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In Michigan and around the world most pleasure-craft builders struggled to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s, while the Chris-Craft Corporation of Algonac thrived and made plans to expand. They chose Holland in 1939 because of its skilled wood working workforce and lack of labor unions, which ushered in Holland’s first boat building company that used industrial standards and procedures, like the assembly line. By February 1940, the first 15 1/2 foot runabout was completed and a small cruiser was added to the factory’s production schedule. The company also purchased a local steel boat manufacturer, Roamer- Boat Company, and built a huge new factory to produce Roamer brand steel cruisers for their customer base. Ironically, one of the craftsmen that had once worked at Chris-Craft founded the second boat building company to use industrial procedures and has be one of the largest and most respected pleasure craft companies to date: SlickCraft. S2 Yachts was founded by the former owner of SlickCraft to produce sailboats and later Tiara brand power yachts. That company remains as the largest, most successful boat company in Holland to date.

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Tiara Yachts Factory, 1990 Loan of Tiara Yachts

From Craft to Industry: The Boat Builders of Holland was an exhibition at the Holland Museum on display from June 14, 2013 through December 30, 2013. Materials for the exhibit were used from both the Joint Archives of Holland and Holland Museum.


From Craft to Industry: The Boat Builders of Holland was underwritten in part by proceeds from an endowed gift to the Holland Historical Trust from The Louis and Helen Padnos Foundation. This exhibition and related programming were made possible by the generous gifts of time, goods and services of Geoffrey Reynolds, Guest Curator; Grand Rapids Public Museum; David Scholten, Firehouse Boat Works; Land and Sea Upholstery; Holland Area Historical Society; The Joint Archives of Holland; Our Brewing Company.


Boat Builders of Holland, Chris Craft, Boating Industry in Michigan, West Michigan Boats, Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa, Faculty Exhibits, Hope College, Joint Archives of Holland