Building more boats
“We're going into the business of mass-producing Endeavour models,” jokes White Pointer Boats owner Rex Briant.
He is proud of the two 200kg aluminium Endeavour models built by his team and is keen to see them erected. Meanwhile, though, demand for regular boats — and new designs — has increased since the Business Quarterly last covered White Pointer Boats in 2014. And the contentious Endeavour models haven't dampened boaties' enthusiasm for the Gisborne company's designs.
“With all the publicity, we're getting more and more inquiries,” says Mr Briant.
“The Covid-19 thing hasn't been bad for us either. We braced ourselves for a massive crash, and cancelled orders, but customer confidence stayed resolute. Lost production however has meant more staff than ever to best salvage our promised deliveries.
“So there are strong intentions to look at a new factory. As each year goes by we continue to be stronger in the market.”
Along with developing new markets, the business is in the process of recruiting and training new staff — but growth means the business is hamstrung by the capacity to produce at its current site, says Mr Briant.
He envisions modernised premises in which factory, workshop and offices are housed under one roof. Bigger doors would enable ease of access, more floor space would mean less clutter and easier cleaning, and a larger yard would allow better access and more room for turning.
“The existing facility doesn't do the White Pointer Boats brand justice. We want staff to be in a better environment than they currently work in,” he says.
“The proposed new facility would allow better training of staff, and a better customer experience. It would be new and fresh. Potential customers would have an expectation before they arrive, before they invest in what they consider a masterpiece in boat building.”
Meanwhile, White Pointer Boats continues to build more complex boats according to customer demand. While there has been no need to change a proven hull design, developments in technology have brought about changes in engines and electronics, while interiors, seating and layout continues to vary, says Mr Briant.
“More technology is always coming up which means fit-out and installation is becoming more complex, and very exciting.”
He sees no change in the business's clientele demographic but White Pointer Boats' designs evolve to accommodate constant developments in taste and technology.
Under construction on spec is a sleek cabin-cruiser that White Pointer Boats is “not really known for”.
“It's still a serious fishing boat but a lot more comfortable, and has the capacity for overnight accommodation,” says Mr Briant.
“Everything's a gamble. It's just my passion.
“I hope other people like it.”
Also in development is an amphibious, electric-powered boat. Electrically-driven, retractable wheels means no trailer is needed. The vessel can be driven into the water, and the wheels retracted. An outboard motor powers the boat while it is at sea. Construction of one of the boats has been completed while another is on the way.
“It's a new design we've been part of developing,” says Mr Briant.
“It opens us up to new markets we wouldn't have previously been exposed to. It suits people who live in remote locations.
“The design makes access to the ocean easier. It's very 007.
“It's the single-most different boat we've built in 30 years . . . along with the Endeavours.”