A boat manufacturing facility in Arkadelphia is shutting down its operations.
BRP, a Canadian corporation that owns brands such as Can-Am and Ski-Doo, is shutting down its Alumacraft manufacturing facility in Arkadelphia. The company will be consolidating its boating manufacturing operations in a similar facility in Saint Peter, Minn.
As a result of the consolidation, 90 local jobs will be cut, according to Elaine Arsenault, BRP senior advisor for media relations.
“In order to be more competitive in the market, we have decided to consolidate all Alumacraft operations on one site and upgrade our boat production facilities to the modular model used elsewhere in BRP. This will enhance productivity and effectiveness as well as respond with more agility to demand. We had to make the difficult choice on which site could be made the most productive and St. Peter emerged as the better option,” Arsenault said.
The news was announced in passing in a press release posted on Fishing Tackle Retailer. BRP announced its plans to discontinue its production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines and announced its plans to repurpose a Wisconsin facility for new projects. In the final full paragraph of the press release, before a question-and-answer section, the company announced that it would be merging its Alumacraft operations and permanently closing its Arkadelphia site.
The new came as a surprise in the Arkadelphia community. Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance and Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Stephen Bell said the company had been discussing potential expansions recently.
“We were just discussing possible expansion in the last year,” Bell told Arkansas Money & Politics. “The county had actually done some drainage work near their business. Due to rain, the water would back up near their plant, and they were talking about adding onto their building.”
However, he noted that Alumnacraft had been a “good corporate citizen” and had been a long-time member of the Arkadelphia business community.
Bell speculated that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the decision to close the Arkadelphia site, noting that sales would likely have decreased during the global pandemic.
Despite the facility’s shutdown, Bell said that he remains optimistic about the local community’s future. While he said that economic development is often a matter of “two steps forward, one step back,” he sees future growth on the horizon. There will be an industrial prospect in the area in June, he said.
As for the Alumacraft facility, he plans to reach out to other boat manufacturers to gauge interest in the site.
Alumacraft was founded in 1946 by Harry J. Neils, a company president for Flour City Ornamental Iron Company, a blacksmith shop in Minneapolis. Neils developed the idea to manufacture aluminum fishing boats with the company’s surplus of metal.
The company was acquired by Timpte Industries in 1970, moving its facilities to Saint Peter, Minn. The Arkansas connection came in 1974 when Alumacraft acquired General Marine Corporation in Arkadelphia.
BRP acquired Alumacraft, as well as Evinrude, in June 2018. These acquisitions led to the creation of the BRP Marine Group. The terms of the transaction were undisclosed but the Star Tribune newspaper in Minnesota reported that the sale price was less than $100 million.
Image courtesy of Alumacraft