AMORY – Monroe County’s newest manufacturer, Avid Boats, was officially announced Aug. 20, solidifying 75 new jobs through the next two years and the latest generation in a family of boat-savvy entrepreneurs to launch a business venture.
The company was started by Phillip Faulkner, 28, who has been submerged in his family’s boat manufacturing background for his entire life.
“I’ve seen thousands of boats go out the door,” Faulkner said. “I think it’s safe to say some of the best boat manufacturers’ employees in the entire world are right here in northeast Mississippi in Monroe County.”
State and local officials helped welcome the aluminum bass and center console bay boat manufacturer.
“About maybe 15 years ago, or a little longer, we were here for another boat manufacturer, and the Faulkners were taking care of making some of the most beautiful boats in the nation right here in Monroe County,” Gov. Bryant said. “When we toured the other boat facility, we realized the entrepreneurs at work, the Faulkner family, could do something very remarkable in an area you would not expect for boat manufacturing. You’d guess maybe on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but no, it’s here.”
Faulkner acquired the 80,000 square-foot manufacturing space, formerly occupied by CPI Packaging, six months ago. When he presented his company plan to the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce last December, he said the first boat would be available in August.
“Entrepreneurship and start-up businesses are very close to my heart, and the Faulkner family and Avid Boats are no different. Without the collaborative efforts of the City of Amory, Monroe County Board of Supervisors, the chamber of commerce and many others, this project would not have happened,” said Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Baulch.
Faulkner thanked project partners, including the Mississippi Development Authority, Itawamba Community College, Gov. Phil Bryant and First Lady Deborah Bryant, Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the company’s roughly 17 employees for making the business a reality.
Faulkner said, before the announcement, in addition to the 80,000 square feet of space, there is adjoining land to grow.
“We think if it grows, we can add 50,000 square feet and still maintain adequate parking,” he said.
Faulkner said within the first 12 months of business, there are plans to produce six new models of aluminum boats.
He anticipates the company to employ to 40 people by the end of the year. Job-seekers interested in a career at Avid Boats may apply at Amory’s WIN Job Center, located inside the Monroe County Government Complex at 1619 Highland Dr. Specific work skills needed include experience working with press brakes, CNC plasma cutters, metal fabrication and welding.
During his remarks, the governor said economic development is a team sport, and job availability across the state has significantly increased.
“The Faulkner team are innovative entrepreneurs, and one thing I love about innovators is you can’t stop them. They are going to continue to manufacture and they are going to continue to innovate, and Mississippi is full of them,” Bryant said.
The first model boat, which was tested out the Friday before the official announcement, has a design that gives it a fiberglass look.
“It’s not your grandfather’s tin can,” Faulkner said before the announcement. “The aluminum boat business is a sleepy industry. I think there’s a lot of pride in the aluminum market and I think we understand today’s buyer. We can appeal to the entry-level, first-time boat buyer, all the way to a tried and true baby boomer who wants a good quality boat at a reasonable price point.”