Harken remains 'nimble,' having great year

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Sept. 5, 2015

PEWAUKEE - The news that Palmer Johnson Yachts will be closing in Sturgeon Bay saddened Harken CEO Bill Goggins, but he said it would have no effect on Pewaukee-based Harken Inc.

In fact, Goggins said Harken is having a “tremendous year.”

Palmer Johnson Yachts notified the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development this week that it is shutting down its operations in Sturgeon Bay because of diminished sales and increase foreign competition. About 100 people will be affected by the facility’s closing.

Harken manufactures and markets quality sailboat hardware and accessories for sailing yachts, while Palmer Johnson was the manufacturer of power yachts and superyachts.

Goggins said it’s been beneficial for Harken Inc. to be diversified with its business — 60 percent of which is exported. Also, the company keeps tabs on trends in the industry around the world.

What can hurt some of these large yacht builders, Goggins said, are things like exchange rates, cost of labor and lead times.

A significant portion of the demand for large and mega yachts is now going to Europe — countries like Holland and Italy, Goggins said, adding previously it was in New Zealand.

“We are nimble and we are leveraging that,” Goggins said, emphasizing that Harken is a leader in its category. “I think the super yacht business is stronger than ever.”

In addition, Harken is looking to grow into other market sectors that aren’t strictly marine-related, such as other markets in rope handling.

“We are committed to the Pewaukee area, Waukesha County area,” Goggins said. “We do all manufacturing inhouse. We are doing very well.”