Growing up in Florida as an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish, it’s not a surprise Hugh Dailey was the proud owner of one of the top-rated fishing boats.
However, he slowly began to see several features that were overlooked by the boat manufacturer, which inspired him to start his own business and fill those voids.
“I was approached by a passionate boat designer with a plan to build a high-performance bay boat that included family features,” Dailey said. “My partner had a vacant warehouse coming at the end of a great recession and we jumped on board.”
Beginning in 2013, Crevalle Boats manufactures high end center console hybrid style fiberglass boats to 16 dealers with 21 sales locations. From Corpus Christi to the Florida Keys and up to Baltimore, their consumers are business owners, pilots, business professionals and the like.
Making memories of his own out on the water ever since he was young, Dailey’s passion for building bay boats goes beyond the business.
“Building family friendly fishing boat is very satisfying,” he said. “It is great to hear that families all over the southern United States are having fun, catching fish and making memories.”
When it comes to value, Dailey says their boats provide it in the form of quality, reliability, pride of brand and operating costs.
Overcoming Challenges and Looking Toward the Future
Growing Crevalle has had its fair share of challenges, Dailey says, mostly revolving around finding the right talent.
“Our greatest challenge we’re facing right now is gathering together a highly skilled workforce and then training new staff to grow with the demand,” he said.
In the next few years, Dailey says they will continue to grow through establishing dealers in under-penetrated markets and introducing a new to market boat.
“We are just about to build our 500th boat in five years and are about to introduce a new larger twin engine offshore boat to meet market demands,” he said. “This boat will be released in February of 2020 and will help take us to the next level. We also hope to grow our revenues at 10 to 20 percent each year for the next 5 years.”
Crevalle Boats Company Culture
Dailey says the company culture at Crevalle is built on inclusivity where everyone has a say in what happens.
“Everyone wears various “hats”, where we all pitch in to get the job done,” he said. “This means we all do whatever it takes to give our customers great satisfaction and experience.”
Work place camaraderie is important at Crevalle and they find it important to spend time together outside of work as well. They hold annual picnics, holiday parties among other things to make Crevalle a great place to work.
“Our culture is very family oriented,” he said. “We strive to provide a happy and healthy work environment.”
In fact, they understand how important the environment is for production and are one of the only 4 boat builders with an air-conditioned production floor.
Their commitment to their team members doesn’t go unappreciated, which was demonstrated when they had a small fire in their plant causing some significant water and smoke damage.
“The cleanup from this event showed us the incredible willingness of our employees to come together and quickly get production running again,” he said. “The majority of our employees just wanted to get back to boat building. They love it just as we do.”
Keeping a Competitive Edge
When it comes to their competitive edge, Dailey says it’s all about quality.
“Our competitive edge is our quality,” he said. “We use the very best materials and tools to produce the highest quality and performing bay boats on the market.”
While being a production facility, Crevalle Boats has successfully kept a semi-custom approach to boat building. This approach allows dealers and customers to order a boat combination that can be completely unique. To their advantage, they’ve found many of their buyers enjoy the opportunity to own a boat that’s unique to them, even compared to other Crevalle’s on the water.
“By staying committed to providing the best boat on the market, we give customers more than they expect, therefore, giving us a competitive advantage,” he said.
Innovations to be an Industry Leader
A portion of Crevalle’s success has been attributed to innovations like their reversible forward cushion backrests, dedicated safety storage and two integrated removable coolers. These innovations coupled with freeboard heights that allow for further offshore trips raised the bar of traditional Bay style boats.
They routinely partners with strategic vendors to develop and test new products and were one of the few boat builders to implement vacuum infusion to the 24 and 26-foot boat market.
They also partnered with Mister Comfort to develop a compact blower powered mister, allowing them to be the first to bring the new Information Display to market. Looking to the future, Crevalle plans to continue their growth and innovation with a 30-foot class boat in the very near future.
What it Means to be an Honoree
Crevalle Boats was selected as an honoree in this year’s top 50 second-stage companies in the state recognized by GrowFL. After two rounds of judging, the honorees are selected based on innovation, growth, community involvement and more.
Dailey says for him and his employees, it’s always great to get a recognition such as this.
“The honor is great! Our employees deserve as much as the recognition as we do. They put a lot of hard work and hours into these boats,” he said. “We cannot do what we do without them. They take pride in what they do, and that is why we can make the boats that way they are.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
When asked what advice he has for future entrepreneurs, Dailey’s advice was, “Being an entrepreneur is a lot of work but can be very rewarding. It is important to remember and plan the long-term plan,” he said. “No one can expect to get results over night. It was through a lot of hard work and tough times to get to where we are, and we have lot of work ahead. It is some of the hardest work and most rewarding as well.”
Notable Community Involvement
Crevalle Boats is heavily active in their community as members of the Sumter County Manufactures Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association and the American Boat and Yacht Council. Through the Sumter County Career and Adult Education program, they have created an internship program to bring new talent into the marine industry and have permanently hired two interns.
Other community contributions include Transitions Life Center Special Kids Classic, Methodist School Center, Florida Cattlemen’s association, Ocala Youth fair and the Coastal Conservation Association.