by Thom Burns
The enthusiastic new owners of White Bear Boat Works, Jason and Angie Brown
Jason and Angie Brown and four key employees operate the new White Bear Boat Works. The new company represents the nonmanufacturing pieces of the venerable one hundred year old Johnson Boat Works. Third generation owner Skip Johnson sold the three non-scow boat lines to Catalina Yachts in late spring. Last month he accepted the bid of Melges Boat Works, Zenda, Wisconsin for the scow boat lines. This effectively removed Johnson Boat Works from the manufacture of sailboats after one hundred years.
Jason Brown, stepson to Skip and son of Marge Johnson, worked in every department of the old Johnson Boat Works since he was a young boy. Hes managed the Johnson Boat Works for the past twelve years. His wife Angie has been with the company for twelve years and managed the office for the past eight years.
The enthusiastic new owners of White Bear Boat Works, Jason and Angie Brown, retain the retail boat lines of Catalina, Capri, the Collegiate 420, FJ and Johnson 18. They also have the ships store, extensive service and fiberglass repair facilities, fiberglass dock and trailer boxes, rigging, retrofitting, brokerage, storage and sail repair. "Were doing everything except molding boats," noted Jason.
Several key former Johnson Boat Works employees including fiberglass foreman, Bob Parks, a twenty-seven year veteran, machinist, Mike Parks, a fifteen year veteran, mast rigger John Faye, a 13 year veteran, and sales manager, John Peterson are onboard with the new company. "This is the nucleus needed for a strong fiberglass repair, rigging and retrofitting team," according to Jason. "Weve turned away more repair business over the years than you would believe because we always seemed to be on deadline molding boats."
The scow lines have been stagnant or in decline for several years according to Skip Johnson. "We always seemed to pull another product out of the hat which is why we got into the Collegiate 420, the FJ and the Johnson 18. The reality is that either Melges Boat Works or Johnson Boat Works could have built all the scows the market demanded. To turn over declining product lines located on such expensive property to the next generation is not doing them any favors. If Johnson Boat Works was to get out of the scow business which my grandfather started, let it be me who made the decision," noted Skip. The property located prominently along White Bear Lake is for sale.
Jason and Angie will keep the new company located in the old Johnson Boat Works facility for the time being. They intend to locate their company in White Bear regardless of the fate of the current property.
"The phones have been ringing off the hook from loyal customers, well-wishers and several liquidation inquiries. I hope this sets things in perspective. We are here to stay and focus on what we do best," said Jason.
For further info on White Bear Boat Works: 612-429-7221.
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