Suzuki Marine USA has opened a state-of-the-art technical center in Panama City, Florida. The 20-acre waterfront complex sits adjacent to Grand Lagoon and Robinson Bayou, and includes a 9,037-square-foot main building providing office space, conference rooms, technical/service bays, inside boat storage and other equipment. The center also includes additional buildings, a private launch ramp with docks, and a 300-foot-long protective seawall.
I had an opportunity to attend the grand opening event on May 17, 2023, that brought together staff from Suzuki’s Tampa, Florida, corporate headquarters, select dealers and boatbuilding partners, state and local dignitaries, and members of the boating press.
Among those in attendance were Mr. Shuichi Mishima, executive general manager of Marine Operations for Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan; State of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; and City of Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki. Following tours of the facility, I had the opportunity to take demonstration rides aboard a variety of Suzuki-powered boats and explore this unique property from the water.
“I want to thank Mayor Brudnicki, Bay Economic Development Alliance Chairman Ben Lee, Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm, and the many forward-thinking leaders who worked closely with us to bring this project to fruition,” said George “Gus” Blakely, Suzuki Marine Executive Vice President Sales & Service. “Thanks to hard work and cooperation between Suzuki Marine and government agencies, Panama City will henceforth be known as a leading source of marine industry innovation and an epicenter of new outboard motor development.”
The property was acquired and original plans for the Suzuki Marine Technical Center were announced in March 2020, at the start of what would become an extended Covid-19 pandemic. While this unprecedented world crisis created a wide range of challenges, issues and construction delays, Suzuki Marine kept its eye on the future and continued working to finish all the originally planned elements of the facility, said Blakely.
Activities at the technical center will include endurance testing and working with boat builders and 1,200 U.S. Suzuki dealers to create and refine the outboards of the future. “Although we’re based in Florida — the boating capital of the U.S. — we are also a Suzuki Technical Center for the world,” added Blakely.