Chaparral takes Georgia to the world - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chaparral takes Georgia to the world

October 26, 2006

Nashville -- Thirty years ago, Chaparral Boats started up production in Berrien County with fewer than two dozen employees. Today, the company is the largest employer in the county with more than one thousand workers.

And with annual revenue of about $300 million, Chaparral is the largest independent boat manufacturer in the world.

An industrial park at the edge of town is home to Chaparral Boats. "We have approximately 57 acres, almost a million square feet of manufacturing space," says Chaparral President Jim Lane.

On this site in Nashville, Georgia, seven thousand boats are built every year, from the smaller 18 footers to luxurious 35 foot cruisers. "We have a plant that makes interiors for the boats. Another plant that makes all of the small parts," says Lane. 

In fact, there are five plants here that turn out a boat every 18 minutes, all custom-made, all a water lover's dream. "It has sleeping for six, and it has all the amenities you would care to have for spending a night on a boat, even air conditioning and a generator if you're not anchored at the dock."

Are these are truly luxury items? "Well, now we don't think they're luxury. We think that all boats are necessities."

One thing that is a necessity is a good workforce. That's what attracted Chaparral and that's what's kept them here for three decades. "It's been a very good place for our company to expand," Lane said. "There's a great workforce and a good work ethic."

And it's paid off. Chaparral boats are now sold to just about every country in the world. "Two years ago we visited our dealer in Egypt, and he took us for a ride on the Nile on a Chaparral, and it was pretty impressive."

Impressive boats that have put this small South Georgia county on the map.

Jim Lane and Buck Pegg moved up here from South Florida 30 years ago. Their company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange as MPX, which stands for Marine Products Corporation.

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