Monday, June 10, 2013
In the little Kansas town of Neodesha a huge sign hangs over the entrance to the Cobalt plant: “Through these doors walk the best boatbuilders in the world.” Simple statement of a complex fact.
For owners of Cobalt boats the word “best” passes without contradiction. Those proud owners’ confident assurance of Cobalt quality begins in the handiwork of their boats’ builders. Key word: “builders”. Not producers. Not assembly-line workers. But builders – hands-on, personally engaged, personally responsible builders. Craftspeople with demonstrated skills, an uncompromising ethic of work, and self-imposed standards of individual accountability.
Cobalt is approaching fifty years of building boats in the classic tradition. We’re a throwback of sorts, a company of the insistent belief that the very best work is done by hand. Of course, we understand the role that the tools of a digital age can play in the production of boats of immediate service and enduring value. Machines can produce. They can produce just fine. And we take rich advantage of the accuracies, the exact replications, the measurements of performance that emerging technologies make possible.
But only a knowledgeable, caring human being can build.
So we persist in the daily pursuit of the unreachable -- the design, manufacture, and ongoing support of the perfect runabout, the ideal performance cruiser. With our dealers worldwide, we give our minds and hearts to the winning of the hearts and minds of our customers.
And the results are these, tangible and unforgettable in a summer that lasts like laughter: the escaping ooohs and inescapable wows of sudden movement, a welcome if unasked amnesia, the cares of a workaday world whisked away in a nanosecond of spray, land-locked worries gone in the laughing thump to the chest that defines a good, good day.
Build on, Neodesha.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Innovative Features | Tags: Boat Builders, Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats, Luxury Boat, Neodesha
Thursday, May 16, 2013
You there at the marina, you on the beach absorbing a welcome sun, confess your fascination with arches. Acknowledge the ooh-ah power of a marine arch, its implicit ability to turn heads and open jaws.
Of course, we feel the same sort of excitement upon first glimpse of our forward-facing arch. It’s proving a spectacular, spectacularly popular add-on, forward-facing, strong in use, and so very easy to fold afterward. And of course, Cobalt seeks to make the choosing easy, the new arch available on a wide variety of our boats, optional for BR Series models stretching from the 200 to the 262, standard on the 24 and 26SDWSS boats.
The engineered, so carefully planned benefit of the arch comes in the movement of the ski line to the boat’s highest point, at the top of the arch, where wakeboarders will find better pull all around, where beginning riders will find a much easier lift out of the water on those first, jittery, exhilarating seconds aboard a board. And tubers of the world, you will love . . . guaranteed . . . love being pulled from the tower because it makes for bigger air. The elation becomes yours, yours alone at the end of a rope leading to the best boats built in America. Indeed, in the world.
Good looking and then some, the arch adds adventurous style to, say, a 220, making it, for all the world to see, like a much larger craft. Bear in mind too that the arch brings along a bimini top as part of the package.
And it folds. It folds. Easily, down to windshield height where storage becomes a non-issue. It will fold for your nine-year-old daughter, and then tomorrow at full mast it will take on the most rigorous boarding, the most difficult passage through rough water with not a bounce in sight.
Of course, rock ‘n roll speakers and hold-tight board racks come along as additional options. Look forward now, please. Add an arch to the Cobalt cruising there in your boatly dreams.
Categories: Innovative Features | Tags: Boat Builders, Boat Dealers, Cobalt Boats, Watersports
Monday, May 06, 2013
One of the revolving headlines now on the Cobalt website invites you to an in-home showing of a new video entitled “Building Dreams.” We underscore that invitation again here, asking that you gather the family for an enjoyable look at all the reasons why this coming summer will stand among your very best ever. In Building Dreams the people behind these boats emerge from the plant in Neodesha to explain the ingredients of Cobalt value, from design rationales to raw materials to manufacturing processes to quality-control methodologies. A happy blend of the technical, the historical, and the merely gorgeous, “Building Dreams” will show how fiberglass and stainless steel and leather and glass gather toward the greatness of a Cobalt, how a fundamental passion for boating can lead to more than forty years of marine imagination, to thousands upon thousands upon thousands of happy hours on the water for successive generations of Cobalt owners.
Pack St. Clair, Cobalt’s founder and guiding light, introduces the video, and you’ll find in Pack’s easy warmth and quiet confidence the basis of Cobalt’s refusal to compromise on these boats’ design or construction. Cobalt’s second generation of leaders speak to the continuation of the founding principles to every Cobalt in succeeding model years, as the design and manufacturing principles of large yachts come to the building of small runabouts.
The video offers you a personalized walk-through, bow to stern, of the best boatbuilders in the world going about their daily responsibilities. From the lamination schedule of the fiberglass to the composite miracle that is the transom to the Kevlar at critical points of boatly strength, you’ll come away with a rich understanding of why your Cobalt, with proper care and maintenance of course, will perform through a lifetime of comfort and performance. Look for fulsome discussion of Cobalt’s bill of materials, the more than 2500 individual parts which constitute a finished Cobalt. Line by line, the insistence comes on quality, quality and, later, more quality still. A number of long-time Cobalt associates -- and they are legion, generations of entire families working together here – speak to their jobs, day to day, asking always “the Pack question.” “Would Pack St. Clair approve? Would he buy off on the job I’ve just completed?’
Listen from title to credits for echoes of the Golden Rule. It’s all so simple really: friends building boats for friends to sell to friends.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Videos | Tags: Boat Builders, Cobalt Boats, Family Boating, Lifestyle, Neodesha
Monday, April 29, 2013
We’ve discussed awards here before, the recognition that comes Cobalt’s way from time to time, and we report these awards with all appropriate humility. Whether from the marine industry for innovative design, or from J.D. Power and Associates for overall customer satisfaction, or from professional associations for the magnificent record of integrity and service compiled by our Cobalt dealers, these awards serve as a top-line reminder that we need to keep on keeping on. Fact is, each of the plaques and statuettes in our trophy case represents Cobalt’s refusal to move away from our founding principles. Fact is, we continue to operate on a business model not much different from, no less sophisticated than the Golden Rule itself.
One of our more recent recognitions comes from The Wichita Business Journal, the weekly chronicle of all things commercial and industrial in South Central Kansas, where Cobalt Boats was chosen one of the five winners of the newspaper’s Best in Business competition, which assessed the companies’ revenue growth, community involvement, product innovation, and marketing prowess. We quote a few statements from the article accompanying the announcement of Cobalt’s win.
“The corporate environment at Cobalt Boats in Neodesha can be felt even before you enter the building. Founder Pack St. Clair has strived to create a sense that no one job is more important than any other at the 45-year-old boat manufacturer. And it starts in the parking lot — where there is no assigned parking for any of the company’s 520 workers. ‘The first person in gets the best spot,” says CEO Paxson St. Clair. ‘That’s the attitude we have here. That culture that has been established here over the last 45 years has been the backbone of our success.’”
“Bill Wallisch, the company’s CFO, says, “If it’s not a quality product, it’s not going out.”
“I don’t think we could build Cobalt-quality products anywhere else (than Neodesha)” CEO Paxson St. Clair says. “This city has always been extremely supportive of us. It’s a great relationship.” That in turn helps Cobalt build great relationships with its customers, both existing and prospective.”
The best rules, like the best laws, are not particularly complicated. Thomas Jefferson said so. So do the people of Cobalt. Treat everyone alike: with kindness, respect, and a wide, wide-open sense of possibility.
All so very simple really.
And when the week’s work is done, when the last April boat has been built, the awards will take care of themselves.
Categories: Industry News, Lifestyle | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Luxury Boat
Friday, January 11, 2013
In the early part of this century, the already venerable J.D. Power & Associates, global market researchers, inaugurated their annual study of manufacturers in the marine industry. The studies came largely at the behest of Cobalt Boats and other top-tier manufacturers of various sorts of boats. We were interested in learning even more about the nuances of customer satisfaction and then responding with ever higher standards of design, craftsmanship, and service after the sale of the boat.
There was an industry wide goal to enhance the performance of an entire industry. The result was a runaway leader that produced results year after year. Cobalt Boats was ranked “highest in customer satisfaction” in every single year of the J.D. Power study, which – unfortunately for Cobalt – no longer exists in the stern drive industry. But it’s good to know that you still have an ideal means of comparing the features, benefits, potential for long-term enjoyment, and value unto perpetuity of boats you’re considering for purchase.
We speak, of course, of boat shows. Whose peak season is just now underway.
At a show near you, you’ll find everywhere opportunity for first-hand contrast of models competing for your discretionary dollars. All of us at Cobalt welcome your most rigorous inspection of the details of Cobalt quality, under the warm and friendly guidance of some folks who know next to everything about these boats. At a boat show you’ll meet both your local dealer and, in most cases, some members of the Cobalt factory team.
Cobalt remains a family business, and that irreplaceable kind of personal interaction with customers will soon be obvious to you after a half-hour’s conversation inside a bowrider parked on a carpeted boat show floor. No survey, no video, no brochure could hope to duplicate the exchange of information that comes in a quiet, one-on-one discussion of your needs and wishes for the boat of your warm-weather dreams. Your personal boating consultant exists in the form of a factory trained Cobalt Expert.
Plan to attend a boat show in the next few weeks, even if you’re not planning on buying right away. Watch the Cobalt Video called Building Dreams to further your confidence that Cobalt is the right company to earn your trust.
Friendships never happen on a schedule anyway.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Videos | Tags: Boat Builders, Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Luxury Boat, Neodesha
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In our Cobalts we go down to the water to encounter it straightforwardly, with no expectations beyond the time and the place. We go boating with uncomplicated joy.
In this frozen time of the year when for many of us a leisurely holiday cruise with family and a few old friends is meteorologically impossible, we invite you to pause at water’s edge, to look back into the remote and rarefied places where we launch our Cobalts. Most of us live among architecture, among structures capable of both rampant functionality and – sometimes – rare beauty, but still far from those untouched and inviolate, vacation places.
And so we ought to enjoy each other wherever we find ourselves this blessed season. Let’s walk among the architecture of our December circumstances. Let’s stroll the old roads, meandering long enough to find a new way to other times, other places. Those times have a head start on us, and the architecture of the old familiar places may have changed a bit.
But the doors at home are lockless. And, if we look long enough, a light shines from every window.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Cobalt Boats.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Builders, Cobalt Boats, Family Boating, Luxury Boat
Monday, November 12, 2012
Legendary Marine of Destin, Florida was named Dealer of the Year for its rapid growth and thoughtful investments in marketing, education, and service. This accomplishment marks the first time that a Cobalt dealer has been recognized at the top Position in the Top 100.
In addition, Cobalt dealers were recognized throughout the night, partially due to the massive increases in market share and sales growth that Cobalt dealers have experienced. Action Water Sports won special recognition for its website, ranked best among all North American dealerships, as did Parks Marina of Okoboji, Iowa for the quality of its customer events. Gordy’s Lakefront Marine of Fontana, Wisconsin saw its all-important service department named the very best in North America.
Cobalt Boats congratulates these outstanding businesses for their allegiance to the highest standards of integrity, knowledge of product, and willingness to go above and beyond in the service of ever more sophisticated customers. Altogether, Cobalt dealerships accounted for a full twenty percent of the Top 100. Listed below are the Cobalt Dealerships recognized as Top 100 Dealers.
Categories: Dealer Partners, Industry News | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats
Friday, November 09, 2012
On the last weekend in October the Cobalt 336 said, “Hello, world.”
The introduction came at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show on its fifty-third iteration. The show has become a cultural phenomenon representative of the Good Life in America with displays of apparel, electronics, fishing and diving equipment, jewelry, hats and caps, vacation destinations, exotic automobiles and, yes, artwork and real estate. The show spreads over three million square feet of exhibit pace with a transportation network of bus shuttles, water taxis, and riverboats.
Easy to get lost amid all the hoopla, we suppose, easy to lose one’s marine identity among the runabouts, sportfishers, high performance boats, center consoles, cabin cruisers, flats boats, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bowriders, catamarans, ski boats, jet boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, and Trumpesque superyachts. No problem for the 336 though, at anchor here among the planet’s various non-military floatables, no problem whatsoever. Because the 336 will mean so many different things to so many different owners, we saw the 336 assert itself in south Florida.
The 336 is, by turns, a cruiser, a bowrider, a dayboat, an overnighter, a well-mannered sportboat, and a flat-out jacked go-fast chest-thumper. Such diverse, entirely accurate describers come about because of the usual Cobalt abstractions, the qualities of design and construction that transform a boat into a very personalized dream machine. We speak of luxury and comfort and convenience and handling and ride and spaciousness and style and power. And, of course, these constructs arise from the details – the leathers of the cabin, the stainless arch and hardtop (optional), the panoramic side windows, the stainless steel of the windshield, a cabin at once snug and expansive, a sofa nine feet long, the heating and air-conditioning systems, the joystick controls, the shower seat in an enormous head compartment, the 27” LCD HD television and Blu-Ray player – all set in layback-and-loll room for a dozen old friends.
Some of the waves around the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show were man-made, and the new Cobalt 336 was responsible for more than its share.
You would have been proud.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Innovative Features | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Cruiser, Cuddy , Luxury Boat, New Boat
Friday, October 19, 2012
I think you’ll find this to be an unusual (but interesting) letter from a hard-core Cobalt owner raving about a model that is no longer in the Cobalt line-up: the 343.
I’ve always been an avid high-performance boater and have owned most of the usual suspects over the years when it comes to high performance off-shore boating (whole thoroughly enjoying my Cobalt’s – 293, etc. – for luxury boating on inland lakes). One question has always haunted me when it comes to boat designs: why do I have to give up so much in luxury, handling, and ride just to go fast? I get the whole weight vs. power thing, but as an engineer by background; I just had to believe that someone could solve that equation in a more balanced fashion than had been delivered to date. Enter the Cobalt 343 – a truly “stealth” solution to the problem I spoke of. My personal opinion is that the 343 was a great platform that was much more capable than most understood (or gave it credit for). And, it had all of the basic ingredients from the factory to begin to satisfy the luxury AND speed-minded owner (a little light on the original power choices but I’ll get to that in a moment).
When it was announced, I jumped at the chance to be on of the first 343 owners and George M. at the factory helped me spec out and build a fully loaded ’05 with basically every option box checked, including generator and air/heat (no speed top). Obviously, this boat is not a lightweight contender. When it left Neodesha, it was equipped with the top-end Mercury racing big blocks available at the time. It only took one shakedown ride to discover the phenomenal engineering done on creating the hull. It possessed the legendary Cobalt rode, carved incredibly in the turns, and had none of the normal idiosyncrasies typical of stepped hulls (skipping or skating in turns, etc.). To this day, other boating friends of mine are still amazed by this wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is truly the ultimate performance “sleeper” and now can run at GPS verified speeds that are (in their words) “amazing”. That statement sort of brings us to part two of the story.
With the expiration of my warranty, I decided to do a little “experimenting” in the power department. I’ve always found the best results by turning to the best people for help, so I turned to the proven marine power-making leaders: Mike D’Annibelle and the Sterling Performance guys in Michigan (my 343 sits on a lake in Ohio). His marching orders were simple: build me a couple of nasty blown on big blocks that make a ton of horsepower, but in a dependable, conservative EFI configuration that makes them very easy to love with on 91 octane. Now I had the pure grunt to do what I wanted to, but as you well know at Cobalt, there’s much more to do on getting the power to the water in the most efficient manner. Enter the second partner on this innovation: Art Cook of Art Cook Marine in Detroit, Michigan. Art has partnered with Sterling on many a hot-boat, and has a library of “little secrets” that go far beyond the typical speed parts catalogue approach to going fast.
Mike and Art took the challenge to heart and they personally propped, rigged, and massaged the 343 to a level that is an incredible blend of power and luxury. By their own admission, they were absolutely amazed at what it delivered. The result: a 343 that will tickle triple digits (GPS certified) at 6000 rpm with custom lab-finished BBlades props – and a hull that is just as confortable there as it is at 60 mph! And I still have all the luxury and legendary Cobalt attributes (including generator and A/C)! I have seen a few folks mess with alternate power in their 343’s, but to my knowledge no one else has engineered the complete combination that really put’s it directly in performance contention with a bunch of other hot-boat brands and models. We love to watch the expression on people’s faces as we pull away from they when they’re already at WOT – particularly on rough water when we’re riding like it’s a dead-calm in the Cobalt!
Jon J. Ricker
Well, there you have it. A fairly short story from a long time Cobalt fan and customer that continues to love our Cobalt’s (I’m thinking about getting one of the WSS-series boats for my oldest son). If there is ever a Cobalt model in the future that is a “next generation” to the 343, you can again put my name on one of the first hulls. Thanks again for your dedication in keeping the Cobalt name (and everything it stands for) consistent decade after decade.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Cuddy , Lifestyle, Luxury Boat
Friday, October 12, 2012
My oldest friend died last week. And I have become thoughtful. About things that last and those that do not. I’m old, and my examples of life’s swift passing reflect my age. You youngsters out there, please substitute appropriately.
Now, Cobalt owners and those of you who would soon like to become such, look at your boat. Look there. And there. And over here. And here. And recognize again that genuine style operates outside of Time. Look at your Cobalt: its classic lines, its amenities, its so carefully chosen comforts, the technology that underlies every inch of its hull, the elegant simplicity of its profile, its effortless grace at cruise and anchor alike.
Mood rings and pet rocks have come and gone, and we all must continue to pray that neither earth shoes nor disco balls ever, ever return. You know, Cobalt design has not once admitted a passing whim, a fad of the moment. We build boats in long traditions of craftsmanship which in Neodesha, Kansas have come to stay.
I think of my old friend with his Beatle bangs and his bell-bottom jeans. And then I see him again, on his Harley, the bike he had bought two months before he died. And on his boat, his Cobalt another American icon, a throwback to a simpler time. A time when dreams seemed as real and attainable as the malt shop down on Main Street’s red bricks, when the latest pop record spun at 45 revolutions per minute. I think now that my old bud wanted his Cobalt 202 just for its looks, for its classic three-color graphics, glorious and unfading, beautiful today and tomorrow, just like Betty Lou in that summer we all did the Twist.
I’ll miss him, and those long, slow cruises into a summer sunset that, we thought, would not ever end.
Thanks to John Brown for contributing.
Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle
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