Merrill-Stevens Facility Opens as Spencer Boat Co.

16 March 2010 By Lauren Beck

After 124 years of operation, the Merrill-Stevens boat yard came close to shutting its doors in December, which would have dealt a huge blow to the South Florida yachting industry. But, before the doors slammed shut forever, former Merrill-Stevens superintendent John Spencer stepped in. His company, Spencer Boat Co., now operates from the Merrill-Stevens facility on the Miami River in Florida.

Spencer, who worked for Merrill-Stevens for five years before its massive layoff in December, now leases the yard from owner Hugh Westbrook.

“I don’t quit – I didn’t want to see it just die. It would be a shame to see the facilities go to waste and there was a workforce ready and able to go to work. It was a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together. I decided to do it,” he says.

The facility is now fully operational, Spencer claims – he’s managed to hire back 18 employees and currently is working two big jobs on a 171-footer and a 165-footer in the yard. The 24-hour security is up and running and capabilities are growing.

“The response from the industry has been overwhelming,” Spencer says, “and to be able to bring back people is very rewarding.”

And big things are still on the horizon for Spencer – “My goal is to double the number of employees by the end of the year,” he says.