-square-foot facility increases the company’s manufacturing capacity by 50 percent. But, according to Boston Whaler Group President Nick Stickler, that’s only the beginning of what’s coming next.
Headquartered in Edgewater, Fla., and owned by the Brunswick Corporation, BCGP represents the commercial interests of the Brunswick Boat Group. Offering both quality and customizable crafts to commercial and government agencies around the world, BCGP specializes in patrol, rescue, military, research and workboat applications. 
Building on the Past with Increased Capabilities
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, BCGP will leverage its past, as it also looks to the future. The first Boston Whaler boat was built in 1958 in Braintree, Massachusetts, and gained critical acclaim after its launch at the New York Boat Show. Shortly thereafter, Boston Whaler began producing government and military workboats. In fact, and with deep roots in the military and government sectors, some of the very first commercialized Boston Whaler boats were used in the Vietnam War.
The demand for commercialized Boston Whaler boats continued to grow and in 1983, a dedicated business was established with the sole focus of producing boats for the commercial and government sector. By 2001, the demand for Boston Whaler Commercial & Government Products boats became overwhelming and the business was incorporated and moved into its own manufacturing facility. Shortly after the move, the company became Brunswick Commercial & Government Products (BCGP).
Over time, the company has many times expanded the product line to offer more choices for commercial and government buyers. In 2009, for example, the company launched a line of Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) known today as the Impact family, offered in 6.5, 7.5, 8.5 10, 11 and 12-meter variants. In 2013, the company began offering custom build aluminum cabin boats, the Sentry line.
More recently, the firm’s 31’ Vigilant model has been introduced and is in production. But, BCGP’s leading-edge innovation isn’t limited to just the hulls. For example, BCGP’s version of ‘DP’ and “joy stick” navigation promises to revolutionize boathandling for recreational and commercial marine operators alike. With a simple and instantaneous system of technology that allows even the most novice of boat handlers to easily berth or position a midsized workboat, the device opens up new possibilities for the recreational market, while providing important tools for the municipal and military markets.
Currently, BCGP has built one boat using their Mercury Joystick Piloting Option (JPO) with Skyhook. That vessel is being used as a demo unit to introduce the concept to customers, as well as to receive feedback from the marketplace. At the same, it is also true that all the manufacturing capability and innovation in the world simply isn’t enough for the Edgewater,Florida-based BCGP. That’s because, along with 60 years of continuous quality operations, the firm recently also marked a major safety milestone. Boasting 10 years without a lost time incident, the firm announced in April that BCGP’s employees have worked 1,817,000 hours without a lost time incident and maintained a recordable incident rate of zero in 2016. BCGP was also recently presented the Sustained Safety Performance Award from their parent company. This special designation is an acknowledgement of manufacturing facilities with outstanding safety records, where the highest levels of safety performance are consistently achieved over extended periods of time.
Customized, Multi-Mission Quality
Referencing the firm’s new infrastructure, Nick Stickler said, “The new building will house state-of-the-art equipment and allow for the capacity to produce larger and more complex vessels.” Indeed, many of the company’s large, multi-unit contracts as well as all boats over 27-feet will now be assembled in the new large-boat building. Beyond this, the addition will also include improvements to the company’s existing 23,000-square-foot main assembly building, which will be streamlined for smaller-boat production and better accommodate the company’s considerable refurbishment and warranty departments.
As MarineNews went to press, the project was nearly complete and ready for manufacturing operations. That’s a good thing, as the firm has recently introduced a new line of hulls and completed several high profile projects. The expanded manufacturing space gives BCGP – one of the most recognized names in boatbuilding – room to comfortably bid for more, and that’s exactly what they intend to do. But, whereas some other firms have been touting a “stock boat” plan that features generic hulls that can shorten delivery time for time-pressed customers, BCGP prefers to follow its own time-tested manufacturing model.
Due to the fiberglass construction process and the highly-customized nature of BCGP’s boats, the firm doesn’t see much value in pre-building generic hulls. A BCGP spokesperson told MarineNews, “We take pride in offering a one-of-a-kind customer experience, where the customer is involved in the build from the design phase throughout construction to delivery. During the design phase, the customer can chose from thousands of options for customization, those options are taken into consideration during the lamination processes, making BCGP boats truly fortified for the rigors of commercial use.” 
Customized Quality Delivered
Whatever the requirement, BCGP takes pride in delivering exactly what the customer wants. Like many workboat builders, the firm is seeing a marked trend toward multi-mission demands, and less to the demand of ‘mission specific’ vessels. Much of this trend is a function of tighter municipal and government CapEx budgets. To that end, BCGP recently delivered a 10-meter Impact to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) that embodies the ease at which BCGP vessels can be customized to handle a multitude of missions. The recently delivered boat has been equipped to handle routine patrol, recreational boat safety, port patrol as well as dive-ops.  
Separately, the firm also introduced a new model, the 31’ Vigilant. The newest offering in the Boston Whaler Commercial line-up, the first boat from the new tooling was delivered to the Port Jefferson New York Fire Department. This top-of-the-line fireboat features a 135 HP marinized fire pump capable of pumping 1150 GPM @130 PSI. The boat is equipped to handle fire suppression, search and rescue as well as EMS missions.
Moreover, the new 31’ Vigilant is not a RHIB, nor does it have an aluminum cabin. Different from the process BCGP uses to build the Impact RHIB line of boats, the boat is a Boston Whaler, so it is 100% fiberglass built using the firm’s proprietary Unibond construction process, which gives the Whaler its unsinkability.  
Unobstructed visibility – day and night – from the weatherproof pilot house and 360-degree walk-around platform allows the Vigilant to easily live up to its name. Its many standard features and mission- and application-specific options make each custom-built Vigilant an ideal go-to craft for military, law enforcement, homeland security, surveillance, harbor patrol and rescue teams.
“This boat’s configuration is unique in the fact that it’s been set up to handle multi-mission capabilities, from fire suppression, to search and rescue as well as EMS work,” said BCGP Sales Manager, Dana White. “We recently delivered the boat and I know it will serve the community of Port Jefferson well for many years to come.”
There’s more to that story, however. It’s always nice to sell a boat, but in this case, the 31’ Vigilant will replace another Whaler hull. That’s because the Port Jefferson Fire Department (PJFD) has owned, operated, and maintained a 1989 Boston Whaler 27 Guardian fire boat since it was new. The boat was built at Boston Whaler’s Hanover, MA location before Whaler relocated to Edgewater, Florida.
One could argue that BCGP is its own worst enemy, building boats that last for many decades. But, this story is also a testament to the quality and ruggedness that Whaler builds into every commercial boat and a testament to the outstanding maintenance program at PJFD. It’s no accident, then, that PJFD came back to BCGP when it was time to renew their asset. In fact, the 1989 27 Guardian has been so well maintained that PJFD is selling the boat to a neighboring fire department. Could there be another 28 years in that workhorse?
Leveraging Brunswick’s Staying Power – for the long haul
BCGP’s parent Brunswick Corporation boasts many familiar marine brands, including but not limited to Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrives and inboard engines; MotorGuide trolling motors; Attwood, Garelick and Whale marine parts and accessories; Land ‘N’ Sea, Kellogg Marine, Payne’s Marine and BLA parts and accessories distributors; Bayliner, Boston Whaler, and a raft of others. That’s the kind of experience and longetivity that BCGP leverages, as it positions itself today for an exciting future.
Innovation, impressive (and growing) manufacturing capacity, an unmatched safety record and the willingness to customize virtually any hull for myriad purposes are all exciting hallmarks of this 60-years old (and counting) firm. No doubt what comes next will be equally impressive.
(as published in the November 2017 edition of Marine News)
Marine News Magazine, page 70,  Nov 2017

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