Thursday, May 07, 2015

'Keeper of the Culture'

 






















Pack St. Clair launched Cobalt Boats in 1968 in an unlikely locale: landlocked rural Kansas.

If you had no experience building fiberglass boats and wanted to start a company, where would you go? Michigan? Good idea. Florida? Another fine choice. Texas or North Carolina? Sure. Kansas? Eh, maybe not.

And would you pick a landlocked area several miles from any lake large enough for boating? Well, young, entrepreneurial Pack St. Clair, a Kansas native who grew up in the small town of Independence in the southeastern part of the state, did just that in 1968 at the age of 28. And his company, Cobalt Boats, now in Neodesha, Kan., (population 2,500) has grown into a very successful business that produces high-quality, award-winning boats.

I used to see St. Clair over the years at International Marine Trades Exhibit & Conference shows and NMMA conferences, and we have known each other for a long time. He was one of the first board members of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, along with such industry notables as Eddie Smith, Dave Parker and others. He also was the third chairman of the NMMA.

Independence has a population of 10,000 and is just 13 miles from Neodesha. Both towns are basically farm communities.

“My dad was a lumber salesman, calling on lumber dealers all over southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri,” St. Clair says. “He was still calling on dealers when he was 85 but then had to stop only because he was getting macular degeneration. He lived to be 97.”

St. Clair apparently inherited his father’s determination.

St. Clair says he’d be hard-pressed to find a crew with the work ethic and pride of his 700 employees.

Learning about fiberglass

Boating has always been a St. Clair family passion. “As a kid,” St. Clair says, “I grew up boating. My dad bought a 14-foot Lone Star boat with a 35-hp Evinrude. We boated almost every lake in Kansas, and then we came down to boat on the Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma. I wanted to put a new Evinrude V engine on the boat, but it wouldn’t handle it. So we got a used inboard boat to water-ski with.”

St. Clair went to the University of Kansas, where he was an end on the football team. “After graduation from college I worked in the lumber business for a couple of years, doing what my dad did — covering a territory in northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska,” he says. “But I decided I really wanted to do something on my own and not work for someone else. So I left the lumber business.

“My next-door neighbor and I started a little company making giant slides 12 lanes wide and 40 feet high. People would sit on a burlap bag and slide down, but the slides turned out to be fairly dangerous if kids didn’t do it right. Our insurance company suggested we get out of that business and do something different. We had been making the fiberglass portion of the slides and contracting out the steel parts. And we also made a few other recreational things out of fiberglass. As a result, we gained some knowledge about making things out of fiberglass.”

When the insurance company said in 1967 that St. Clair and his partner needed to make something other than the slides, Pack said, “Well, we’ll just make boats.” And they did.

“We copied some boats.” St. Clair says. “Donzi was just getting into business and was making pretty snazzy boats, so we copied some of those. Then we had a boat designer design a 16- and 18-foot tri-hull for us. At that time these were our only boats that were of our design. Then we bought some tooling from a company in Dallas named Tem Craft that had gone out of business. They had a little 15-foot outboard bowrider, so we made a few of those.

“We had introduced our boats in 1968, and I had been traveling around the country trying to sell boats. Then I bought a Dun & Bradstreet service that provided me with a file card on every dealer they had listed in America. I put that in the front seat of my car and would take off on Monday, and I might show up at home again the next month. I traveled the whole country. I had a double-deck trailer with a couple of our boats on it that I pulled behind my car. I signed a few dealers, but I was really looking forward to going to the 1969 IMTEC because I had heard that is where dealers came to buy new lines.

“This was our first chance to see the whole industry. So we took our conglomeration of boats to the show in Chicago. The show was out at the Chicago stockyards, as this was the year that McCormick Place burned. So that is where we showed Cobalt Boats to the world, and nobody had heard of us for the most part.”

Laughing, he says, “To say that we were unsuccessful would be an understatement because we didn’t sell a single boat or sign a single dealer.”

The ‘dumbest’ name

IMTEC was an eye-opening experience for St. Clair. He saw a lot of large boat companies, such as Glastron, Sea Ray and even Outboard Marine Corp., which were making midpriced boats. He realized that to survive he had to go where they weren’t. He had to find a niche market.

“We came home from IMTEC and really scrapped this whole line of boats that we had copied, except for the two tri-hulls that were of our design,” St. Clair says. “So we started all over again. We had spent all our money and all that our partner had invested. And at this point my partner said, ‘I think I have had all the fun in the boat business that I want.’ So I bought him out and got an SBA loan and started over with a new partner, Dan Bramhall, who was at the time our fiberglass expert.”

St. Clair’s first boats were built in Chanute, Kan., and were named Kustom Craft. A couple of months before he went to his first IMTEC show, he tried to register that name. His lawyer said he couldn’t use the name because a company in the industry had already registered it.

So St. Clair called the printer who was just about to print his very first brochure and said he had to change the name. “How much time do I have to get a new name for the brochure?” St. Clair asked.

The printer said he needed the new name by noon that day to deliver the brochures in time for the show in Chicago. “I hung up the phone and didn’t think about a new name for more than about 5 or 10 minutes,” St. Clair says. “I called the printer back and told them the new name was going to be Cobalt.

“I had heard the name Cobalt because it was the promoter that is in the resins that we use that interacts with the catalyst that causes the resin to cure and get hard. I have liked the name, so that is what I chose. I went home that night and told my wife, Jill, that I had changed the name of the company. She said, ‘What is it?’ I told her it would be called Cobalt Marine. She said, ‘That is the dumbest name I have ever heard. That’s what they treat cancer with.’ I told her it was too late to change it. And it turned out to be a really good name. It has a nice ring to it and is easy to remember.”

Finding dealers

“That first IMTEC show was a pretty humbling experience,” St. Clair says. “We had some of our boats inside the hall and some outside. The boat we had outside was a 23-foot cuddy cabin. We were cleaning the boat in preparation for the show, and when I opened up our cuddy cabin, I saw that the headliner had fallen off during the trip to Chicago. We had used some shag carpet for the headliner and probably used the wrong kind of glue. I saw that I could push it back in place, and it would stay there for maybe five minutes. My wife, Jill, who was looking forward to shopping along Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop, actually spent the entire four days of the show sitting inside that boat. I stood outside the boat, and as I saw people coming over to look at it, I would bump the outside of the hull and Jill would put the headliner back up and it would stay for a few minutes.”

When they returned home, St. Clair and his team started their new concept.

“We moved from Chanute to Neodesha,” he says. “Neodesha gave us a building if we would move the plant there. So with our SBA loan we started building just two new boats. But we made sure that they were the very best there were, high-quality and the most expensive. We finished the first new top-of-the-line boat just before Christmas that year.”

St. Clair had heard about the San Francisco Boat Show at the Cow Palace. (I worked that show for OMC for several years, and it was excellent.) At that time, St. Clair says, Cobalt’s only California dealer was in Fullerton.

“I took our first new-generation, high-end, expensive and pretty boat out there,” St. Clair says. “I wanted to see if I could get a dealer there and hopefully get to display the boat in the Cow Palace show. I called on every dealer in San Francisco before the show, but couldn’t get one to take the line. Then I called on all the dealers in areas surrounding San Francisco but still didn’t get a dealer. Most of them said, ‘Son, I like your boat, but you are just too expensive.’ So at that point I was beginning to question my new concept of building top-end boats.”

Then St. Clair learned he couldn’t get his boat into the Cow Palace to display it at the show. Still determined, he made a deal with a Mobil station across the street from the arena. He parked his boat there, close to the sidewalk, and worked the 10-day show from that spot.

“I talked to lots of people as they went by and handed out a lot of brochures,” he says. “And I asked each of them to tell dealers as they walked the show that there was a really nice boat outside by the Mobil gas station. And a few dealers did come out and look at the boat toward the end of the show. Fortunately, one of them was Frank Warren of the San Ramon Boat Center. He became a dealer and has been with us now for 45 years.

“We have a lot of dealers that I signed up in those early years that are still with us. I think much of our success has been getting a lot of dealers over the years that weren’t always the biggest in their markets, but are better financed and overall more solid. Also, we have always picked dealers that offer good service. And we don’t jump around changing dealers. A lot of times, when things are tough, it is really tempting for boatbuilders to go down that road when the current dealer is stocked up with boats. But we don’t do that. Over the years, we have stuck with our dealers, and we have not tried to get into fishing boats, cheaper boats, sailboats, etc. We have stayed with our niche market. And our dealers continue to be one of our biggest assets.”

A proud Kansan

Since those early years, Cobalt has continued to grow and increase market share and has won numerous awards, including several from J.D. Power and Associates. Cobalt has 700 employees, and many are from the local farm communities.

“The other big asset we have is our employees,” St. Clair says. “We have several second and third generations working at Cobalt.”

St. Clair’s son Paxson joined the company in 1989 and became CEO in 2007. “Paxson is doing such a good job running the company now that I do my best to stay out of his hair,” St. Clair says with a laugh. “Sean Callan, my son-in-law, is president and runs production and engineering. He is also key in the organization.”

Says Paxson St. Clair: “I travel to a lot of boat shows around the country. Folks that I meet at shows think I am kidding when I tell them we build our boats in Kansas. We could not build our boats anywhere else because of the people who work at Cobalt. We don’t believe that their work ethic and the pride they have in doing the best job possible can be duplicated anywhere else in the world. We have second- and third-generation people working here at Cobalt. As we say on our website, ‘We never aimed to be the biggest boat company, just the best.’ ”

Innovation has continued at Cobalt with the successful introduction of the company’s first pontoon boat, the Marker One, at a dealer meeting in September.

“We recognize that the pontoon market has been growing and felt there would be a market for a Cobalt pontoon with yacht quality,” Paxson says. “Our Marker One pontoon boats feature a hull design that utilizes the finest grade of materials, higher-gauge aluminum, skilled craftsmanship in the construction and a unique grid system establishing the foundation. Our Marker One hulls are bolted through a structural stringer system, which seamlessly integrates the ‘wood-free’ fiberglass deck to the hulls themselves, a fiberglass liner with UL-approved diamond nonskid, non-slip surface. We have had an enthusiastic reaction to the Marker One from our dealers and consumers.”

Making Cobalt wine

Pack St. Clair’s entrepreneurial spirit did not stop with Cobalt Boats. He has always had a strong interest in wine and decided to create a Cobalt wine.

“I have been a wine enthusiast for a long time,” he says. “I got introduced to Napa Valley through some friends. Jill and I have always enjoyed going out there and enjoying the wine. One of the wines I have always liked was from a particular company up on Spring Mountain called Sherwin Family Vineyards. Steve Sherwin got to be a personal friend. I told Steve I would love to make a high-end cabernet sauvignon wine and call it Cobalt wine. After a few years, Steve called me one day and said, ‘There are some grapes that are available here on several acres adjoining our vineyard.’ So I made a deal and bought the grapes off that property, and Steve picks them and does the fermentation and aging. My only involvement is in the blending. Steve does the rest.

“We have gotten some great ratings for our Cobalt wine,” St. Clair adds. “Our first vintage was 2005. … Our wine bottles have a Cobalt logo on the front.”

St. Clair now makes his home in Lawrence Kan., where he graduated from the University of Kansas. He spends most of the year there and enjoys going to the university’s football and basketball games. In the summer he and his wife travel often to a home they have at Grand Lake of the Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma near the Kansas and Missouri borders. This is the lake where his father often took the family boating as Pack was growing up. He drives to the plant about once a week.

“When I come to the plant each week, I like to spend all my time out in the plant,” he says. “I think my title today would be, ‘Keeper of the culture of Cobalt.’ ”

And the culture of Cobalt and of Cobalt Boats is unquestionably as good as you can get. n

Ben Sherwood, a 50-year veteran of the marine industry, was head of sales and marketing at Evinrude and Johnson for several years during his career at Outboard Marine Corp. After retiring from OMC, he was a marine trade magazine columnist for 18 years and a consultant in the industry. He wrote the book “How to Succeed in Marine Retailing.” He can be reached at ben@bensherwood.net.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue.


 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Dealer Partners, Industry News, Lifestyle | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Builders, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats, Family Boating, Lifestyle, Luxury Boat, Neodesha


Monday, July 01, 2013

Cobalt’s Water Sports Series

 

In these days of endless sun and perpetual youth, the water holds a particular attraction for the athletic and the less-inhibited among us.  Cobalt’s Water Sports Series (WSS) boats have been built for friends and families who enjoy each other at speed, in the air, occasionally upside-down.

In addition to all the expected, all the traditional advantages of Cobalt design and manufacture – raw power, quickness to plane,  and stability in the turns, for example – the WSS boats bring along some special features sure to catch the practiced eye of  marine athletes and the good-hearted people who pull them around.

Let’s begin with the unglamorous but utterly necessary: Cobalt wakeboard racks from industry pioneer Roswell stash up to four boards safely up, up and out of the way, preserving precious interior storage space. Proven Roswell design meshes maximized functionality with clean chromed lines in a package at once fashionable and efficient. Look for cast-aluminum tines machined to exceptionally close tolerances with a reinforcing backing plate and protective rubber gaskets mechanically positioned, all to ensure lifetime strength, lifetime ease of use.  A three-position swivel comes standard on all Cobalt racks for convenient loading and unloading of boards – no damaging drops, no more leaning out over the gunnels to retrieve a board.

Okay.  Time to jump up and down.  Here comes the ski tower, ready to deliver the vertical lift necessary for airborne antics. Made of superstrong stainless-steel tubing (2” O.D.) all around – no aluminum whatsoever, the tower rises from backing plates structurally embedded in the fiberglass for rugged, durable, failsafe mounting. Welded grab handles emerge on each side. A bimini top creates generous headroom under a fully protective sunshade.

Let the acrobatics begin.

Accurate and consistent in its performance, easy and straightforward in its use, the Wakeboard Pro cruise control from PerfectPass helps even inexperienced drivers deliver smooth, predictable, essentially perfect rides to skiers and boarders. The Wakeboard Pro makes water sports more enjoyable, and simply so: just by preselecting a speed on the in-dash display and pulling the rider up as usual.  At the chosen speed, the Wakeboard Pro takes firm, precise control.

And get this!

A personalized screen shows riders’ names and preferred speeds, in addition to all the expected data from a digital speedometer and tach.

And up, down, and all around the WSS boats mean that famous Cobalt ride.

Do we hear applause astern?

 

  Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Watersports | Tags: Bowrider, Family Boating, Lifestyle, Wakeboard, Watersports


Monday, June 10, 2013

Build on, Neodesha.

 

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

Add An Arch To Your Cobalt Dreams

 

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

This Is The Summer Of Building Dreams

 

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

The First Person In Gets The Best Spot

 

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.

  • Look for the good in others.
  • Do your best. Day in. Day out.
  • Be true to your friends.
  • Love your family. 

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

Committed To Building Dreams

 

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

May Your Days be Merry and Bright

 

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.

Seasons Greetings from everyone at Cobalt

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

Cobalt Dealers Dominate Boating Industry’s Top 100 Boat Dealers in North America

 

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.

  • Action Water Sports, Hudsonville, Mich.
  • The Boat Shop, Tafton, Pa.
  • Boat Town, Austin, Texas
  • Candlewood East Marina, Brookfield, Conn.
  • Causeway Marine, Manahawkin, N.J.
  • Cleveland Boat Center, Cleveland, Tenn.
  • Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, Fontana, Wisc.
  • Hagadone Marine Group, Couer d’Alene, Idaho
  • Hoffmaster’s Marina, Woodbridge, Va.
  • Lake Viking Marine, Gallatin, Mo.
  • Legendary Marine, Destin, Fla.
  • Lodder’s Marine, Fairfield, Ohio
  • Marine Sales of Pickwick, Counce, Tenn.
  • Paris Marine, Peterborough, Ontario
  • Parks Marina, Okoboji, Iowa
  • Rambo Marine, Hazel Green, Ala.
  • Rayburns Marine World, Kelowna, British Columbia
  • Seattle Boat Company, Seattle
  • Singleton Marine Group, Buford, Ga.
  • Strong’s Marine, Mattituck, N.Y.


 

  Categories: Dealer Partners, Industry News | Tags: Award Winning Boat, Boat Dealers, Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats


Friday, November 09, 2012

The Cobalt 336 Introduces Itself To The World

 

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


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