Luhrs Yachts for Sale
Come Back Story
St. Augustine’s Luhrs Corp., which built sport fishing boats on 47 acres off the San Sebastian River until its 2008 bankruptcy, has announced that new investors plan to manufacture 25- to 50-foot boats again in St. Augustine within six months.
Roger Yarborough, who will manage the new line at St. Augustine Marine on Riberia Street, said Monday that the new company will be called MB Industries — after Chief Executive Officer Mario J.T. Benedetti, a Miami investor who bought the name and production rights — but the boats will continue to be labeled as Luhrs products.
Benedetti owns a Toyota dealership in Homestead and has operated a Toyota distributorship in Venezuela for years. At one time, the 60-year-old company employed more than 400 people at its sprawling plant. This time, many Luhrs boats will be made from the original molds, but there will be some prototypes built as well, Yarborough said.
“We can then build them as it naturally needs to be done,” he said. “We’ll be adding people. There are some people (who once worked on Luhrs boats) still here. We’ve also received a lot of calls from former dealers, wanting to come back.” He does not know yet how many workers he will hire for this plant. City Manager John Regan was the first to break the news locally, though the decision to come back to the city had been released previously at www.luhrs.com. “We have a 450-year boat building history in this community. It’s very exciting,” Regan said, adding that city officials will assist the company any way they can. I understand that at first there will be limited production demand.”
Luhrs’ St. Augustine plant, multiple buildings surrounded by overgrown brush, is shuttered while the property goes through bankruptcy proceedings. The usual reason given for Luhrs’ going under is the economy, but that suggests tough times where buyers tighten their belts and don’t buy boats.
Yarborough said that’s one reason, but another is that boat manufacturers distribute their boats to dealers with a provision to buy them back if they don’t sell. “When you have 100 boats (for sale at dealers) at $400,000 each, that means (if they don’t sell) the manufacturer must come up with millions of dollars,” he said.
Luhrs Corp. was once under the umbrella of the now-defunct Luhrs Marine Group, which had its headquarters and main manufacturing plant at Millville, N.J., and which declared bankruptcy in September 2007. It ceased operations in January 2008.
The other companies under Luhrs Marine were Silverton Marine Corp., Mainship Corp. and Hunter Marine Corp. All were sold in the bankruptcy filing. “Nobody bought any property. They just bought the company,” Yarborough said.
Hunter Marine, which manufactures sailboats, had been the only one that remained in business. Its new owner lives in Alachua, just north of Gainesville.
An investor group in New Jersey bought Silverton and another buyer bought Luhrs and Mainship. Benedetti bought the company from that person.
“St. Augustine Marine had made major modifications to his (Luhrs) boat,” Yarborough said. “He liked the boat and the company and wanted to bring it back to St. Augustine. He plans a major marketing campaign.”
The company’s announcement said that a group of “naval engineers, marine architects and entrepreneurs who are passionate about boats” plan to manufacture them “with the highest quality, craftsmanship and seaworthiness.”
Luhrs 30 Open – BoatTest.com
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Luhrs Model Reviews – Swordfishingcentral.com
Luhrs 32 Convertible – Saltwater Sportsman Magazine
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Luhrs 350 – Dockside Reports
Luhrs 35 – BoatTest.com
Luhrs 37 – BoatTest.com
Luhrs 36SX – Soundings Online Magazine
Luhrs 500 Convertible – Marlin Magazine