AMORY – The next generation of a familiar name in boat manufacturing is living out a dream through a new aluminum boat venture. On Tuesday, the official announcement was made for Phillip Faulkner’s company, Avid Boats, which will create 75 new jobs through a two-year period. The manufacturer will produce 18- to 23-foot aluminum center console bay boats and 18- to 21-foot aluminum bass boats.
“I’ve been in the boat business my entire life. Being 28, people ask how long I’ve been in the business, and I tell them, ‘All of my life,’” he said. “The experience I gained from my father, my grandfather and brother growing up and learning from their best practices, dealer relations, boat quality and how to treat your employees...these four pillars are the foundation we want to build upon.”
There’s a corporate investment of $1.6 million, not counting company investments such as the building purchase and expenses not covered in the grant. The company is locating in the 80,000-square-foot facility formerly occupied by CPI Packaging, Inc. alongside Waterway Drive.
“I feel like this is a special project. The Faulkner family means a lot to Monroe County. They actively chose to invest in a new venture,” said Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Director Chelsea Baulch. “For them to choose to continue to invest and manufacture in Monroe means a lot to me personally and to the chamber, the city and the county as well. Often times, we just assume that our existing industries are going to expand and we take for granted when various sectors such as furniture and chemical add jobs as part of their investment. But we definitely did not take for granted a family that’s been here before in the boating industry actively looking to locate a new plant.”
Baulch said Avid Boats’ presence means Monroe County now has a marine sector in its industrial portfolio.
The project moved quickly, as Baulch’s first contact with Faulkner was in late December.
“From the minute he walked in my office in December, he had a goal of manufacturing a boat in August and obviously he has met the goal, which is outstanding,” she said. “We do not see projects happen this quickly but when we do, we have to act fast.”
The building was purchased six months ago. In its first 12 months of business, Faulkner said the plan is to have six new models of boats available.
“Avid Boats is excited to be a new employer in Monroe County and looks forward to adding new jobs to northeast Mississippi. Although we are a start-up, our team brings 100-plus years of combined marine industry experience to the table,” Faulkner said in a press release from the Mississippi Development Authority. “We look forward to being a vital contributor to the continued growth of this area. The boat business has been a part of my life since I can remember, and it has always been a dream of mine to start from the ground up and continue my family’s legacy as a successful boat manufacturing operation. We appreciate all the hard work the Mississippi Development Authority, city of Amory and Monroe County Chamber of Commerce has put into assisting Avid throughout this startup process.“
According to a press release from the MDA, Avid Boats plans to produce 750 units in 2020 and increase to 1,500 units per year by 2022.
“Manufacturing is a strong economic driver in North Mississippi. Avid Boats’ decision to locate in Amory and create 75 new manufacturing jobs further strengthens the state’s foothold in this important sector while helping create a stronger, more vibrant community for the residents of Monroe County,” said Gov. Phil Bryant in the press release.
According to the press release, the Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for building improvements and workforce training. The City of Amory and Monroe County will be providing tax-based incentives for investment and job creation. The company also is using the state’s Advantage Jobs Program, which provides a rebate to eligible businesses that create new jobs that meet or exceed the average annual wage of the state or the county in which the company locates.
“The team at Avid Boats knows our workforce is the best in the country. The decision to open a start-up company in Monroe County, where they have previously done business, is strong evidence that Mississippians are dedicated workers and take pride in a job well done,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. in the press release. “We appreciate the teamwork of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, the Monroe County Board of Supervisors and the City of Amory, which played an important role in bringing 75 exciting new career opportunities to northeast Mississippi.“
Avid Boats currently employs 18, and Faulkner anticipates to have 40 employees by the end of the year. Anyone interested in applying may do so at Amory’s WIN Job Center, located inside the Monroe County Government Complex at 1619 Highland Dr.
Faulkner said specific work skills needed include experience working with press brakes, CNC plasma cutters, metal fabrication and welding.