Running flat out and grateful for it—that’s the best way to describe the crew at Deep Impact Boats, the Miami builders of custom high-performance outboard-engine-powered center console models. In January the company moved into its new 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which is twice the size as the builder’s old digs. A couple of months before that—while the company was in midst of preparing to make the move—the builder unveiled its first 39-footer at the 2011 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Throughout the summer, the builder never missed a production beat and kept “hammering away,” in the words of Deep Impact sales and marketing director Tim Gallagher, at building existing products while continuing to develop new models.
“Too much to do and not enough time, but I’m not complaining,” says Gallagher, who joined Deep Impact several years ago after a long tenure with Cigarette Racing Team. “We are finishing up the new 33 LS, which is a new deck design for our 33 that is more family friendly and yacht tender friendly. The molds are finished and we are laying up the new parts. The first boat will be built here before long in time for the 2012 Fort Lauderdale show. The cabin version of our 39 is in the tooling stage. And in the middle of all that, we’re continuing production of the rest of our boats. We have boats going all over the world—Russia, Singapore, Africa, Qatar—as well the States. We just sent one 36 to New Jersey, and another one to Boston. We are running at 110 percent.”
That the Boston customer’s last boat was a 51-foot Outerlimits high-performance boat and the New Jersey customer “came out of” a 38-foot Cigarette Top Gun is particularly relevant to Gallagher and the rest of the crew at Deep Impact. The growing number of high-performance powerboat owners moving out of their serious go-fast rides and into “performance-oriented” center consoles has had driven business to Deep Impact.
Gallagher sees the trend as a move among members of the go-fast boat crowd toward boats with more versatility and functionality, but without a total loss of go-fast boat performance—all Deep Impact offerings ride on stepped hulls—and styling.
“They’re looking for a more user-friendly boat that can actually do more than their high-performance boat,” Gallagher explains. “They want a boat that can carry more passengers and requires less maintenance. But they don’t want to give up performance, either. That’s why we're so successful with those buyers. It’s like they’re going from an Outerlimits to a Jupiter (center console). A guy doesn’t feel so left out when he trades his 100-mph boat for a 70-mph boat.”
The yacht tender market also strongly drives Deep Impact’s business, which at present means 25 boats a year. The builder’s most popular models are its 36- and 39-footers. As such, they are typically too large to be placed on most yachts and need to be pulled behind the larger vessel—even the owner of 200-foot Ferretti tows his 39-footer, according to Gallagher.
“The boat that went to Singapore—a 39 Open—is going there as a tender,” says Gallagher. “The tender market has been huge for us.”
To that end, Deep Impact is creating a tender-specific wraparound seating configuration and several T-top options for its 33-footer. The goal, says Gallagher, is to make boarding and debarking between the yacht and its tender easier, and the smaller, lower T-top will enable to storage of the 33 within larger yachts that have the capacity.
While the fishing segment of the market—the big draw for center console builders—is important to Deep Impact, it is not the builder’s primary focus. The company does offer angling-specific models for buyers who want them, but its primary focus is on performance-oriented buyers who want something for all-around use.
“We still deal with fishing—we still have our Monster Energy fishing guys out there, and we still have the TE (Tournament Edition) line,” says Gallagher. “But what we do is not the norm for the center console fishing market. We don’t build cookie-cutter boats and sell off as many as we can. We leave that market to other builders who are better at it. They can have it.”
To help Deep Impact manage its existing business, Gallagher and company owner Lazaro Hernandez recently brought in two industry veterans: Steven Koss will serve as plant operations manager and Orlando Santos will take on the role of purchasing manager.
“Orlando was at Cigarette for 27 years—I worked with him when I was there,” says Gallagher. “Steve has more than 20 years of boat building experience. They are both great assets to our company, and we need them. They can help right away.”
“We’ve been fortunate to have good volume of orders for our existing boats,” he adds. “And we’re always working on new models to keep things exciting.”
- Matt Trulio