Old-Fashioned American Muscle
Still, a concept truly becomes reality for a consumer only on the assembly line, where blue-collar workers lay up hulls, fabricate countless smaller components and then literally start to assemble the puzzle, piece by piece, in full-scale production.
Quality builders not only closely monitor the process but also constantly try to improve upon it. Regal’s technicians are routinely exposed to new methodologies to make their efforts more productive.
“We’re constantly coaching and educating them on lean manufacturing, and what we need to do as a company in the long term,” explains Andre Rakofsky, Regal’s senior team leader for yacht assembly. “When they understand that, when they play a role, they feel good about what they’re doing.”
Regal enforces the same workmanship standards for a 22-foot runabout as it does for a 50-foot yacht. A worker with significant tenure often applies those standards; many count 20-plus years with the company. “It’s easy to tell somebody they’ve got to work faster,” Rakofsky says. “But when you actually show them a way to do it better, why we need to try to do it that way, and then they buy into it, the effects just multiply.”
Motivating employees is a trait shared by Cobalt. Here, a monthly bonus program appeals not only to a worker’s pride but also his wallet. It’s based on profit, a bottom line that’s reduced by warranty claims. “If a boat is the best quality it can be when it leaves, it’s probably not going to come back on a warranty claim,” explains Tony Altis, supervisor of small-boat assembly. “That means that’s more money in our pocket.”
Altis says that Cobalt workers aren’t pressured to produce. Instead, they’re told the company’s primary expectation is that they simply do their best with what they’re handed that day. Cobalt employees also take natural pride in the brand’s reputation. Though the company has a dedicated quality control department, builders are told they too are an integral part of the process. “Just about everybody who touches the boat can tell you if it’s up to quality or not,” Altis explains.
Maintaining that reputation is hard work, but worth it. “It may be twice as hard as some other companies,” Altis says, “but when I go home at night I know that we’re still the best at what we’re doing.